Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Josh Smith's soaring one-handed putback dunk off a missed jumper beat the buzzer by the slimmest of margins to hand the Hawks a dramatic 86-84 win over division rival Orlando and secure a playoff berth.
Joe Johnson had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds, while Mike Bibby struck for four three-pointers en route to 14 points, as Atlanta climbed to within 3 1/2 games of Orlando for the Southeast Division lead and booked a spot in the postseason for a third straight year.
Jameer Nelson dropped 20 points and dished eight assists. Dwight Howard grabbed a staggering 24 rebounds and put in 19 points but the Magic saw a three-game win streak shattered by Smith's heroics. Carter ended with 16 points in the loss.
Orlando was gunning for a season sweep of its division rivals after taking the first three games this season.
"They had three offensive rebounds the whole night, three, and that's one of them. How do you stand there and watch on that play, I don't know," said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy of the game's final sequence. "We got frozen, you're just watching the guy go."
The Magic went without a field goal in the final period until Carter sank a jump shot with 7:19 to play, and four consecutive free throws by Smith from there made it an 11-point difference in Atlanta's favor close to two minutes later.
But the Hawks had shooting troubles of their own and went without a field goal all the way from Bibby's three at the 10:23 mark until the clock showed 1:38 remaining, as the Magic slowly pulled to within one, 78-77, behind a 10-0 run.
Orlando's offense got on track following six straight free throws, as Nelson connected on a medium range jump shot and Howard threw down an emphatic dunk with 2:26 on the clock.
Smith finally ended the Hawks' drought with a contested jumper from deep on the right wing for an 80-77 lead as the clock rolled toward the final minute.
Smith came back with a swat of J.J. Redick's attempt at a layup. The Magic retained possession and Howard secured the carom off a Redick miss, was fouled and made both for a one-point game with 40.8 ticks left.
Johnson came back with two at the line for Atlanta, but it remained a one- possession game at 82-79, and Carter coasted to an uncontested layup with 17 seconds to go.
Johnson was again clutch from the charity stripe to keep the margin at three, but Carter rose up at the top of the key and drained a game-tying three-ball.
Johnson drove toward the left baseline with the clock about to expire and got off a wild, off-balance shot that struck all iron and popped straight up. Smith leapt from along the opposite baseline and rattled the cylinder with his game-winner that sent the crowd at Philips Arena into a frenzy.
"Giving up a big lead with about five minutes left, and eventually losing it, it would have been another heartbreaker," Smith said. "It wouldn't have put a dent in our confidence (but) it definitely would have been disappointing."
Orlando built a 22-16 lead after 12 minutes, but Maurice Evans came off the bench to help spark a Hawks revival in the second quarter. His dunk and three- pointer jump-started a 7-0 burst that yielded a 24-23 edge in the early going.
Back-to-back threes from Bibby put the hosts on top down the stretch and contributed to a 9-0 run that saw Atlanta up 46-42 at the break.
The Hawks were able to retain a slim advantage in the opening stages of the second half. Bibby then contributed five points to a 9-0 stretch for the hosts that yielded a 61-50 lead halfway through. Atlanta was up 68-62 moving to the final period.
Bibby hit from beyond the arc a short time into the fourth to extend the lead to nine.
The Hawks have won seven in a row at home and sport a 29-7 mark at Philips Arena this season. They are currently tied with Boston for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference...The Magic had been unbeaten in their previous six matchups with the Hawks...Orlando also had a five-game win streak on the road halted, falling to 22-15 as the visitor...The Hawks' bench outscored Orlando 24-11. Jamal Crawford had 11 of those while Evans scored all 10 of his points in the first half...Matt Barnes scored a dozen points for Orlando, which ended its three-game road trip on a sour note.