Cohen: Further Review - Part 2

By Josh Cohen
December 20, 2011

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GAME 4


It was apparent after Game 3’s thriller that 2011 was a far contrast from the bird slashing that transpired one year earlier.

Unlike Orlando’s whitewashing of Atlanta in 2010, this First Round playoff affair was hair-raising and unpredictable.

With both Jason Richardson and Zaza Pachulia suspended for Game 4 following their Game 3 altercation, the Magic would need to rely on their bench for some life support.

After the Hawks once again jumped out to a sizeable lead in the first half, the Magic, behind a surprising performance from Gilbert Arenas, stormed back.

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, it started to feel like Groundhog Day. Parallel to what emerged in Game 3, this tug-a-war evolved into another late-game suspense story.

While Arenas blessed Orlando with several critical baskets down the stretch, it wasn’t enough to halt Atlanta’s poised backcourt.

In contrast from Game 3, however, when Jamal Crawford propelled the Hawks with his clutch shooting, on this night it was the combination of Joe Johnson and Kirk Hinrich to terminate the Magic’s aspirations of winning at least one on Atlanta’s home court before returning to Orlando.

After Hedo Turkoglu’s 3-point hoist on a broken final possession sailed long, it was hard to believe that less than 12 months since a series sweep over their familiar foes the Magic were down 3-1.


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GAME 5


There is a message every team conveys whenever they are searching for a boost during a playoff series struggle: Take one game at a time and don’t look past present challenges.

A strength all season and a necessitation of Stan Van Gundy’s schemes, the Magic’s cheerless 3-point shooting over the first four games of this series raised uncommon concerns.

Orlando shot a combined 21-of-96 from long distance and it was no secret that the Magic would need to start landing their launches from outside the 3-point arc to creep back into this series.

And finally, at home with strident support from the fans at Amway Center, Orlando’s proverbial shooting aptitude was revealed.

The Magic connected on 11 of their 26 attempts from deep distance and despite a substandard performance from Dwight Howard, Orlando’s balanced attack in Game 5 trimmed Atlanta’s series advantage.

"We're a good shooting team," Stan Van Gundy said after Game 5. "This is more of us than what we showed in the first four games. ... This isn't an aberration. We've been doing this for four years. The first four games were the aberration."

J. Richardson returned from his one-game absence to score 17 points in spite of playing on an injured left foot.


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GAME 6


There is nothing more demanding than trying to avoid elimination on the road.

It was this intricate test that faced the Magic as they returned to Atlanta to play in front of a raucous Hawks crowd.

And to no real surprise, Game 6 would prove to be very similar in impetus to the previous two crusades in A-Town.

Like Games 3 and 4, the Hawks jumped out to comfortable lead. Atlanta’s guards blazed around like a trip to Chicago for the conference semifinals was imminent.

But the theme was unswerving; the Magic would rally back and it would come down to the final two minutes of the fourth quarter to determine the outcome.

With Howard manning the paint by flushing home a couple of thunderous slam-dunks and with Nelson attacking the basket, Orlando was in position to modify the habituated ending from Games 3 and 4.

But instead, Johnson’s clutch scoring and Atlanta’s composure together with a critical missed 3-point attempt from J.J. Redick in the final seconds sealed any hopes of Orlando overcoming a 3-1 series deficit.

The Hawks had earned redemption from a year earlier and stunningly; the Magic had a long offseason to ponder their disheartening early playoff exit.

"A team that fights as hard as our guys did, and I couldn't get them over the hump to win this series, that really is disappointing to me and the job that I did as a coach," Van Gundy said, choking up a bit. "I'm just disappointed not to be able to get my team over the hump."


WATCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM GAME 6







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