Cohen Courtside: Magic vs. Hawks (2/10/12)

By Josh Cohen
February 10, 2012

In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.


ORLANDO -- That was eerie.

It seems we just had a real-life Groundhog Day.

But instead, the character Chris Paul was played by Jeff Teague, Caron Butler was portrayed as Joe Johnson and Josh Smith represented Blake Griffin.

Friday’s heartbreaking loss at Amway Center to the Hawks was practically a duplicate of Monday’s distressing defeat to the Clippers.

Squeezed in between their best performance of the season against the Heat, the Orlando Magic just endured two crushing overtime defeats in the same week and if you review the play-by-play, you will notice too many paranormal similarities.

Like Monday, Jason Richardson missed a 3-point attempt in the final seconds of OT.

Like Monday when Paul and Butler connected on several momentum-shifting shots, Johnson and Teague did the same for the Hawks on Friday.

Like Monday, Jameer Nelson had an opportunity to win the game for the Magic but misfired.

"It's definitely tough, we had opportunities," Nelson said. "We had opportunities, just had to execute a little better."

And to make things even more spectral, Friday’s game too closely resembled all of the losses the Magic endured in last season’s First Round playoff series against Atlanta.

Like Games 3, 4 and 6 in A-Town, the Magic had several chances to stun the Hawks but couldn’t connect on any of their most pivotal shot attempts.

The Magic were sure resilient as they overcame an eight-point deficit with less than three minutes remaining in regulation. Dwight Howard slammed home a game-tying dunk with 1.3 ticks left to force the extra session.

But ultimately, Orlando couldn’t surmount those pressure-packed moments. Revenge will have to wait until the next time the Magic-Hawks meet up (the night before the All-Star break).

The Magic and Hawks are opposites in many ways – yet somehow they always end up in games that are tooth and nail.

Orlando has the dominant inside presence with Howard and a bunch of good outside shooters around him, while Atlanta possesses several guys who thrive in isolation (Johnson, Teague, Tracy McGrady, etc.).

What has transpired the last several times these division rivals have clashed is that Atlanta’s assets have proven to be more efficient in those pressure-fueled moments.

Johnson, like he did in last year’s playoff series, is extremely difficult to stop when he shoots over the top of his opponents and Teague is masterful in his penetration in the lane.

The Magic seem to be searching for the right formula to close games out. Up until this point, it’s been Nelson and Howard in the pick-and-roll and either Jameer driving to the rim or him kicking it to one of Orlando’s shooters.

The execution has been solid considering the Magic have attempted good shots. They just have to hope eventually these attempts will find the bottom of the net and instead of heartbreak, they can indulge in celebration.

"We got looks that we would like to have down the stretch of any game," Stan Van Gundy said. "Our executive was very good down the stretch. It was make or miss."

In the closing seconds with the Magic down by two, who would you want taking the final shot?
In the closing seconds with the Magic down by two, who would you want taking the final shot?
Latest Results

Follow Josh Cohen on Twitter here