Denton: Magic-Hawks Game 5 Postgame Analysis
By John Denton
April 26, 2011
ORLANDO – On a night when even the team’s mascot, Stuff, banked in a halfcourt shot during a timeout skit early in the game, the Orlando Magic finally found their shooting strokes from afar and breathed some life back into this best-of-seven series.
The Magic battered Atlanta early and often by raining in 3-pointers from all corners of the Amway Center to win 101-76 going away in send-a-message style to the embarassed Hawks. Orlando staved off elimination, pulled within 3-2 in the series and set the stage for what could be an epic Game 6 in Atlanta on Thursday night.
``I kept telling everybody just because we were up by 16, then 20 and 25 to not let up. I wanted to beat them by 50,’’ said Magic guard Quentin Richardson, who played a major role in holding Joe Johnson to five points on two of 12 shooting. ``This is not a forgiving league. Nobody out there would have felt bad if we would have gotten beat tonight. So we’re not going to care that they got blasted tonight. … It was win or go home so we weren’t going to leave anything to chance.’’
On a night when superstar center Dwight Howard had just one field goal, the Magic played with such energy and desperation that they led by as many as 32 points at one point in the fourth quarter. Instead, the Magic got contributions from several players who have struggled in the series so far: Jason Richardson had 17 points and three 3-pointers, J.J. Redick scored 11 of his 14 points during a first-quarter barrage, while Ryan Anderson chipped in 11 points and another three 3-pointers.
A Magic team that shot just 40 percent from the floor and 21 percent from 3-point range in the first four games of the series finally erupted for 11 3-pointers and shot 41 percent. The Magic led by 13 points after one period, by 23 points at halftime and 26 through three quarters. Similarly, the noise level inside the Amway Center seemed to rise to deafening levels as the one-sided night progressed.
``The pressure is on them now to close us out in Atlanta,’’ Anderson said. ``We have a ton of momentum right now, but we know they’ll be revved up. But they’ll be nervous for us, too.’’
One of the loudest ovations of the night came when Public Address announcer Paul Porter announced that tickets for Game 7 would go on sale Wednesday. Nothing would delight the Magic more than winning in Atlanta and setting up a winner-take-all game at the Amway Center on Saturday night.
Only eight teams in history have come back to win after being down 3-1 in a series, most recently the Phoenix Suns against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2006. Of the eight times that teams have rallied back to win, six times it’s been done by the higher-seeded team. The fourth-seeded Magic hope that they’ve finally found the rhythm to beat the fifth-seeded Hawks, but one Hawk player doubted it would happen.
``We are good. We’re still in the driver’s seat. This is just one game,’’ said Jamal Crawford, Atlanta’s leading scorer in the series who had just eight points on Tuesday. ``We’ll come back and get ready for Game 6. We have to come out and act like we are in desperation (mode). You can’t get comfortable. They were the aggressors (on Tuesday), but we have to be the aggressors in Game 6.’’
Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Tuesday’s Game 5 at the Amway Center: