A new season. A much different result. The Atlanta Hawks are moving on in the playoffs, knocking out the team that beat them so badly a year ago.
Joe Johnson scored 23 points and came up with a huge offensive rebound, leading Atlanta past Orlando, 84-81, in Game 6 Thursday night in Atlanta to finish off the Magic in the opening round.
The Hawks, who won the series 4-2, advanced to the second round for the third straight year, this time against the top-seeded Bulls. Game 1 is Monday in Chicago.
In 2010, the Magic routed the Hawks in four straight games in the most lopsided sweep in playoff history.
“What better redemption than to play them again?” said Jamal Crawford, who hit two big free throws after Johnson swatted him the ball. “We were up to the challenge.”
Orlando heads into an uncertain offseason after its earliest playoff ouster since 2007. Who knows what the future holds for the Magic’s best player, Dwight Howard, who can become a free agent after next season but may be angling to get out earlier?
With Atlanta clinging to a one-point lead and the clock running down, Marvin Williams missed a clinching 3-pointer. But Johnson swatted the ball to Crawford, who was fouled and made both free throws with 8.2 seconds left.
“I just wanted to make a play,” said Johnson.
The Magic had two chances to force overtime. J.J. Redick missed an open 3, then Jason Richardson had a desperation shot from the corner blocked by Josh Smith.
Redick came off a screen for a clear view of the basket, a play that couldn’t have been drawn up any better. The shot rimmed out, though it went out of bounds off an Atlanta player to provide the Magic with one more shot.
That would be their last chance to extend the series. Orlando inbounded from the baseline to Richardson, but he didn’t have much room to work in the corner. Smith extended a hand to finish off the Magic.
Howard led Orlando with 25 points and 15 rebounds. But he didn’t get much help.
Lakers 98, at Hornets 80: Kobe Bryant scored 22 of his 24 points in the first three quarters, then let his teammates take over in a dominant Los Angeles victory over New Orleans that wrapped up the series in six games.
Andrew Bynum added 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Pau Gasol chipped in 16 points for the two-time defending champions, who led by as many as 21 in the fourth quarter.
Chris Paul, who helped the Hornets split the first four games with two sensational performances, had seven points before hitting a 3-pointer with 4:02 to go and finished with 10 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.
Lamar Odom had 14 points for the Lakers, who outrebounded New Orleans, 43-30, including 14 offensive rebounds. Bynum had eight offensive rebounds and the Lakers finish with a 21-4 edge in second-chance points.
The Lakers face the winner of the Dallas-Portland series, with Game 1 Monday in L.A. Carl Landry had 19 points for the Hornets, who haven’t won playoff series since the first round in 2008.
San Antonio at Memphis, 6 p.m., ESPN (Grizzlies lead series, 3-2)