Johnson, Pachulia Lift Hawks Past Magic
Atlanta 108, Orlando 107 (OT)
ATLANTA, March 19 (Ticker) -- After another dazzling performance, Joe Johnson failed to come through in the clutch for the Atlanta Hawks. Fortunately, Zaza Pachulia picked up the slack.
Johnson had 40 points and 11 assists while Pachulia grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds and made the game-winning basket - following Johnson's miss with a tip-in - with 2.4 seconds left in overtime as the Hawks edged the Orlando Magic, 108-107.
"We needed a win," said Johnson, who scored seven of Atlanta's 12 points in overtime. "We kept our composure and got key defensive stops and made key offensive plays."
"Joe Johnson played an excellent game," Magic center Tony Battie said. "He scored when they needed him to score. He distributed the ball extremely well and got other guys easy baskets."
Orlando took a 105-100 lead with 1:24 remaining when Jameer Nelson sank a 3-pointer. But Josh Smith knocked down a shot from beyond the arc 18 seconds later to draw the Hawks within 105-103.
"I probably wouldn't have taken that shot a couple of months ago," said Smith, who missed a similar shot seconds earlier. "I'm not going to lie to you. Coach (Mike Woodson) put confidence in me, and coach Fizdale (assistant David Fizdale) has been telling me that if I make a mistake to just move on and try to make another great play."
"He's starting to figure it out," Woodson said. "It's nice to see. His shot looks like a shot right now, and he's making it. He's handling the ball, making plays and he's trying to defend. It's all a part of growing up and being a better player in this league."
After Atlanta native Dwight Howard made a pair of free throws to push Orlando's lead back to four, Johnson drilled a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left, cutting the deficit to 107-106.
The Magic squandered an opportunity to build their cushion when Hedo Turkoglu was whistled for a charge with 12 seconds left, and the Hawks capitalized on the ensuing possession.
Johnson missed a short runner, but the rebound fell to Pachulia, who converted the follow shot with 2.4 seconds remaining to give Atlanta a 108-107 lead. Nelson missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"First, I thought Johnson hit the shot," said Pachulia, who was drafted by Orlando in the second round in 2003. "I saw three guys go on (Johnson), and one was my guy. I was wide open under the basket, and all I had to do was to tip it in."
"We had to help on Johnson's drive and we had everybody in the paint," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "It was a little bit of a mismatch. We had smaller guys in there going against (Pachulia), and we couldn't keep him off the glass."
Pachulia grabbed a career-high 12 offensive boards, but perhaps his biggest play was drawing the charge on Turkoglu in the waning seconds.
"Zaza made two big plays," Woodson said. "The charge on the defensive end and the tap to win the game. ... He was huge. (Thankfully), we've got Zaza."
"(Pachulia) was the story of the game," Hill said. "The guy had 18 rebounds, 12 on the offensive boards. Our biggest concern coming into this game was offensive rebounding."
Al Harrington scored 24 points, Smith finished with 15 and 10 rebounds and Pachulia chipped in 13 points for the Hawks, who have won both meetings with the Magic this season.
Nelson scored 18 points to pace eight players in double figures for Orlando.