Hawks 97, Magic 88

The Atlanta Hawks have had so many injuries and illnesses that
they may not know who will be on the floor until tipoff.

They can count on one thing when they’re playing the Magic – a
win.

Ivan Johnson came off the bench to score a season-high 21 points
and added 10 rebounds as Atlanta beat Orlando for the 10th straight
time, 97-88 in Philips Arena, in a game between short-handed
teams.

Even with their 27th different starting lineup, the Hawks
(41-33) found a familiar result while sweeping their four-game
season series with Orlando to move into fifth in the Eastern
Conference, a half-game ahead of Chicago.

Devin Harris, who missed the three previous games with a sore
foot, scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter as Atlanta
gradually created breathing room.

The burly, soft-spoken Johnson scored10 points in each half
beginning with a thunderous dunk late in the first quarter.

”It was fun tonight. I got a lot of work in,” he said after
playing a season-high 34:28. ”It gets me going real good (to get
an early dunk). It helped me stretch my legs out. I’m getting
old.”

Atlanta coach Larry Drew gave Johan Petro a rare start at center
as Al Horford missed his second straight game with a stomach
illness, and the Hawks earlier announced that reserve center Zaza
Pachulia will have season-ending surgery on his right Achilles’
tendon.

Drew started Johnson in the second half.

He chuckled after his comment about getting old (he’ll be 29 on
April 10), and then added, ”Somebody had to step it up with Al out
tonight.”

Actually, several Hawks fit that description.

Harris caught fire in the fourth quarter, and backup guard
Shelvin Mack – recently signed for the rest of the season after
bouncing around the D-League – added eight points, a couple assists
and solid defense off the bench.

Mack played 20:56 in large measure because the Hawks were
missing rookie John Jenkins (concussion) one night after he scored
a career-high 19 points in a loss at Boston.

”Ivan was the man tonight,” Drew said. ”And Shelvin Mack is
kind of like a mini-Ivan with his energy.”

There were nine lead changes in the first half, but after Josh
Smith grabbed an offensive rebound and scored at the buzzer to give
Atlanta a 45-44 halftime lead, the Hawks never trailed again. Smith
had 21 points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots and a couple
steals.

Orlando’s Beno Udrih hit a jumper with 3:49 left in the third
quarter to knot the game at 55. Atlanta’s Anthony Tolliver
countered with a jumper, and Atlanta led the rest of the way.

Udrih, who was filling in for Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson
(sprained ankle), led the Magic with 20 points and eight
assists.

Orlando also was missing leading scorer Arron Afflalo (strained
right hamstring), but center Nikola Vucevic had 17 points and 15
rebounds in his first game after missing five because of illness
and concussion.

The Magic were competitive while Maurice Harkless scored 17, and
D-League veteran Tobias Harris added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Harris, though, was harassed chiefly by Smith into a 5-for-18
shooting night. Orlando also struggled at the free throw line on a
16-for-27 (59.3 percent) while losing for the 11th time in 13
games.

”(Smith) has great length and athleticism,” said Orlando coach
Jacque Vaughn. ”The Hawks have big, strong, physical guys that
make it tough to score on them. If it’s not Horford or Pachulia,
then it’s Ivan Johnson.

”We’re putting together quarters, we’re putting together
halves. That will eventually add up to putting together games and
consecutive games.”

Atlanta grew its lead to 14 points on a three-point play by
Johnson with 7:14 left in the game.

NOTES: Atlanta’s Kyle Korver made a 3-pointer in the second
quarter, the 67th straight game in which he’s hit at least one
trey. The former Creighton star is one game from tying Reggie
Miller (68) for the fourth-longest such streak in NBA history. Only
Dana Barros (89), Michael Adams (79) and Dennis Scott (78) put
together longer runs than Miller. … The Hawks were also missing
guard-forward DeShawn Stevenson (knees). He was unavailable because
he doesn’t play in back-to-back nights. … Atlanta is already
without guard Louis Williams, who suffered a season-ending knee
injury a couple months ago, and the Magic have been without
second-leading scorer Glen Davis (fractured foot) for two
months.