Defense, Intensity & Passion Define Game 2 Win

By Josh Cohen
April 20, 2011

ORLANDO -- Stan Van Gundy must have went home on Tuesday night after his team’s Game 2 victory and said to himself: that was the kind of defensive effort and intensity I have been asking of my players this entire season.

Orlando refused to surrender to Atlanta on every possession. Some examples include J.J. Redick’s strip of Kirk Hinrich and subsequent dive before tossing an over-the-shoulder pass to Jameer Nelson for the uncontested layup (WATCH) and Dwight Howard’s monster rejection on Hinrich (WATCH).

The playoffs are all about which team wants it more and which team is willing to go above and beyond for the full 48 minutes. As a result, the rest of this series between the Magic and Hawks – which already after two games is electrifying – will come down to defensive execution and passion.

Just like it did the last two seasons when it advanced to the NBA Finals in 2009 and then returned to the conference finals last year, Orlando prides itself on its ability to bully its opponents with relentlessness and sheer hustle.

It was enjoyable to watch Nelson submerge on the floor and snatch a loose ball away from Hinrich in the late stages of Game 2 – which eventually led to a critical basket by Hedo Turkoglu.

It was equally elating to see the Magic clamp down the Hawks’ best perimeter scorers and limit Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford and Hinrich to just 18-of-44 shooting from the field.

It was also special to observe every player in blue and white dive, scratch and claw for every loose ball and rebound.

It showed in the final statistics: Orlando grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and accumulated nine steals.

“We played with unbelievable intensity,” Van Gundy said. "Our guys effort tonight was above and beyond.”

Needless to say, it will take a similar effort the rest of the series to beat Atlanta and advance.

While the Magic seemed to figure out much of the Hawks’ schemes in Game 2, they recognize that Atlanta is going to return home with some added confidence after splitting the first two games in Orlando.

“They’re not backing down; we’re definitely not backing down,” Quentin Richardson said. At no point did we think it was going to be easy. We know it’s going to be a fight and we have to go in there and do it.”

Game 3 is set for Friday night at 8 p.m. ET at Philips Arena.