- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2008

From combined dispatches

Hawks 102, Celtics 93

ATLANTA — Led by high-flying Josh Smith, Atlanta finally showed it can beat Boston.

Good timing.

Smith scored 27 points — and give him a perfect 10 in his own personal dunking contest — to lead the Hawks to a victory last night that breathed life into their long-shot playoff hopes, cutting Boston’s lead in the opening-round series to 2-1.

Atlanta earned its first playoff win since May 16, 1999, a Game 5 clincher over the Detroit Pistons. The Hawks were swept by New York in the next round, then spent nine long years trying to get back to the postseason.

After getting blown out twice in Boston, Smith and the Hawks seemed to take out all their frustrations on a 66-win Celtics team that finished 29 games ahead of eighth-seeded Atlanta during the regular season. When the buzzer sounded, streamers fell from the ceiling of Philips Arena as if the home team had just won a championship.

The Hawks, who went 37-45 during the regular season, are still huge underdogs. But for one night at least, Smith had the rim rockin’ and the sellout crowd of 19,725 on its feet.

Lakers 102, Nuggets 84

DENVER — Once again, Denver couldn’t keep its emotions or Kobe Bryant in check.

Bryant scored 22 points and Los Angeles took a 3-0 lead in their first-round series, routing the flustered Nuggets.

Game 4 is tomorrow night, and the Nuggets are going to have to get more out of their All-Star duo of Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson if they hope to take the series back to Staples Center.

Anthony and Iverson were miserable from the floor, shooting a combined 10-for-38 and finishing with 16 and 15 points, respectively.

Bryant was quiet, too, at least in the first half, when he scored eight points on 3-for-8 shooting.

He scored nine quick points in the third quarter, however, to put the Lakers ahead 64-51 and quiet the Pepsi Center crowd that loves to hate him.

Magic 106, Raptors 94

TORONTO — Rashard Lewis had 27 points and 13 rebounds, Dwight Howard added 19 points and 16 boards and Orlando beat Toronto to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Jameer Nelson scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, while Hedo Turkoglu had 18 points and nine rebounds for the third-seeded Magic.

Chris Bosh set a career playoff-high with 39 points and added 15 rebounds for the Raptors, who face elimination in Game 5 tomorrow night at Orlando. T.J. Ford had 12 points and 13 assists for the Raptors.

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