Hawks swoop to take opener from Magic

ORLANDO (Reuters) - The Atlanta Hawks exploded offensively in the middle two quarters to beat the Orlando Magic 103-93 in their NBA playoff series opener on Saturday.

The Hawks scored 38 points in the second quarter and built a 55-48 half-time lead with four players in double digits, despite the Magic getting 31 first-half points from Dwight Howard.

The Hawks continued to stifle the majority of the Magic roster in the third quarter, limiting Orlando to 23 points, 20 of them from Jameer Nelson, while extending their advantage to 85-71.

"Those middle two quarters, we had no answer for them at all in terms of stopping them," said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.

"We couldn't really play anything that they did. We had trouble with their post-ups, one-on-one, we had trouble with their perimeter guys breaking us down on the dribble, we struggled with their pick and rolls."

Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 25 points and Jamal Crawford scored 23 points off the bench.

Al Horford scored 16 points, Josh Smith had 15 and Kirk Hinrich scored 13 points as part of the balanced Hawks offense.

"To be honest with you, their guards killed us," said Magic guard J.J. Redick.

"The perimeter guys, Crawford, Hinrich, and Joe Johnson, we have to do a better job of guarding those guys individually."

Howard finished with 46 points and 19 rebounds and Nelson scored 27 points for the Magic.

"It's frustrating that we lost but it's the first game," said Howard. "We'll come back in the second game with a better effort."

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario. Editing by Alastair Himmer)