Denton's Dish: Magic vs. Hawks (2/10/12)



By John Denton
February 10, 2012


ORLANDO -- In a week where the Orlando Magic have already played three sure-fire playoff teams, all they have to show for it is a win against the Miami Heat and two head-scratching, heartbreaking overtime losses.

In the minutes after the Magic’s 89-87 OT loss to the Atlanta Hawks – a game that produced a finish eerily similar to Monday’s overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers – Orlando was left to wonder about what could have been had they handled the ball better and gotten a few more defensive stops.

``It’s definitely tough because we had our opportunities,’’ said Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, who had six fourth-quarter points, but missed a final 3-pointer at the buzzer that could have won the game. ``We had some opportunities, but just needed to execute a little better. Obviously, if we’d have made some shots it would have been different. But we played hard and stuck together. We came back and got it to overtime.’’

The Magic used a pick-and-roll play with Nelson and Dwight Howard at the end of regulation to get the game tied with 1.3 seconds on a Howard follow-up dunk. But down two with 10 seconds left in overtime, the Magic instead settled for a wayward Jason Richardson 3-pointer – from the same spot he missed a potential tying shot on Monday in overtime. Ryan Anderson (21 points) got the last of his six offensive boards, but Nelson couldn’t connect on a contested three at the horn.

``(Richardson’s shot) was the first option and there was 10 seconds. There are other options in the play, but if he’s open we’re not going to pass it up,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``He was open and got a great look at it. It was similar (to the play at the end of Monday’s game). He was shooting the ball well from the three. He got a good look at it.’’

Richardson, who scored 14 points, also missed a free throw with 11 seconds left in OT that could have tied the game at 88-all.

The game was the first meeting between the Magic (16-11) and the Hawks (18-9) since last spring when Atlanta beat Orlando 4-2 in the first round of the playoffs. The game lacked much of that playoff-like intensity most of the night before the Magic rallied from eight points down in the final 90 seconds to force overtime. But two turnovers and six missed shots in nine tries in overtime undid the Magic’s effort.

``I don’t think our energy was very good at all. We picked it up in the fourth, but we just didn’t play very well,’’ Van Gundy said. ``But we stuck in there and hung in the game and had chances. The big thing is the 17 turnovers and some big ones in the overtime. We had six more turnovers than the other team. You just take away your chances to win because you’re not solid with the ball. That’s disappointing.’’

The Magic left right after the game bound for Milwaukee where they will face the Bucks for the first time this season. It will be the Magic’s ninth back-to-back set of games of the young season. They were 9-7 in the first eight back-to-backs.

Here is a closer look at some of the key moments from Friday night’s game at the Amway Center:


    MAGICAL MOMENTS

  • Howard had 18 points and 18 rebounds, adding to both categories with his clutch rebound and dunk in the final second of regulation to tie the game at 78-all.

    Largely because of his free throw troubles, the Magic did not go to Howard down the stretch. He had just three shot attempts in the fourth quarter and overtime, and one of those tries came on an offensive rebound.

    Howard, who had 33 points against the Clippers on Monday and 25 points and 24 rebounds on Wednesday versus the Heat, was perturbed that the Magic couldn’t get over the hump in their two overtime losses this week.

    ``It’s tough, but our effort was great and we stuck with it,’’ Howard said. ``We didn’t let them making a run stop us from playing and we got back in the game. But we just didn’t finish.’’

    MAGIC MYSTERY

  • Howard picked up his eighth technical foul of the season in the third quarter when he argued an offensive foul call. Howard certainly had a case for the argument when Zaza Pachulia clearly flopped to draw the whistle. But crew chief Ed Malloy, who didn’t even make the call, didn’t like Howard’s choice of words.

    ``You saw it, you write about it,’’ Howard said when asked what happened on the play. ``The refs didn’t see it that way.’’

    Seconds later, Howard converted a tough layup in traffic and grabbed the ball to protest a foul not being called on that play. When a whistle blew some had to wonder if Howard was about to pick up a second technical foul that would have resulted in an ejection. However, the stoppage in play was because of an Atlanta timeout. In the Magic’s huddle, Van Gundy attempted to calm Howard with words of encouragement.

    Howard moved into a tie for the most technical fouls in the NBA with Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins. Because of the NBA lockout reducing the schedule to 66 games, players are now allowed only 13 technical fouls before they are suspended for a game.

  • The Magic appeared set to take a 39-38 lead into halftime, but Marvin Williams changed that after Orlando offered up little defensive resistance in the final 2.6 seconds.

    Williams buried a 3-pointer from just inside the halfcourt stripe as the horn sounded, giving the Hawks momentum and a 41-39 lead at the break.

  • Hedo Turkolgu had a layup to start Orlando’s run from eight points down in the final 90 seconds of regulation and he scored the Magic’s first two baskets of the overtime.

    But he also turned the ball over twice – once on a bad pass across the floor and another time on a travelling call. Turkoglu finished the game with six of Orlando’s 17 turnovers.

    In the past four games, Turkoglu has made just seven of 32 shots and is averaging only 5.5 points per game.

    MAGIC MOVES

  • The Magic started the game poorly, giving up two layups, two uncontested jump shots and a Josh Smith to fall behind 13-6. Van Gundy wasted no time in trying to awaken the Magic, calling a timeout 4:45 into the first quarter.

    The Magic ultimately fell behind 16-7 before scoring 10 straight points to take the lead.

  • Van Gundy gave plenty of credit to Atlanta’s defense for shutting down the Magic’s 3-point shooting in the playoffs last spring. The Hawks’ size on the wings with Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams and Kirk Hinrich played a major role in Orlando’s top outside shooters – Ryan Anderson, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson – combining to make just 28 of 116 3-pointers (24.1 percent) in the six-game playoff series last spring.

    ``Teams with size are the ones that have given us the most problems. They make shooting the ball and moving the ball difficult for us,’’ Van Gundy said. ``Atlanta’s defense was very good (last spring in the playoffs). There were a lot of shots that we should have knocked down, but overall their defense outstanding and that was the biggest factor in us struggling to shoot the ball.’’

  • Anderson said after the game that the Magic’s issues with turnovers are keeping them from fully reaching their potential as a team. On Friday, the 17 giveaways result in 20 points for the Hawks.

    ``It’s something that we have to work on,’’ Anderson said. ``We just have to have better control of the ball, make better passes and make better decisions. That’s the game of basketball and there’s always going to be mistakes, but it’s how you counter and we did a good job coming back. I just wish that (3-point shot from Richardson) would have dropped.’’

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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