Denton: Magic-Hawks Game 2 Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
April 19, 2011

ORLANDO – In a game that was never easy – certainly not when Orlando trailed by 10 points in the second quarter nor when Atlanta got within two points with 2 minutes to play – the Magic were finally able to exhale Tuesday night with a 1-1 split in this best-of-seven playoff series.

Orlando needed another monstrous, 48-minute game from Dwight Howard, a clutch layup from Hedo Turkoglu and a dagger of a 3-pointer from Jason Richardson to hold off Atlanta 88-82 Tuesday at the Amway Center to pull even in this remarkably even first-round playoff series.

J.J. Redick dived on the floor early in the game to corral a loose ball and Jameer Nelson did the same late in the fourth quarter – both dives resulting in key Magic baskets and were emblematic of the effort that the Magic poured into what many considered a must-win.

The Magic needed all of that hustle and grit to make up for shooting just 34.6 percent from the floor. To make matters worse, Orlando hit just five of 23 3-pointers. But it held a Hawks team that shot 51 percent in Game 1 to just 39 percent on Tuesday.

``This one came down to one thing and to me that was us playing extremely hard,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``Especially from the time we were down 10 in the first half we played with unbelievable intensity. Obviously we’re going to have to shoot the ball better, but I thought our effort was above and beyond. When you can shoot 34 percent in a playoff game and win it I’ve got to be very proud of our guys.’’

Two days after scoring a career-best 46 points and a day after being named the Defensive Player of the Year for a record third consecutive season, Howard was brilliant again, this time playing the entire 48 minutes without a rest. He had 33 points by making nine of 12 shots and 15 of 19 free throws and added 19 rebounds, two steals and a block. It was the second time in Howard’s illustrious seven-year career that he’s played all 48 minutes in a regulation game.

``I just told coach if I get tired to call a timeout. He just kept asking me, `Do I want to come out of the game?’ I just said, `Keep playing,’’’ said Howard, who is shooting 71.4 percent from the floor in the series. ``I just felt like I need to be on the floor and I wasn’t in foul trouble. … You can’t think about any pain and you just have to fight through it. As much as I get hit and beat on I just think about what we’re trying to accomplish.

``Like I told everybody, `I’ll sleep when I die,’’’ Howard continued. ``I’ll take my rest when they put me under the ground. Until then while I’m on Earth, I have to put in work. If I play 48 minutes, I play 48 minutes. That’s why they make this Gatorade. This (drink) is the before and this (drink) is the recover.’’

Richardson and Turkoglu, who both struggled through poor shooting nights, had two of the biggest plays down the stretch for the Magic. After Nelson had dived on the floor to save a loose ball, Turkoglu got to the rim for a layup that hung on the back of the rim for a full second before falling through to put Orlando up 80-76. Much more aggressive after passing up too many shots in Game 1, Turkoglu scored 10 points, but missed 12 of 16 shots and six of his seven 3-point tries.

Seconds later, Richardson took a drive-and-kick feed from Turkoglu and buried a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Magic an 83-76 lead. Richardson, who finished with eight points, was off most of the night, hitting just three of his 12 shots.

Ryan Anderson, who was held scoreless in Game 1 by an Atlanta team determined to take away Orlando’s 3-pointer, hit two treys, scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds off the bench.

``Atlanta is a team that if things aren’t going their way they kind of struggle a little, but we feel like we know how to fight back, bring a little more focus and not make mistakes more than once,’’ Anderson said.

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Tuesday night’s Game 2 at the Amway Center: