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Smith ignores trade rumors, leads Hawks past Magic

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO -- Veteran Josh Smith sure doesn't play like a man who wants to be traded.

He is playing and talking like a man who loves where he is, leading the Atlanta Hawks with another great game and a second consecutive victory going into All-Star Weekend and next week's NBA trade deadline.

Smith, who has been the subject of numerous trade talks with a variety of teams, had 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and two blocked shots, leading the Hawks to a 108-76 victory over the hapless Orlando Magic Wednesday night.

Teammate Al Horford had 26 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Neither played in the fourth quarter, both watching from the sideline as teammates coasted to another easy victory against the Magic.

The Hawks (29-22) have beaten the Magic (15-37) in nine consecutive regular-season games. It was the last game before the All-Star break for both teams.

The Magic were led by Jameer Nelson and Andrew Nicholson, who each had 10 points.

"I'm just playing basketball, not worrying about any outside distractions," Smith said. "I think we've all elevated our game recently. We play well together. I like playing here, but I can't worry about any of the rumors. I just block them out."

Smith, who hit 13 of 20 shots Wednesday, had 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in Monday's victory in Dallas. In the last three games, he has made nine of his 13 shots from 3-point range.

"He's a real professional. His maturity level is high. His name comes up all the time (in trade rumors), but he doesn't let it affect him," said Hawks coach Larry Drew. "He and Al play off each other so well."

The Hawks, who lost All-Star Joe Johnson to Brooklyn last summer, are jockeying again for playoff position, hoping to secure home-court advantage in the first round. Smith, now in his eighth NBA season, will become a free agent this summer, which has sparked the trade talks.

"It's a complement that other teams want you, and you have some type of value in the league," Smith said. "But we've been doing the right things here, and we're clicking on all cylinders. We just have to keep it up."

The game Wednesday was never competitive in the second half. The Hawks outscored the Magic 32-17 in the second quarter and 33-20 in the third. The fourth quarter was played with all reserves in the game.

The Hawks, who were coming off a victory in Dallas two nights before, dominated around the basket with a 54-41 rebounding edge.

"This is a great way to go into the break," Drew said. "From a mental standpoint, from start to finish, we set the tone and didn't look back. Both Josh and Al, they were really super tonight."

For the Magic, it was their third home loss this season by 30 points or more.

By late in the third quarter, Smith and Horford together were outscoring the entire Magic team, 52-47.

The Hawks led by as many as 25 points in the first half, and the Magic were offering little resistance. Horford and Smith combined for 30 points and 17 rebounds before intermission. The Hawks held a 30-18 rebounding edge in the first two quarters.

The Magic actually led by five points early in the first quarter, but the Hawks quickly grabbed control.

"We got punked," said Magic guard J.J. Redick, who had just eight points in 18 minutes. "We were down, definitely down. Nothing more to say."

The Hawks had 32 assists and just nine turnovers. The Magic had only 18 assists and 15 turnovers.

The Magic were without forward Hedo Turkoglu, who was suspended by the NBA for 20 games earlier in the day for violating the league's drug policy. He tested positive for methenolone, a well-known anabolic steroid.

Turkoglu was the second Magic player to be suspended under the league's current drug policy. Rashard Lewis was suspended for the first 10 games of the 2009-10 season for a positive test.

Turkoglu, who broke his hand on opening night, has not been a factor this season, playing in only 11 games and averaging 17.2 minutes, 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds. He was shooting just 26 percent from the field.

In a news conference before the game, Turkoglu blamed a medication he took over the summer in Turkey, while recovering from a shoulder injury. He also said the NBA drug-tested him in December. He was told of the positive result a week ago.

NOTES: First-year Magic coach Jacque Vaughn didn't try to make excuses for Turkoglu's suspension. "As a professional athlete, you have a responsibility to know what you put in your body. At the end of the day, you have to know what it is, whether it's at a rest stop, a vitamin shop, or after a massage. It doesn't matter," Vaughn said. Vaughn also denied that there is a problem with performance enhancing drugs in the NBA. "I can speak as a former player, and I'd say no (it's not a problem). No, I don't think it's a problem in the NBA.". ... Drew said before the game that all the trade talk and trade rumors surrounding Smith have not affected his team. The Hawks have been talking with several teams about a potential deal for Smith, who will become a free agent this summer. "It's always a topic, but it has not been a distraction. It's just 'that time of year,'" Drew said. ... In the nine consecutive regular-season losses to the Hawks, the Magic have never scored more than 87 points. "We zeroed in on the things they like to do," Drew said. ... Hawks guard Jeff Teague, who is averaging 14.3 points, has been on a roll, scoring at least 20 points in each of the previous four games. He finished with seven points and 11 assists Wednesday.
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