The Atlanta Hawks needed a monster game from Josh Smith in order to finally get past the Orlando Magic in the arena near the Mouse. J-Smoove delivered. Smith had 19 points and 13 boards and Al Horford added 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Hawks to an 80-74 win over the Magic on Monday night in Orlando.
The win was the first in seven tries for the Hawks by Disneyland dating back to Oct. 29, 2008. It couldn't have come at a better time for Atlanta (14-8), which dropped a disappointing decision to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat (14-8) on Sunday.
"I ain't even going to lie to you," Smith told the AJC's Michael Cunningham. "After losing in the playoffs by like an average of 30 points and playing good enough to win last time but coming up short, we was just determined to get a win here."
The Hawks badly needed a win against Dwight Howard and the Magic (15-6), who have dominated them anywhere around Mickey Mouse's little kingdom. Whether it was the Amway Center or the Amway Arena, Atlanta has had scant success in the town based on make believe. Things were particularly nightmarish for Atlanta there in the second round of the playoffs, when the Magic beat the Hawks by a combined score of 226-169 in the two games played at the old arena down the street.
The Hawks dropped a 93-89 decision to the Magic earlier in the season before finally breaking the Magic's spell on Monday.
"Mentally, this is a big boost for our guys," Drew told the AJC. "We've come away empty-handed here for a very, very long time. ... I don't know if it breaks the spell. I just know tonight (that) our guys did a great job of finishing."
That they did.
Atlanta opened up a 71-62 lead on a 3-pointer by Mike Bibby with 2:45 left before the pesky Magic chipped away at the Hawks lead, cutting it to as little as three on Vince Carter's three-point play with 40 seconds left. But Bibby once again hit a big shot, connecting on another trey to seal the deal for Atlanta.
The Hawks could finally leave the "happiest place on Earth" with smiles on their faces.
Jamal Crawford chipped in 15 and Bibby had 13 for Atlanta, which has won six of its last seven games.