Denton: Magic-Hawks Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
March 30, 2011


  • Nelson returned after missing Monday’s game with a sprained knee and looked dazzling off the dribble most of the night. He made nine of 17 shots, including a stretched-out layup under two defenders to tie the game at 82-all with 1:11 to play.

    Nelson had to play 37 minutes because of Gilbert Arenas’ sore left knee and Chris Duhon’s absence because of a badly sprained right thumb.

    On the potential game-tying shot with 38 seconds to play, Nelson rubbed off a pick to get past small forward Marvin Williams and floated a shot over Collins that hit off the back iron. Nelson said if he had the play to do over, he would have executed it differently.

    ``I had Collins back on his heels and my thought process was to just take what the defense gave me and that was it,’’ Nelson said. ``But with Marvin Williams on me, I shouldn’t have taken the pick-and-roll and just isolated (Williams). Against a 6-8 or 6-9 guy like that I should have used my advantage off the dribble.’’

  • Hedo Turkoglu, who broke out of a midseason slump and has been playing his best basketball of the season of late, got off to a stellar start Wednesday night.

    Turkoglu was in attack mode off pick-and-roll plays, making four of five shots for eight first-quarter points. And even when Turkoglu wasn’t shooting the ball, he still got into the lane for four rebounds, three assists and a steal in the opening period.

    Turkoglu finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals.


  • With no true backup center on the roster, Howard has done an excellent job of late of staying out of foul trouble even as he was logging major minutes in most games. But Wednesday’s game was a struggle almost from the start when it came to Howard’s inability to avoid foul trouble.

    Howard picked up his first foul on the Magic’s first possession of the game – 34 seconds in – as he was fighting Jason Collins for rebounding position. His second foul came three minutes later on a hard drive to the basket when Collins flopped and drew a whistle from veteran ref Bennett Salvatore.

    The early foul trouble seemed to sap Howard of his ability to be aggressive on the night. The 7-foot Collins gave Howard fits with his strength and length and made life tough for him in the post.

    ``That’s the best defense I’ve seen all year on Dwight,’’ Van Gundy said. ``(Collins) did a great job. Against Collins, (Howard) didn’t get a lot of good shots. He’s big and physical and he doesn’t give up anything easy. Dwight had trouble getting good, on-balanced shots.’’

    The two early fouls kept Howard on the bench for the final seven minutes of the first quarter, and he did play 10 minutes of the second quarter before a third foul came. Howard had to step over and stop the penetration of Josh Smith and was hit with his third foul just before the halftime intermission.

    The foul trouble required the Magic to play power forward Earl Clark six minutes in the first half, while seldom-used veteran Malik Allen was on the floor for the final 90 seconds of the second quarter.

  • NBA Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins was allegedly attacked by a fan after the Hawks-Magic game Wednesday night. Wilkins, who played 27 games with the Magic in 1998-99 following an illustrious career with the Hawks, serves as Atlanta’s Vice President and also a television.

    According to Hawks spokesman Arthur Triche, the fan was taken into custody and Wilkins was not injured during the brief melee.

  • This could bear watching: Arenas said his surgically repaired left knee was bothering him before Wednesday’s game and had it iced down for 20 minutes after the game. He took just two shots in 20 minutes of action – both 3-pointers – and admitted after the game that he’s basically scared to jump off his left knee now because of the pain and instability in the joint.

    ``I can only do so much on the knee in a day. If I try to do too much and go through a two-hour shootaround my knee is going to be sore before the game,’’ said Arenas, who entered the night in a three of 23 shooting funk over the last two games. ``I’m three years from first injuring my knee and they said I’d be limited and not be able to work out on my knee six hours a day. It’s tough right now telling coach that I can only practice 1 ½ hours a day.’’

    Because the Magic’s primary players are having to log so much playing time because of injuries, Arenas dubbed Orlando as a team that’s ``running on fumes right now.’’


  • A group of lime green-clad Hawks fans – dubbed ``Club Kryptonite’’ in reference to Howard’s ``Superman’’ nickname – kept a running count Wednesday night each time that Howard went to the free throw line. In an effort to distract Howard, the group quickly counted aloud for each free throw and a couple of times got as high as 14 before the Magic center released the shot.

    The group did the same thing when the Magic were last in Atlanta on Dec. 20. Five days later, in a nationally televised game against the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, veteran official Bob Delaney whistled Howard for a violation for not getting off his free throw attempt in the allotted 10 seconds.

  • Much has been made this season of how Howard, who takes a beating in the low post on a nightly basis, hasn’t been flagrantly fouled all season. He had taken a NBA-most 840 free throws heading into Wednesday’s game, but not once all season has a player been whistled for a flagrant foul while wrapping up the superstar center.

    The Hawks tested that strategy several times, doing what they could to frustrate Howard. Collins hit Howard across both shoulders once in the second quarter to prevent a dunk attempt. And another time in the third quarter, Collins intentionally grabbed around the waist and pulled him away from the rim.

    ``You can’t let them just throw him out of there!’’ Van Gundy screamed to the officials to no avail.

  • Ryan Anderson (13 points and three 3-pointers) and Richardson (one of seven shooting, three points) vowed that there would be little carry-over from Wednesday night to the playoffs in 2 ½ weeks against the Hawks. Richardson said that once the Magic get healthy and get some rest, they will be amply prepared for the Hawks come playoff time.

    ``This game might give them some confidence, but we know that we didn’t play well and the regular season really doesn’t matter when it comes to the playoffs,’’ Richardson said. ``Now is usually a time when you want to rest your starters and main guys but we don’t have that luxury because of the injuries. We’ve got a lot of guys banged up right now. Dwight, Turk, me and some other guys we’ve been playing 40 minutes pretty much every night and it’s tough. But we’ll be ready come playoff time.’’


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