Denton: Magic-Hawks Game 3 Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
April 22, 2011

ATLANTA – Of all the ways to get floored Friday night in Game 3, the Orlando Magic couldn’t have ever seen a knockout punch quite like this coming.

Jamal Crawford’s questionable shot selection was rewarded when his desperation 3-point shot banked off the glass and gave the Atlanta Hawks an 88-84 defeat of the Magic in Friday’s Game 3 at Philips Arena.

Down as many as 14 points in the first half, the Magic came all the way back and took an 84-83 lead with 1 minute to play on Brandon Bass’ clutch jumper from the free throw line. But the Hawks scored the final two baskets of the game – a 15-footer from Al Horford with 46 seconds to play and Crawford’s miracle bank shot from 26 feet out to seal the game.

The defeat dropped the Magic into a 2-1 hole in the best-of-seven first-round playoff series. Game 4 is Sunday night in Atlanta, and superstar center Dwight Howard vowed afterward that he still has supreme confidence that his Magic can win the series.

``It’s still a seven-game series and we’re just down 2-1. They did what they were supposed to do and that’s win the first game here,’’ said Howard, who had 21 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. ``We just can’t allow them to get all hyped up. I’m just going to keep motivating my teammates because I know we can still win this series.’’

Added guard J.J. Redick: ``We just feel like that’s a game that we should have had. Regardless of whether he hits the back shot or not, we’re still down one point and right there. It’s just a tough loss. We did battle back and played hard in the second half. … You can’t take solace in anything when you lose at this point. Now, there just needs to be an incredible sense of urgency on our part. We need to come back Sunday night (for Game 4) and play our best game of the year.’’

The Magic might have suffered more than a loss when Jason Richardson fought with Atlanta center Zaza Pachulia and landed a shove to the face that could result in him being suspended for Game 4. Pachulia repeatedly head-butted Richardson to provoke the punch and both players were ejected from the game with 2:22 to play.

The Magic didn’t have Richardson on the floor for their last meaningful possession and it ended with Hedo Turkoglu launching a step-back, off-balanced 3-pointer with 30 seconds left on the game clock and 10 seconds remaining on the shot clock. Turkoglu (nine points) made just three of 11 shots and one of six tries from 3-point range, dropping his field goal percentage to 25 percent from the floor and 17.6 percent from 3-point range.

``A horrible shot, plenty of time left on the shot clock … just a horrible shot,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy fumed.’’

Richardson had 14 points and Jameer Nelson scored 13, but they combined to make just nine of 27 shots. The Magic shot just 42.5 percent in the game and 28.6 percent from the 3-point line. Orlando’s offensive struggles against Atlanta have carried over into the three games of this series and it is making just 40.7 percent of its shots and 26 percent of the 3-point attempts.

``We know who our guys are and it’s not a matter of us trying to find guys. Our guys are Jameer, Turk and J-Rich, but they’re not having a lot of success,’’ Van Gundy said. ``We have to continue to look at ways to try to get them better opportunities and better shots. And they have to make the ones that they get.’’

Crawford, who has torched the Magic for 23.7 points a game in this series, had another 23 points, three 3-pointers and six free throws. He had a four-point play midway through the fourth period after the Magic took a 71-69 lead, but it was the bank at the end that sucked the life out of the Magic’s hopes.

``I just tried to get my comfort zone, my sweet spots and it felt pretty good getting there,’’ Crawford said. ``I thought I got a good look and it just happened to go down for me.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Friday’s Game 3 from Philips Arena: