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:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • Shredded defensively much of Game 1 by the hot-shooting Hawks, the Magic were much more aggressive, physical and active on Tuesday night to frustrate Atlanta.

    Atlanta, which made 51 percent on Saturday, shot just 39 percent on Tuesday. All five Hawks starters shot less than 50 percent from the floor after making at least half of their shots on Saturday.

    The Magic used three defenders on Joe Johnson (six of 15, 14 points), kept running bodies at Al Horford (four of 11, 10 points) and dared Kirk Hinrich (four of 12, nine points) to shoot the same jumpers that he made on Saturday.

    ``Our defense was a lot better and we were more active on the defensive end,’’ said Howard, who made Jamal Crawford (25 points) heave a layup attempt over the top of the backboard. ``One thing we talked about in practice was being more active on the defensive end. The Hawks have struggled when teams are very active and you make the paint congested. We have to do the same things again and force them to make plays late in the shot clock instead of letting them get guys open.’’

  • Howard was at his dominating best in the first half, leading the Magic back after they fell behind early in the game. He had a double-double by halftime with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

    Howard had 20 points in the second quarter, tying the franchise playoff record for points in a quarter. Coincidentally, Nelson had set that record in Saturday’s third quarter with 20 points.

    Howard made seven of nine shots and 10 of 13 free throws in the first half alone. He also blocked a shot and had six offensive boards.

    He started the fourth quarter off with two left-handed hook shots and showed no signs of wearing down despite never coming out of the game.

    ``I just don’t know how he does it; I guess that’s why they call him Superman,’’ Richardson said of the Magic’s franchise center. ``He’s taking a beating down there and guys are hacking him all night, and that has to take a toll on your body. But he just keeps on doing it for us.’’

  • J.J. Redick brought the Amway Center crowd to its feet Saturday night simply by checking into the game after missing five weeks with a lower abdominal strain. On Tuesday, he brought the crowd to its feet in a very different manner.

    With the Magic trailing 32-23, Redick drove on the floor to beat Atlanta’s Kirk Hinrich to a loose ball. Redick then had the wherewithal to shovel the ball ahead to Nelson, who scooted in for a run-away layup.

    The play, which received a rousing ovation, jump-started a 12-2 run that helped the Magic get the scored tied at 34-all after falling behind by as many as 10 points.

  • WHAT WENT WRONG

  • Making 3-pointers against an Atlanta defense designed to take them away continues to be an issue for the Magic.

    In four regular-season games against the Hawks, Orlando made just 19 of 84 3-pointers. The Magic hit just six of 22 tries from beyond the arc in Game 1, which at 27 percent was actually an improvement over the regular season.

    Orlando made just five of 23 3-point tries on Tuesday with Richardson, Turkoglu and Redick struggling from beyond the arc all game long. Redick did not make any of his three 3-point attempts and Turkoglu’s only 3-pointer came at the end of the third period. And with the Magic up just 80-76, Richardson made one of his biggest shots in a Magic uniform by burying a 3-pointer from the right corner to put Orlando up 83-76 with 1:08 to play.

    ``that was a relief making that shot,’’ Richardson said. ``I’ve been talking to the coaches and they have been telling me to keep shooting. I just think I’ve been too amped up and I just have to relax out there and have fun.’’

  • Understandably, there was plenty of angst inside the Amway Center when the Magic made just six of 20 shots and turned the ball over six times in the first quarter. That allowed Atlanta to take a 22-16 lead after one period.

    And by the time Jamal Crawford made consecutive jump shots midway through the second quarter, Orlando was down 32-22 and needed a timeout to quiet the Hawks’ momentum.

  • FINAL OBSERVATIONS

  • One adjustment that Van Gundy made after Game 1 was getting more size on Atlanta’s Johnson in the form of the 6-foot-10 Turkoglu.

    Johnson had his way with Jason Richardson and J.J. Redick in Game 1, scoring 25 points in mostly one-on-one sets. But Turkoglu had some success early in the game by giving Johnson trouble with his added length. Johnson made just three of eight shots and two of them came on deep 3-pointers at the end of the shot clock.

  • Unlike in Game 1 when Howard scored the Magic’s first 12 points of the game, the star center didn’t score on Tuesday until game was 6:36 old. By then, four other Magic players had scored mostly by aggressively driving to the basket.

    Howard, who had eight turnovers (four three-seconds calls) in Game 1, turned the ball over the first three times he touched the ball and four times in the first quarter. Still refusing to double-team, the Hawks instead dug down defensively on Howard and repeatedly knocked the ball out of his hands.

  • A big turning point in the game came early on when Atlanta power forward Al Horford got in foul trouble.

    Horford, who burned the Magic for 15 points in Game 1, picked up two fouls in the game’s first 2 minutes, 10 seconds and didn’t play the rest of the half. That left the Hawks without one of their primary offensive weapons and statistically the NBA’s best shooter outside of 12 feet.

    Horford’s first field goal of the game didn’t come until early in the fourth period.

    ``What they did wasn’t anything that we didn’t expect; we expected them to be more physical and I thought when they turned the defense up we didn’t respond,’’ Hawks coach Larry Drew said. ``Their pressure caused us to lose our composure right before halftime.’’

    John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.