Hawks have Magic number for second time in four days

ATLANTA -- Joe Johnson's 13th 30-point game, and third in three wins this season against Orlando, left Atlanta coach Mike Woodson wondering how good his leading scorer would be if he played with the same point guard all the time.

Johnson scored 22 of his 34 points in the second half to help the Hawks answer a third-quarter challenge and beat the Magic 93-83 on Monday night.

Orlando lost its third straight, including two to Atlanta in four days. The Magic have lost eight of its last nine.

The Hawks won the season series against Orlando 3-1. Johnson scored 31, 39 and 34 points in the three wins and only 16 points in the one loss.

"That makes life easy -- if he can do it every night," Woodson said. "He's our go-to guy and they key on him and he gets a lot of double- and triple-teams. Tonight he was able to beat a lot of them."

Woodson said the Hawks hope to have point guard Speedy Claxton return to practice Tuesday. Claxton, who was expected to be the team's starter, has missed 10 straight games with a sore left knee. Overall, he has missed 15 games with sore knees this season.

Meanwhile, backup point guard Tyronn Lue played in his fourth game since missing 16 of 17 games with a groin injury. Lue started and played 26 minutes Monday night "and that's too many for him," Woodson said.

Woodson said the team may have to look for help at the position because Johnson often has to fill in as the point guard.

"We've got to probably start thinking about another point guard," Woodson said.

Johnson said he doesn't change his play against Orlando.

"I'm just taking what the defense gives me," Johnson said. "It's not that I'm coming out thinking about them. I just come out to play."

Orlando pulled to within 48-47 early in the third quarter before the Hawks answered with 13 straight points. Johnson capped the run with a pull-up jumper for a 61-47 lead.

The Hawks led 71-58 after the third quarter, but Grant Hill opened the fourth quarter by scoring seven straight points to cut the lead the six points. Hill led the Magic with 21 points.

Lue ended Hill's run with a 3-pointer, and the Hawks quickly pushed the lead back to double figures. Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 3:10 left to push the Hawks' lead to 89-69.

With Johnson and Lue on the bench, Orlando scored 10 straight points to close to within 89-79 with 1:25 left. Woodson quickly called a timeout to put Johnson back in the game.

The Magic pushed the run to 12-0 to cut the Atlanta lead to 89-81, but the comeback ended there, leaving Magic coach Brian Hill searching for answers.

"I can't put my finger on it," Hill said. "I don't have the answer. I don't know. I'm sorry. ... It's frustrating. It's disappointing."

Added Hill: "When you lose eight out of nine, you're never in a good place."

Josh Smith posted his fourth straight double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds for Atlanta. Lue had 13 points with seven assists and Marvin Williams added 12 points.

Jameer Nelson scored 16 points for Orlando and Dwight Howard had 15 points and seven rebounds. Each starter played only 4 minutes, 53 seconds in the fourth quarter. Brian Hill played rookie J.J. Redick the full final quarter.

"The only thing I can do is control how I play when I'm on the floor," Howard said. "As a team we just have to play as hard as we can while we're on the floor."

Game notes
The Hawks are 8-22 when Johnson is held under 30 points. ... The Hawks are 7-7 in January with one game left in the month Wednesday night against Golden State as they attempt to post a winning record in a month for the first time since going 5-3 in April, 2004. ... Newly signed forward Jeremy Richardson was not in uniform for the Hawks. ... Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones attended the game.