Denton: Magic-Hawks Game 4 Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
April 24, 2011

ATLANTA – Much like in this increasingly frustrating series, the Orlando Magic could never get over the hump on Sunday night against the Atlanta Hawks. Now, trailing 3-1, the Magic are faced with overcoming a mountain of odds to save their playoff lives.

The Magic dug their way out of an early hole and twice got Game 4 tied in the fourth quarter on Sunday night, but they could never take the lead and had to stomach a crushing 88-85 loss to the Hawks that dropped them into a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series.

To get out of the first round of the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season, the fourth-seeded Magic must now beat the fifth-seeded Hawks three straight games. Game 5 is Tuesday night in the Amway Center. Counting regular-season play, the Hawks have now defeated the Magic in six of eight games this season, including all four times at Atlanta’s Philips Arena.

Only eight teams in playoff history have ever rallied back from a 3-1 deficit, most recently the 2006 Phoenix Suns against the Los Angeles Lakers.

``I just told the team if they don’t still believe that we can win the series to stay in Atlanta,’’ Magic center Dwight Howard said sternly. ``We just have to believe and guys have to make shots.’’

The Magic’s final gasp Sunday night was a desperation 3-point heave from Hedo Turkoglu that found nothing but the back of the rim. It ended an otherwise dreadful shooting night for a Magic team that made just three of 23 shots from the 3-point line.

``Our guys are at the point where they are throwing it up there and not expecting it to go in,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``You have to get yourself through these things and a big, big part of being a professional athlete is being able to handle the slumps and tough times and keep your head into it and bounce back. …

We’re running out of time, so guys have to break out of it soon. So right now mental toughness is as huge as mental toughness.’’

The Magic got 29 points, 17 rebounds and two blocked shots from Howard and a surprising 20 points off the bench from point guard Gilbert Arenas. But there was little else to speak of from a Magic team that shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and 8.7 percent from 3-point range.

Turkoglu (six points) missed 10 of 12 shots and all six of his 3-point shots. Point guard Jameer Nelson (six points, six assists) misfired on nine of 12 shots and missed all four threes. J.J. Redick (two points) and Ryan Anderson (four points) combined to miss all seven of their 3-point shots.

``I don’t know if there’s an answer for what’s going on with our shooting,’’ Redick said. ``We had a rough start, we battled back and we had our chances with plays down the stretch, but we could never get over the hump. I feel like we’re getting good looks, I really do, but I don’t know how to explain it. I wish I did, but I could we would be shooting better than 4 percent.’’

The Magic were without starting shooting guard Jason Richardson, their second-leading scorer during the regular season, because of a one-game suspension for fighting with Atlanta reserve center Zaza Pachulia. In Sunday’s first half, Orlando certainly missed having Richardson – the NBA’s leader this season in 3-point makes and attempts – as they made just one of their first 19 tries from beyond the arc.

Here is a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Sunday’s Game 4 at Philips Arena: