ATLANTA (AP)—Jamal Crawford(notes) banked in a 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left to
cap a brilliant second half, leading the Atlanta Hawks to an 88-84 victory over
the Orlando Magic on Friday night and a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series. Series at a Glance vs.
Hawks lead series 2-1
The Hawks led most of the game, but things got close and testy in the final minutes. Zaza Pachulia(notes) of Atlanta and Jason Richardson(notes) of Orlando were both ejected with 2:22 remaining after a confrontation under the basket. The teams swapped the lead four times after that near-brawl until Al Horford(notes) put the Hawks ahead for good with 46.6 seconds remaining. But Crawford, who scored 18 of his 23 points after halftime, hit the biggest shot of all. With the shot clock winding down, he put up a jumper over Jameer Nelson(notes) that struck high on the backboard and went in. Game 4 is Sunday night.
The physical game turned ugly when Dwight Howard(notes) drove the lane and was hammered by Pachulia, who took on the thankless job of guarding Orlando’s big man after Jason Collins(notes) went out with a back injury in the first half.
Howard swung a forearm, Pachulia flung an elbow, then Richardson charged into Pachulia’s face. As they jawed, Pachulia appeared to deliver at least one headbutt to Richardson, who responded by slapping Pachulia in the jaw with his
left hand. After looking at replays to sort things out, the officials ejected both Pachulia and Richardson and gave Howard a technical, too. Pachulia, with two long scratches on his upper right arm, was given a standing ovation on his way to the locker room. With order restored, Nelson put the Magic ahead at 82-81 with a jumper after stealing an extra possession for the Magic, coming up from behind to strip the ball from Crawford. Joe Johnson(notes) responded for Atlanta, driving the lane, drawing a foul on Howard and hitting both free throws to put the Hawks up 83-82. The Magic pulled ahead for the final time when Brandon Bass(notes) swished an open jumper with 1:01 remaining after Hedo Turkoglu(notes) dribbled around to lure away the defense. Horford put the Hawks ahead to stay, Turkoglu missed a tough jumper from near the 3-point line with Horford in his face and Crawford made his improbable 3 to clinch it.