Magic and Lakers close in on series sweeps

ATLANTA, (Reuters) – The red-hot Orlando Magic are  one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference finals  after a dominating victory Saturday that left the Atlanta Hawks  on the brink of elimination.
Orlando, winners of 13 straight since April 2, cruised to a  105-75 victory over Atlanta for a commanding 3-0 lead in the  best-of-seven series. No NBA team has overcome such a deficit.

In the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers edged the  Utah Jazz 111-110 courtesy of a late run that saw back-to-back  three pointers by Kobe Bryant and Jeff Fisher in the game’s  final minute.

The Jazz, who grabbed a loose inbound pass by the Lakers,  had two chances to win in the final seconds but Deron Williams  missed a 22-foot jumper and team mate Wesley Matthews’s tip  bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded to end the game.
Game Four is in Utah today.

In Atlanta, the 30-point margin of defeat marked the worst  home playoff loss in the franchise’s history and prompted Hawks  center Al Horford to call out his team mates.

“Effort. Effort. That’s all it is,” Horford told reporters.  “It’s frustrating. I’m not the kind of person who’s going to go  out there and point people out. I’ll let them know. But you’re  not going to see me cursing somebody out. They know what they  have to do and it’s frustrating when the effort is not there.”

Drawing momentum from their second half comeback in the  previous game, Orlando built a 28-18 first-quarter lead and  stretched it to 52-33 by halftime.

Rashard Lewis led the Magic with 22 points and Dwight  Howard added 21 points and 16 rebounds. The Magic bench  contributed 30 points while logging significant minutes.

“It looked like our guys were ready to play. We came out  early in the second half with a big lead and still played even  harder,” Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters. “Our guys are not playing overconfident, and it’s good to see how  we’re playing.”

Sixth man Jamal Crawford led the anemic Hawks offense with 22 points, while Josh Smith had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

The Magic, who have won the first three games by an average of 29 points, can wrap up the series with a victory today.

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