ATLANTA - Josh Smith swooped in to slam through Joe Johnson's missed shot just ahead of the buzzer and the Atlanta Hawks finally beat the Orlando Magic, clinching a third straight trip to the playoffs with an 86-84 victory Wednesday night.
The Hawks bounced back from an early 15-2 deficit and overcame going 8:45 in the fourth quarter without a field goal against a division rival that had routed them three times this season. For Atlanta, it came down to the final shot of regulation for the fifth straight game.
After Vince Carter hit a long 3-pointer with 9.9 seconds remaining to tie it at 84, the Hawks rushed down the court to set up Johnson for the potential winner. He drove the baseline and put up a one-hander, which bounced off the far side of the rim.
But the Magic failed to block out Smith, who soared through the air for a slam just before the red light went on. Officials checked the replay just to be sure – it showed Smith dunking it with 0.01 seconds remaining.
The teams combined for only nine baskets in the final quarter. Orlando, after hitting six of its first 10 shots, finished 27 of 72 for a dismal 38 percent.
Carter led Orlando with 20 points, while Dwight Howard chipped in 19 points and a season-high 24 rebounds. Johnson had 17 points to lead Atlanta.