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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.

News photo
Flashback: Cleveland's LeBron James does his best George McGinnis impersonation with a one-handed jumper over David West of the Hornets on Wednesday night. AP PHOTO

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."

Nets 93, Kings 79

In East Rutherford, N.J., Brook Lopez had 26 points and 13 rebounds as the Nets beat Sacramento to snap an eight-game losing streak.

Celtics 113, Nuggets 99

In Boston, Paul Pierce scored 27 points and Kevin Garnett had 20 as the Celtics clinched a playoff berth with a victory over Denver.

76ers 101, Bucks 86

In Milwaukee, rookie Jrue Holiday had 15 points and seven assists as Philadelphia snapped the Bucks' longest home winning streak in six years at eight games.

Cavaliers 105, Hornets 92

In New Orleans, LeBron James scored an efficient 38 points on 15-of-22 shooting to go with nine assists as Cleveland won its eighth straight game.

Thunder 122, Rockets 104

In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 25 points and James Harden added 23 points off the bench.

Bobcats 108, T-Wolves 95

In Charlotte, Stephen Jackson shook off a sore hand and busted out of his shooting slump with 37 points, leading the Bobcats past Minnesota to send the reeling Timberwolves to their 14th straight loss.

Jazz 113, Raptors 87

In Toronto, Deron Williams had 18 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds to lead Utah over the Raptors.

Pacers 99, Wizards 82

In Indianapolis, Danny Granger scored 31 points to help Pacers beat Washington.

Warriors 128, Grizzlies 110

In Oakland, Calif., Stephen Curry had 30 points and 11 assists, and Reggie Williams scored 23 points as Golden State damaged Memphis' playoff hopes.

Lakers 92, Spurs 83

In San Antonio, Kobe Bryant scored 24 points as the Lakers extended their winning streak to seven games.

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