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 on Monday.
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 on Monday.
(Writing by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by Frank Pingue; To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)