GameNight Specifics
NBA Coverage: Game Info
Date: Tuesday, April 19
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Amway Center (ORLANDO, FL)
Radio: AM 580 WDBO, AM 1270 WRLZ
Television: FS Florida, NBA TV



Kirk Hinrich

Joe Johnson

Jason Collins

Al Horford

Josh Smith

Jamal Crawford

Marvin Williams
Jameer Nelson

Jason Richardson

Dwight Howard

Brandon Bass

Hedo Turkoglu

J.J. Redick

Ryan Anderson


ORLANDO – Usually immaculately dressed after games in clothes that are both tailored and fashionable, Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard trudged to his postgame interview late Saturday night in a wrinkled shooting shirt.

Howard was so mad and so filled with frustration following the Magic’s 103-93 Game 1 loss to the Atlanta Hawks that he didn’t even want to get dressed following the game.

How, he wondered, could he have the game of his life with 46 points and 19 rebounds and his Magic still lose to the Hawks? How could an Atlanta team that looked mostly lifeless down the stretch go out in the playoffs and shoot 58 percent through three periods and 51 percent for the game? And how was Howard going to handle having to hear trash talk from Hawks’ forwards Josh Smith and Josh Powell, two childhood friends from his days growing up in Atlanta?

``I wasn’t frustrated, I was just mad losing to the Hawks,’’ Howard said upon becoming the first player ever to win three straight Defensive Player of the Year awards on Monday. ``One word that I’m trying to get myself away from is `frustration,’ but I was frustrated that we lost to the Hawks because I have a couple of friends on the Hawks and I don’t want them to have the rights to brag to me about beating us. Then, I have to go home and hear about it every day. I just don’t want to lose to those guys. I put a lot into that game and I’m going to do it the rest of the series so that we can win.’’

Howard hopes to avoid the embarrassment of another loss Tuesday night when the fourth-seeded Magic face the fifth-seeded Hawks at 7:30 p.m. at the Amway Center. Orlando knows from last spring in the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston that going down 0-2 at home would almost be a death knell, so the Magic will undoubtedly pour everything they have into Game 2.

``All of these guys have been in playoff series. I don’t think anybody believes that we’re finished or that the Lakers are finished or San Antonio is finished,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``It’s one game, and you don’t like to lose that first game at home, but you just keep playing. We’ve been in this situation before and I think we’ll be fine.’’

Just don’t call Tuesday night a ``must-win’’ game for the Magic around Van Gundy.

``The only must-win games in my mind are the ones that end your season,’’ Van Gundy said. ``The ones at the end of the regular season that knock you out of the playoffs or end your season. Is it important? Of course, it is. You don’t ever want to go down 0-2, especially not 0-2 at home. But must-win is reserved for the knockout punch in my mind.’’

Howard earned his third straight Defensive Player of the Year award, but not even he could do anything to help slow down the Hawks in Game 1. Joe Johnson (25 points) and Jamal Crawford (23 points) shredded Orlando, as did Josh Smith, Kirk Hinrich and Al Horford, who all reach double digits mostly on jump shots. The Hawks made a jaw-dropping 74 percent of their shots in the second and third quarters combined, sending the Magic into a 14-point hole to start the fourth period.

``We have to make it tougher on those guys when they have the ball and not worry so much about our offense,’’ Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said. ``A lot of people are concerned about us needing to get other people involved, but first and foremost we have to get them under control defensively. We have to get into them more individually on the defensive end of the floor.’’

The Magic ranked fourth in the NBA in points allowed and field goal percentage allowed this season, and their inability to get stops hit them hard in the days after Game 1. Howard had little to say after the loss and was clearly steaming over the Game 1 defeat. Van Gundy said it was only natural for his team to be irate because it usually prides itself on its abilities defensively.

``You put a lot into it and you should take it hard when things don’t go well, especially this time of year. Things didn’t go the way we wanted and we didn’t play as well as we hoped,’’ Van Gundy said. ``There’s no question it was a tough loss and (Howard) took it hard, but players are more resilient than coaches. I don’t worry much about our team in terms of resiliency. We’re not going to have a hangover from that game. But you should take a game like that hard because we didn’t get the job done.’’

Howard said Monday that he is confident that his team will respond to the Game 1 loss and play much better Tuesday night. He is hoping that the combination of the Magic’s urgency combined with the Hawks hopefully missing a few shots will lead to success in the series. Howard said there is no sense of panic around his team.

``Everybody is great. There is no need for us to hold our heads down,’’ he said. ``It’s a series and it’s not like it’s one game and we’re out. We understand that we have to continue to play basketball and continue to believe. It’s one game – the Lakers lost and a lot of teams lost and instead of just giving up we have to keep playing.’’


ORLANDO – For all of the consternation about the Orlando Magic’s overreliance on Dwight Howard disrupting their offense and their inability to shake loose for 3-pointers against an Atlanta Hawks’ team determined to take them away, it was the Magic’s failure to get stops defensively that ultimately led to their Game 1 downfall.

How helpless were the Magic defensively at even slowing down the Hawks in Saturday’s 103-93 loss at the Amway Center? Howard scored a franchise playoff record 31 points in the first half and still the Magic were down by nine points. And even after Jameer Nelson set another franchise mark with 20 third-quarter points, Orlando looked up at the massive scoreboard and saw itself down by 14 points heading into the fourth.

And each Magic charge at cutting into the deficit – they got within four points early in the third quarter and as close as eight points in the fourth period – was turned away by Atlanta’s clutch shooting time and again. Somehow a fifth-seeded Atlanta team that limped into the playoffs having lost 21 of 31 games and six straight before Saturday torched the Magic for 74 percent shooting in the second and third periods, 58 percent through three quarters and 51 percent for the game.

For a Magic team that finished the regular season ranked fourth in the NBA in points allowed and field goal percentage allowed, the inability to get stops was particularly crushing. Not even a career-high-tying 46 points from Howard or 27 more from Nelson could help the Magic dig out of their defensive woes.

``They made a lot of tough shots. That happens, but when a team shoots like (58) percent through three quarters, that’s pretty tough to take,’’ said Howard, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the heavy favorite to win an unprecedented third straight award. ``But it’s just one game and we know what we have to do to get better. The last game is over with.’’

A Magic team that swept the Hawks by a historic margin (a combined 101 points) just last spring finds itself shockingly in a 0-1 hole. It’s similar to the 2009 playoffs when the Magic lost their first game of the playoffs to the Philadelphia 76ers, but rallied to win that series. They ultimately made it all the way to the NBA Finals that year, digging out of deficits against the Sixers and the Celtics in the playoffs.

``We can play better – that’s pretty much the lessons we learned (from 2009),’’ Magic President of Basketball Operations/GM Otis Smith said. ``We’re a better basketball team than we showed and we can play a lot better basketball. The parallels (between 2009 and 2011) is that we’ve done it before and we can do it again because it’s still the best-of-seven. Unless they’ve changed the rules, the series is not over after one game so we’ll keep going.’’

Atlanta getting 25 points from Joe Johnson, 23 from Jamal Crawford and double digits from three other players allowed them to eclipse Howard’s monster night offensively. The Magic’s superstar center made 16 of 23 shots and 14 of 22 free throws, while also grabbing 19 rebounds (six on the offensive end). According to Elias Sports Bureau, Howard became the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to get at least 46 points and 19 rebounds in a playoff game and lose.

``I was just mad because I hate losing … especially to the Hawks,’’ said Howard, an Atlanta native whose childhood friends, Josh Smith and Josh Powell, play for the Hawks.

What concerned the Magic most coming out of Saturday’s game was their inability to slow down Atlanta’s perimeter players. Johnson (nine of 16), Crawford (seven of 14), Smith (six of 12) and Kirk Hinrich (six of 10) all made at least 50 percent of their shots, while power forward Al Horford (seven of 14) made the Magic pay with his mid-range shots.

The Magic’s mantra defensively for years has been to keep teams out of the paint, and they did that for the most part against the Hawks, giving up just eight layups. But it’s the ability to bother Atlanta’s shooters on clear-out, one-on-one plays that is critical to changing the outcome in Tuesday’s Game 2.

``We have to be a lot better defensively, no matter what we do offensively. If we have to score 105 or 106 points every night to win then we’re going to be in trouble,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``The Hawks have played us very well all year and they have some matchups that they really like and have been able to exploit. We’ve got to find a way to slow them down. They really hurt us on perimeter jump shots. Our focus is generally on protecting the paint, but they’re really not looking to get to the paint a whole lot.’’