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Johnson helps Hawks beat Heat, take 3-2 lead in series

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The Sports Network
4/30/2009 1:05:56 AM
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Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Joe Johnson finished with 25 points, six rebounds and six assists to help the Atlanta Hawks crush the Miami Heat, 106-91, and take control in the teams' Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

With the Game 5 win, the Hawks took a 3-2 lead in the matchup, which continues Friday in Miami. Atlanta is now a Game 6 victory away from winning its first playoff series since 1999.

"Tied up 2-2, it was a must-win for both teams," Atlanta's Josh Smith said. "We were just able to do the right things in order to be able to win."

Flip Murray came off the bench to score 23 points for fourth-seeded Atlanta, which also got 20 points and eight boards from Smith. However, the Hawks lost center Al Horford to a first-half ankle sprain. Horford, who ended with four rebounds and three points, landed on his right leg and dropped to the floor before going to the locker room. He did not return, and his status for Game 6 is uncertain.

"I'm a little banged up right now," Horford said. "But I really got a lot of treatment in the second half. We're going to continue to do treatment tomorrow, and hopefully we'll see about Friday."

Dwyane Wade, who battled back spasms in Game 4 and temporarily left Wednesday's contest in the first quarter after hitting his head on the court, had 29 points to pace fifth-seeded Miami. Michael Beasley added 18 points and Jermaine O'Neal had 14 for the Heat, who had only six offensive rebounds.

"They kicked our butts in pretty much every way possible," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It turned into a highlight show after a while. They were trying to embarrass us, but they did what they had to do."

With the 15-point differential in Wednesday's contest, all five games in this series so far have been decided by double digits. Game 4, an 81-71 Hawks win, has been the closest margin.

Atlanta held a 24-20 edge after the back-and-forth first quarter, during which Wade went down.

Late in the stanza, Wade started to run up-court but collided with Smith and tumbled to the floor. He fell parallel to the ground and, upon landing on his back, his head continued to drop and smacked the court. With the clock stopped at 3:47, Wade stayed on the floor as trainers attended to him.

After going to the locker room, Wade returned a little over a minute into the second quarter, and almost immediately was at the center of another incident.

Wade, teammate Jamaal Magloire, and Atlanta's Smith and Solomon Jones were all issued technical fouls with 9:55 left in the quarter after a brief shoving match under the hoop.

Wade was actually issued a flagrant foul 44 seconds later, when he tried to block a Maurice Evans shot from behind. Wade and Evans tumbled to the floor, and Wade came within inches of hitting his head on the ground again. Evans made one of the two free throws, and Smith followed with a layup for a 31-23 Hawks lead.

"It's playoff basketball," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said of the physicality. "I don't want our guys to shy away from it, and I don't want them complaining. They let us play and bang. It looks ugly at times. That's playoff basketball."

Beasley countered with two free throws, but Atlanta began to pull away from that point with a nine-point burst. Johnson scored five points in the stretch, and Evans' dunk capped it for a 40-25 advantage.

The Hawks continued to lead by double digits and later ran off seven more points in a row. Murray's jumper provided the last of those points to extend Atlanta's lead to 57-35 with just under two minutes to play, and the Hawks were ahead 63-40 at halftime.

The Hawks' 23-point halftime margin was their largest of the game, but they still led by double digits throughout the second half.

Wade scored five consecutive points late in the third quarter to bring Miami within 13, but Murray ended the stanza with two free throws to put Atlanta up 85-70 going to the fourth.

The Heat couldn't put a dent in their deficit, and approaching the midway point of the quarter Smith drained a three-pointer and added two foul shots. They gave Atlanta a 98-77 advantage with just under seven minutes to play, and the Hawks cruised to the finish from there.

Game Notes:

Atlanta held a 37-29 rebounding edge, and totaled 12 offensive rebounds...The Hawks made 48.6 percent of their shots, while the Heat shot 47.7 percent...Evans finished with 10 points for the Hawks, while Mike Bibby added 17...Udonis Haslem ended with 11 points and a team-high eight boards for Miami.

Josh Smith (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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