Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Atlanta Hawks were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 88-85 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The Hawks are one win away from ending the Magic’s season, and exacting revenge from last year’s sweep in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. Four free-throws from Joe Johnson helped seal the deal for Atlanta, as they helped to stave off Orlando from coming back and stealing Game 4 on the road. With 10.5 seconds left in regulation and the Magic trailing by three points, the basketball was put in Hedo Turkoglu‘s hands but he was unable to deliver with a game-tying shot to extend the game into overtime. It was a scenario in which Orlando sorely missed Jason Richardson, given that he’s been able to come through in crunch-time situations time and again. The Hawks were led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Jamal Crawford finished with 25 points and six assists, continuing his onslaught in the series as Atlanta’s sixth man. Johnson had 20 points and nine rebounds. Al Horford chipped in with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists, while Kirk Hinrich contributed with 14 points. Dwight Howard had another dominant game, finishing with 29 points, 17 rebounds, and two blocks but a lack of support from his teammates has been the Magic’s downfall. Gilbert Arenas redeemed himself after poor performances in Games 1 and 2, as well as a no-show in Game 3, by putting up 20 points and five rebounds, giving Orlando a much-needed boost on offense even though it was in vain.