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Penny Perfect: Magic Take Hawks

Twenty seconds of excitement saved the night for Orlando.

Penny Hardaway nearly had a triple-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and the Atlantic Division-leading Magic overcame poor shooting and mistakes down the stretch to beat the Atlanta Hawks 70-67 Monday night.

Hardaway made four free throws in the final 2:48 and also blocked a shot and grabbed a crucial rebound after nearly costing the Magic a chance for victory with a bad inbounds pass.

Dikembe Mutombo had 23 points and 12 rebounds for Atlanta, which led 67-66 when Mookie Blaylock stole Hardaway's inbounds pass with 20 seconds to go.

Hardaway blocked Blaylock's layup from behind, chased down the loose ball and began a fast break leading to two free throws by Ike Austin that put Orlando ahead for good.

"My heart sank when Mookie stole that pass, and I knew I had to do something," Hardaway said. "I thought he would pull it back, but luckily he didn't and I was able to get there."

Hardaway added pair of free throws for the final margin of victory after rebounding Blaylock's miss with 1.2 seconds left. The Hawks turned the ball over on their final possession.

The Magic, coming off a six-point loss in which they blew a 20-point lead Sunday at Miami, shot 33 percent (26-for-78) from the field. But the Hawks weren't any better, also making 33 percent of their attempts (23-of-69) while committing 18 turnovers.

"As you can see by the stat sheet, this was two tired teams," said Orlando coach Chuck Daly. "Everybody struggled to make it through the game. When you're playing the amount of games we are, and everybody's doing it, the game is going to suffer some nights."

Orlando, which missed 14 of 17 shots in the third quarter, remained unbeaten in eight home games and improved the best record in the Eastern Conference to 11-4.

The Magic led 40-38 at the half, despite scoring only 17 points in the second quarter. They continued to struggle offensively in the third period, yet Atlanta was only able to outscore them 16-8 to lead 54-48 going into the final quarter.

It was the Hawks' turn to struggle in the last 12 minutes. They were held to 13 points in the fourth quarter while missing 12 of 15 shots.

"We were not able to put any distance between us and them. They hung around and hung around," Atlanta coach Lenny Wilkens said.

"I thought we played really good defense, and down the stretch there made a great steal. But they made a great block. ... You can sit here and say maybe we should have held it, or we should have done a lot of things. It's a tough loss because we played so hard."

Nick Anderson scored 15 points for Orlando and Austin finished with 11. LaPhonso Ellis scored 15 and Tyrone Corbin had 11 for Atlanta.

"This is a tough one to swallow, particularly in a shortened season," Ellis said. "You have to seize every opportunity hat you get."

Notes: The Hawks played without Alan Henderson, who has missed the last three games because of severe back muscle spasms ... Hardaway, who complained about the officiating Sunday during Orlando's six-point loss to Miami, said he expects he will be fined for his post-game comments ... The Magic scored 25 points in the opening quarter, but just 19 over the next 20 minutes ... Atlanta is 2-3 since Steve Smith went on the injured list with a slightly sprained right knee.

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