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Friday, March 26, 2010
Hawks swoop into playoffs on dunk
ATLANTA (AP) Josh Smith would have preferred that Joe Johnson make the shot.
It worked out fine for the Atlanta Hawks.
Smith swooped in to dunk Johnson's miss just ahead of the buzzer as the Hawks pulled out another close one, finally beating the Orlando Magic 86-84 Wednesday night to clinch a third straight trip to the playoffs.
The Hawks bounced back from an early 15-2 deficit and overcame going 8:45 in the fourth quarter without a field goal against a division rival that had routed them three times this season. For Atlanta, it came down to the final shot of regulation for the fifth game in a row.
"I knew it was close," Smith said. "I just crashed it. I looked and the ball was there. Joe's a good shooter, and I knew it wouldn't be much off."
After Vince Carter hit a long 3-pointer with 9.9 seconds left to tie it 84-84, the Hawks — out of timeouts — rushed down the court to set up Johnson for the potential winning shot. He drove the baseline and put up a one-hander, which bounced off the far side of the rim.
But the Magic failed to block out Smith, who soared through the air for the slam just before the red light went on. The officials checked the replay to be sure — it clearly showed him dunking with 00.1 seconds remaining.
"I knew (Johnson) was going to shoot the basketball," Smith said. "He's made some big shots for us. I was hoping he would make this one. But I had his back."
Smith blew past Rashard Lewis and dunked over Dwight Howard, who had a season-high 24 rebounds but wasn't there at the end because he came out to help defensively against Johnson.
"On the weak side, we just stood and watched," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "The guys on the court are doing the same thing the guys on the bench are doing: just standing there watching."
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Celtics 113, Nuggets 99
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