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Monday, May 10, 2010

Magic rout Hawks, take 3-0 series lead

ATLANTA (AP) The Orlando Magic kept up their dominating romp through the NBA playoffs, and the Atlanta Hawks can't do anything to stop it.

News photo
Unstoppable: Orlando's Dwight Howard is fouled by the Hawks' Josh Smith during their playoff game in Atlanta on Saturday. The Magic won 105-75 to take a 3-0 lead in the series. AP PHOTO

The Magic made it seven straight postseason wins with a 105-75 blowout Saturday, showing off all their weapons beyond Superman while handing the Hawks the worst home playoff loss in franchise history.

Dwight Howard put up his usual stout numbers — 21 points and 16 rebounds — but he didn't stand out playing in his hometown. No one on the Magic really did, which is the real beauty of a team playing better than anyone at the most crucial time of year.

Rashard Lewis scored 22 points and knocked down four 3-pointers. Jameer Nelson chipped in with 14 points and four assists. Mickael Pietrus added 13 points, hitting three shots beyond the arc. Marcin Gortat grabbed six rebounds in less than 10 minutes relieving Howard. Matt Barnes had 11 points.

"We understand that for us to win we have to play together," Howard said. "We have a lot of shooters, and we try to feed off that."

All 10 Orlando players who got on the court made it to the score sheet. The Magic worked even harder at the defensive end. Atlanta made a measly 35 percent from the field, getting only eight points from star Joe Johnson on 3-of-15 shooting.

The Hawks have been battered in three straight games, losing by an average of 29 points to a team that finished just ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings. Their previous worst playoff defeat at home was a 107-83 rout by Philadelphia in 1980.

"A tough, ugly loss," Johnson said. "Embarrassing."

Orlando, which has won 13 straight dating to the regular season, will try to wrap up its second straight sweep in Game 4 on Monday.

Johnson, who will be part of what could be the greatest free-agent class in NBA history, may be costing himself millions with his performance in the playoffs. He's shooting just 29 percent against the Magic, averaging 12.3 points a game. Over the last six postseason games, he's averaging 13.3 points on 31 percent shooting.

"Guys look to me for guidance," Johnson said. "When I'm playing like that, it's almost impossible for us to win."

No NBA team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit, and the challenge looks more daunting considering how well the Magic are playing.

Atlanta never led in this one and was trailing 24-16 when Howard picked up his second foul with 1:45 left in the opening quarter. Even with its big man on the bench, Orlando just kept adding to it lead.

Lakers 111, Jazz 110

In Salt Lake City, after winning the first two games by dominating inside, Los Angeles went outside in Game 3 and took a 3-0 series lead on Utah in the Western Conference playoffs.

Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher hit back-to-back 3-pointers during an 8-2 run in the final minute and the Lakers held on Saturday, putting Los Angeles on the verge of a sweep.

The Lakers outlasted the Jazz in a frenzied fourth quarter, which included 12 lead changes before Utah's final attempt bounced off the rim in the final second.

"It was fun basketball to watch, I'm sure," said Bryant, who scored 35 to lead Los Angeles. "Guys just coming down making big shot after big shot, and big play after big play. It was certainly fun to be a part of."

From the Lakers' perspective, it was a blast. They never led by more than four, but stayed close enough to win it in the final minute and steal Utah's first home game of the series.

The Jazz had two chances to win it in the final 4 seconds, but Deron Williams missed from the top of the key and Wesley Matthews' tip just before the buzzer also missed.

"It's a tough loss, period. We were again in the game and had a chance to win the game and things aren't going our way," Williams said.

Williams had 28 points and nine assists and Kyle Korver added a career playoff-high 23 points for the Jazz, making all five of his 3-point attempts.

Fisher finished with 20 points and Pau Gasol added 14 points and 17 rebounds for Los Angeles, which can close out the four-game sweep with a win Monday night in Game 4.

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