Magic hold off Hawks

Following Orlando’s humbling Game 1 loss to Atlanta, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said that if his team cut down its turnovers and played better defence, he felt like everything would be fine in Game 2.

Dallas Mavericks’ DeShawn Stevenson (92) attempts a reverse layup as Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge

Dallas Mavericks’ DeShawn Stevenson (92) attempts a reverse layup as Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge

Orlando 88 Atlanta 82

ORLANDO, Fla. — Following Orlando’s humbling Game 1 loss to Atlanta, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said that if his team cut down its turnovers and played better defence, he felt like everything would be fine in Game 2.

His team only fulfilled half of that equation Tuesday night, but it was still enough to earn a victory.

Dwight Howard had 33 points and 19 rebounds, Jameer Nelson added 13 points and eight rebounds to help the Magic hold off the Hawks 88-82.

The Magic evened the best-of-seven series, with Game 3 Friday night in Atlanta.

Orlando used a 10-1 run to close the third quarter to take an 11-point lead into the fourth and fought off a late Atlanta charge down the stretch.

The Magic struggled from the field shooting just 34 per cent and had 16 turnovers. But they defended well.

After allowing the Hawks to become the first opponent in 16 straight playoff games to score 100 points against it in Game 1, Orlando’s defence tightened around Atlanta’s shooters in Game 2. The Hawks shot 39 per cent.

“It’s not anything I did — our guys did it,” Van Gundy said when asked about the adjustments he made after Game 1. “You gotta get out and take the challenge. … Every game sort of takes on a life of its own and you just gotta do whatever it takes to get the win on that night.”

The Magic overcame a 10-point first-half deficit en route to the win. It was Orlando’s largest comeback victory in the post-season since May 2009, when it overcame a 16-point deficit to beat Cleveland.

Jamal Crawford led Atlanta with 25 points and Josh Smith added 17, but they missed 15 shots between them and expended a lot more energy to get off attempts.

The Magic led 65-54 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Joe Johnson’s basket cut the lead to 78-72, and he got another following an Orlando turnover to trim it to four points with 2:43 to play.

A steal by the Hawks ended with a dunk by Al Horford to pull Atlanta within a basket. But Hedo Turkoglu got a friendly roll on a layup to push it back to four and Jason Richardson drilled three-pointer that made it 83-76 with 1:08 remaining.

Crawford dropped in a layup that made it 84-80, but Orlando was able to hit enough free throws the rest of the way to secure the victory.

Howard played all 48 minutes in Game 2 and took 19 free throws. He played 45 minutes in Game 1.

“It’s tough,” he said.

“But you can’t think about that while you’re on the court. You can’t think about any pains. You just have to fight through it. … As much as I get hit and beat on during the game, I just think about what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Atlanta had 15 turnovers Tuesday, as Howard floated as a one-man zone in the paint. It seemed to disrupt the Hawks’ offensive flow and helped Howard’s teammates close out on Atlanta’s jump shooters.

“That’s what great defensive players do,” Horford said. “They get out there and it seems like they are everywhere. He does a good job of that.”

Boston 96 New York 93

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics pulled out their first two playoff games with big finishes. They want to play much better from the start next time.

“We were lucky to win,” coach Doc Rivers said after a 96-93 victory on Tuesday night over the depleted New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony’s 42 points.

Kevin Garnett sank the go-ahead basket with 14 seconds left then stole the ball with four seconds remaining as the Knicks — without Amare Stoudemire for the second half and Chauncey Billups for the whole game — still gave the Celtics all they could handle.

“I probably (have) never been more proud of a team and how they battled the circumstances,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said, “how hard they played and how tough they played.”

Billups had a strained left knee and his status for Game 3 on Friday night is uncertain. Stoudemire had back spasms but expects to be back when the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series resumes.

Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with a career playoff-high 30 points, 14 of them in the first quarter when he kept driving to the basket.

“I tried to attack Game 1,” he said, “It’s just (that) my lanes were getting blocked.”

Anthony matched his career playoff high for points and set a new high with 17 rebounds as the Knicks held a 53-37 advantage on the boards.

Toney Douglas had 14 points in place of Billups.