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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hawks draw blood, but can't beat Howard, Magic

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Maybe all the Orlando Magic needed after a slow start was a slap in the face.

News photo
Sweet stroke: Orlando's Rashard Lewis goes up for a jumper over Atlanta's Mike Bibby in Game 2 on Thursday night. AP PHOTO

Dwight Howard came back from a bloody nose to finish with 29 points and 17 rebounds, and the Magic beat the Atlanta Hawks 112-98 on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Not even a hard hit could slow the Magic's Superman.

"I'm human. It's not like I'm built of metal," Howard said. "They did to me like they did the Wolverine. I bleed. I break bones."

Not this time.

Vince Carter had 24 points with some big shots late and Rashard Lewis finished with 20 points, leading Orlando's 19-2 run in the fourth quarter. The perennially poor free-throw shooting Howard also was 13-for-18 from the line.

"Every time I step up there," Howard said, "just believing it was going in."

The Hawks avoided embarrassment but not another road playoff loss.

After a 43-point defeat in the opener, Atlanta led early but heads home still searching for a way to stop the Magic's 12-game winning streak. Al Horford paced the Hawks with 24 points, and Joe Johnson had 19 points.

Game 3 is Saturday in Atlanta.

"Go home and win. We've been pretty good on our floor," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "They took care of their business on their home floor. We're going to see what we're made of."

Atlanta finally drew first blood, it just wasn't a hard enough hit.

Howard made a layup as he was slapped in the face inadvertently by Horford to start the third quarter, the blood pouring from the Magic center's nose. Howard shot the free throw — and missed — with plugs in his nostrils, holding back laughter, and then left for about 2 minutes so trainers could stop the bleeding.

"I think he held his composure well," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He took some hard hits on the offensive end of the floor, that's led to some frustration and at times retaliation on his part. He got hit damn hard tonight, blows that would have dropped a lot of people, certainly me."

The Hawks could only stop things temporarily.

The play started an 11-2 run that erased Atlanta's early nine-point lead and put the Magic ahead 62-59. The topsy-turvy starts by the two centers — Howard had 18 points in the first, and Horford scored 14 points in the second — were merely offsetting.

"He was shooting over our defense and making shots," Horford said. "I can live with that. He had to earn everything he got."

Jameer Nelson finished with 20 points and also made a 3-pointer as time expired in the third quarter, a demoralizing blow after Jamal Crawford's 3-pointer on the other end. It put the Magic ahead by one.

"That was a huge momentum boost for us," Van Gundy said.

All-NBA selections

NEW YORK (AP) LeBron James and Dwight Howard were unanimous choices for the All-NBA Team, while Kobe Bryant received 119 of 122 votes from writers and broadcasters.

James was a unanimous pick for the second straight season and made his fourth All-NBA Team. The Cleveland star won the MVP award for the second year in a row.

Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade completed the first team Thursday. Durant led the NBA in scoring for Oklahoma City with a 30.1 average, and James was second at 29.7. Howard led the league in rebounding with a 13.2 average and also averaged 18.3 points.

Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash and Deron Williams were selected to the second team. Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bogut, Joe Johnson and Brandon Roy were third-team picks.

Ainge hit with fine

NEW YORK (AP) Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Thursday for tossing a towel to try and distract Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson as he shot a free throw during Monday's game.

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