Josh Smith posted 26 points and Joe Johnson netted 18, including a crucial bucket down the stretch, to lead the Hawks to an 85-82 win over the Magic at Philips Arena.
Al Horford had 11 and Marvin Williams 10 off the bench for Atlanta, which won three of the four games played against Orlando this season.
This one was very rough, very physical and played very much into the Hawks' favor.
Atlanta went big, matching up Jason Collins with former Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy standout Dwight Howard. Collins frustrated Howard all night, forcing him into early foul trouble. But the Atlanta big saved his biggest defensive play for Atlanta's penultimate defensive stand.
Atlanta lead 84-82 with 13 seconds left as Orlando inbounded the ball out of a timeout. The ball landed in the hands of Jameer Nelson, who drove the lane alongside Howard. Collins fronted Nelson, altered the shot and beat Howard to the rebound.
Collins was immediately fouled by Nelson and split a pair of free throws to put Atlanta up by three with 5.7 seconds left before Hedo Turkoglu missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Atlanta the win.
Nelson had 20 points, while Turkoglu and Howard scored 17 each for the Magic, who are all-but locked into the No. 4 seed in the East.
With the win, it became more likely that Atlanta's first round foe will be their familiar Southeast Division foe from the Disneyland area. The Hawks (43-32) are four games ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers (40-36) for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta has just seven games left on the schedule.
Howard got into almost immediate foul trouble in this one, racking up a pair of fouls in the first 3:54 of the game. He did not play the rest of the way in the first quarter. Atlanta started attacking the post in the Orlando big man's absence, taking a 27-25 lead through one quarter before eking out a three point edge at the break.
Smith helped the Hawks to a 69-61 lead through three quarters, with an assist from Zaza Pachulia, who had a putback at the buzzer to give the Hawks that extra cushion.
Orlando roared back in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 82 on a layup by Nelson with 1:11 left, but Johnson answered with a running jumper in the lane to reestablish the Atlanta lead.
Jamal Crawford had seven points and Pachulia netted five and grabbed seven rebounds for Atlanta, which held a 42-37 edge on the glass.