So much for Dwight Howard setting any playoff records. He, like the rest of his Orlando Magic team, had some trouble scoring in the third quarter. But not for Jameer Nelson, this one would be even more of a blowout.
Howard has 34 points and Nelson posted 20 of his 21 points in the third quarter, but the Atlanta Hawks used a 11-0 run midway through the quarter to post an 85-71 lead over the Magic through three frames at the Amway Center.
Joe Johnson lead five Hawks players into double figures with 23 points for Atlanta, which is shooting 58-percent (32-for-55) from the field.
The Hawks pretty much had their way with the Magic early in the third quarter as everyone but Nelson struggled to connect from the field. They scored 11 unanswered points to build a 68-53 lead on two Josh Smith free throws with 6:48 left before Howard stopped the run with a free throw.
Atlanta lead by as many as 17 in the frame before Nelson got hot and cut into the lead a bit down the stretch.
The Hawks are getting it done with a balanced attack. Al Horford has 16 points and five rebounds. Jamal Crawford has 14. Kirk Hinrich 13 and Josh Smith 11 points and six rebounds.
They are also playing relentless defense and pestering the heck out of Howard, who picked up three fouls and a technical in the third quarter alone. He goes into the fourth with four personal fouls for the Magic, who dominated the Hawks last season in the playoffs by a margin of 25.3 points per game.
It looks like a totally different Hawks team tonight. One that came ready to play and ready to make a series out of this one.