Denton: Magic-Hawks Game 6 Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
April 28, 2011


  • Down 71-59 early in the third period and given up for dead by some after Crawford made consecutive 3-pointers, the Magic made a dazzling run to give themselves a chance down the stretch.

    With Howard and Nelson running the pick-and-roll almost to perfection, the Magic ripped off a 14-5 run to draw within two points of the lead. Howard had three dunks in the run, including a spectacular one in which he reached back over his head and grabbed a 3-point miss by Anderson and stuffed it home.

    ``We knew how we needed to play them, we didn’t do that and that’s why they won the series,’’ Howard said. ``The better team is moving on.’’

    Anderson’s 3-pointer with 4:41 to play got the Magic within 76-74, but he missed another 3-point shot a minute later that could have given Orlando its first lead since 12-10 in the first period.


  • Thursday’s first half was one that Anderson will want to forget as soon as possible.

    In six minutes of action, Anderson did not score, grabbed just one rebound and committed three fouls. He gave up back-to-back follow dunks to Atlanta power forward Al Horford, prompting a heated exchange with Van Gundy along the Magic bench during a timeout.

    Anderson then made matters much worse when he fouled Jamal Crawford, the NBA’s all-time leader in four-point plays, on a corner 3-pointer. Anderson then argued the call and was whistled for a technical foul that turned the possession into a five-point swing for the Hawks.

    ``Emotions are going and they might make some calls that you don’t think are the right calls,’’ Anderson said. ``With my technical I guess I should have kept more composure, but it was the heat of the game. It was a hard-fought game, and we battled and were resilient, but it’s just frustrating for us right now.’’

  • Remarkably, in a must-win game where energy, intensity and playing hard should be a given, the Magic were badly outworked and outhustled in the first half on the glass.

    Atlanta had nearly as many offensive rebounds (10) in the first half as the Magic had total boards (13). The Hawks held a 26-13 advantage on the glass in the first 24 minutes, outscoring the Magic 6-2 in second-chance points. The work on the glass helped Atlanta overcome 32 percent shooting in the first two quarters and lead the Magic 42-36. Johnson and Horford combined for seven offensive rebounds in the first half alone.

    Said Van Gundy: ``We weren’t getting bodies on people at all. There were some of them at the glass, but balls were falling short. (Al) Horford had a big one in the fourth quarter, but it was an airball by Josh Smith. We were almost defending too well. They got offensive rebounds on at least four airballs. They just came up with the loose balls and we didn’t put bodies on people.’’


  • Howard, who can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, said this series loss wouldn’t affect his decision in 2012. He professed his love for Orlando and the Magic fans and vowed to come back better next season. He made a major jump offensively this season, something that made him a strong candidate in the race for the MVP.

    ``(The 2012 free agency) has nothing to do with right now,’’ Howard said. ``There’s no need for me to comment on it, talk about it or bring it up. Right now, I’m going to figure out how I’m going to make myself better for next season and not what team I want to play for. Right now, I’m with the Magic, so all of the speculation should stop. There’s no need to talk about it.’’

  • At long, long last, an opposing center who took a wild swing at Howard on a foul was whistled for a flagrant foul. The culprit was Atlanta’s Zaza Pachulia, who whacked Howard across the arms on a post move late in the third quarter.

    Entering Game 6, Howard had been fouled a NBA-most 765 times during the regular season and another 55 times in the playoffs without an opponent once being whistled for a flagrant foul. The Magic have repeatedly complained to the league about the whacks that Howard takes on a nightly basis.

    Seconds before the flagrant foul, Hedo Turkoglu was whistled for a flagrant foul for a hard hit on Pachulia on a layup attempt.

  • The refereeing crew of Derrick Stafford, Michael Smith and Bill Kennedy blew a call in the third quarter when the Magic were whistled for an eight seconds backcourt violation.

    The refs were going off the shot clock, which had ticked down to 16 seconds. What they failed to remember was that the shot clock started when Howard grabbed a rebound, but the ball was knocked out of his hands and out of bounds before he could make an outlet pass. The eight-second count should have started over, but it did not.

  • Howard said he had a tough time coming up with words for his teammates after the loss, but he wanted to pass along a message to Magic fans about his commitment to bringing a championship to Orlando someday.

    ``It’s going to get better and just keep believing. I’m going to keep making Orlando one of the best places to play,’’ Howard said. ``I’ll do whatever I can to lead my city. I love Orlando, so I’ll do as much as I can. I put in a lot of hard work (last) offseason and I’m going to continue to do that. Our fans deserve a championship and I’m just going to keep fighting. That’s all I can do is keep fighting.’’


    John Denton writes for E-mail John at Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at