Orlando Magic sweeps Atlanta Hawks, reaches East final

ATLANTA — The Magic is playing like a team that will settle for nothing less than its first NBA championship.

Vince Carter scored 22 to lead another dominating performance by Orlando, which finished off its second straight playoff sweep with a 98-84 victory over the Hawks on Monday night.

Orlando won the four games by an average of 25 points, an unexpected blowout in a matchup between the teams that finished second and third in the Eastern Conference. It was the most lopsided four-game sweep in NBA playoff history.

"We can't get carried away by the margins (of victory)," coach Stan Van Gundy said.

The Magic, which lost to the Lakers in last year's Finals, has won 14 in a row — the last eight in the playoffs — and 28 of 31 games.

The Magic will face Boston or Cleveland in the conference final.

"Guys are just focused. It's unbelievable to see," Carter said.

Atlanta held Dwight Howard to 13 points and eight rebounds, but the Magic had other options.

Point guard Jameer Nelson baffled the Hawks with quickness as the Magic raced out to a quick lead in the first half. He finished with 16 points and nine assists. Rashard Lewis scored 17, making four 3-pointers. Mickael Pietrus scored 12, all on 3-pointers.

"We're still the underdogs," Nelson said. "It's a good underdog, though."

The Magic shot 55 percent and never trailed during either game in Atlanta.

"We would have to be playing at our absolute, absolute best — like, mistake free — to beat that team," said Jamal Crawford, who led Atlanta with 18 points. "They have as good a chance as any to win a championship."

Hawks star Joe Johnson finished off a miserable series by scoring 14 on 5-of-15 shooting. He was booed at the start of the game and again when he went to the bench with 3:51 to play. He had said he didn't care if fans "showed up or not" after they heckled the team in a 30-point loss Saturday.

"It doesn't bother me, man," Johnson said. "I've got thick skin. I've been booed louder than that."

Magic 34 19 22 23 98
at Hawks 23 22 21 18 84
Magic 34 19 22 23 98
at Hawks 23 22 21 18 84

ORLANDO (98): Barnes 3-7 0-0 6, Lewis 6-10 1-1 17, Howard 5-5 3-6 13, Nelson 7-11 1-4 16, Carter 7-12 4-6 22, Pietrus 4-8 0-0 12, Anderson 1-6 0-0 3, Redick 0-1 0-0 0, J.Williams 2-4 0-0 6, Gortat 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 36-65 10-19 98.

ATLANTA (84): M.Williams 1-5 0-0 2, Jos.Smith 6-13 4-7 16, Horford 5-11 3-3 13, Bibby 2-3 0-0 4, J.Johnson 5-15 3-5 14, Crawford 5-15 8-11 18, Evans 3-7 0-0 8, Pachulia 2-3 2-2 6, Teague 0-1 0-0 0, Morris 1-1 1-1 3. Totals 30-74 21-29 84.

3-Point GoalsOrlando 16-37 (Lewis 4-7, Carter 4-7, Pietrus 4-8, J.Williams 2-4, Anderson 1-4, Nelson 1-4, Barnes 0-3), Atlanta 3-12 (Evans 2-3, J.Johnson 1-6, Bibby 0-1, Crawford 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsOrlando 51 (Howard, Anderson 8), Atlanta 39 (Jos.Smith 8). AssistsOrlando 27 (Nelson 9), Atlanta 17 (J.Johnson 5). Total FoulsOrlando 23, Atlanta 22. TechnicalsHoward. A18,729 (18,729).

Celtics-Cavs: The Cavaliers will switch to an assortment of players, including LeBron James, to guard Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo tonight. "I don't really care who's guarding me," said Rondo, who had 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in Game 4. James has been effective guarding Paul Pierce.

Around the league: Trail Blazers assistant Monty Williams will reportedly interview today for the Hornets' vacant coaching job. Sunday, Williams and Suns assistant Dan Majerle met with the 76ers to discuss the team's vacant coaching job. … A judge in Chicago ordered the estranged wife of Heat star Dwyane Wade taken into custody after she failed to show up for a divorce hearing. Siohvaughn Wade must post $10,000 bond to be released. … A company run by former Mavericks owner Ross Perot Jr. is suing the club, alleging that it's insolvent or verging on insolvency. Hillwood Investment Properties III Ltd. sued Dallas Basketball Ltd., alleging the Mavericks lost $50 million in the fiscal year ended June 30. Hillwood also alleges the club has lost $273 million since Mark Cuban bought a majority stake in the team in 2000 from Perot, who retains a minority stake. Mavericks majority owner Mark Cuban says he covers the operating deficits out of his own pocket.

Spurs: After an injury-plagued season, guard Tony Parker is facing questions about his future in San Antonio.

"It would surprise me if Tony hadn't played this year with some kind of health ailment that we would even be having this conversation," general manager R.C. Buford said.

Parker and the Spurs head into summer with unmet expectations. Coach Gregg Popovich joked in July that he should be fired if the revamped Spurs didn't win a fifth title, but Monday he dubbed this the most challenging of his 14 years in San Antonio.

Parker never came close to his All-Star form in 2009. The 27-year-old has one year left on his contract, but Buford and Parker tempered rumors that the Spurs might let him go.

"The speculation on Tony is (based) outside of our organization, not internally," Buford said.

Parker said his heart remains in San Antonio.

"I trust Pop and R.C. to make the right decision for our team," Parker said. "They've been great for our team over the years."

Magic 98

Hawks 84

Orlando Magic sweeps Atlanta Hawks, reaches East final 05/11/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 1:24am]

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