Published January 08, 2015
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - The Orlando Magic bounced the Atlanta Hawks from first place in the Southeast Division on Saturday with a bruising 104-86 victory.
The Magic (31-16), who trailed the Hawks by a half-game before the clash, took over the top spot with their third successive win over Atlanta this season.
All-Star center Dwight Howard powered his way to 31 points and 19 rebounds for the Magic, who broke open the game with a 17-2 run in the third quarter.
"I think we've showed glimpses (of good play) all year," Howard told reporters. "We just have to put together a full game. I think we're on our way."
The win was Orlando's sixth consecutive against the Hawks.
"This game is all about matchups, and I think we match up well with everyone but them," the Hawks' Joe Johnson said. "They pretty much have their way with us."
That was especially true at center, where the Hawks' Al Horford recorded only four points and four rebounds and was dominated by Howard.
"We've got to figure it out," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "We'll go back and look at the tapes and see how we can do a better job against him (Howard) at our place (on March 24)."
Johnson and Jamal Crawford each had 19 points for an off-target Atlanta offense.
The victory means Magic coach Stan Van Gundy will take charge of the East in the February 14 NBA All-Star Game if Orlando beat the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.
"We're going to do our job on the court to see him be an All-Star coach," Howard said. "That'd be hilarious."
Cleveland's Mike Brown, whose team has the NBA's best record, is ineligible to coach the East because he coached the team last year.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Patrick Johnston)