Recap: Orlando Magic 112, Atlanta Hawks 98 | Magic Basketball

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May 07

Recap: Orlando Magic 112, Atlanta Hawks 98

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

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In a competitive game that went back and forth until the fourth quarter, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Atlanta Hawks by the score of 112-98 to take a 2-0 series lead in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. Game 2 was a battle of stars, as the best players for each team stepped up. The four All-Stars led the way for the Magic, as Vince Carter had 24 points, Dwight Howard had 29 points on nine shots and 17 rebounds, and Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson each had 20 points and six assists. Two words can best describe the performances of Carter, Howard, Lewis, and Nelson — efficient and excellent. Al Horford led the way for the Hawks with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks.

Game 2 was a tale of two halves for Orlando.

In the first half, Atlanta played with a sense of urgency you’d expect from a team coming off a 43-point loss. The Hawks improved their execution, as well. Atlanta did a great job offensively of dribble penetrating, moving the basketball from side-to-side, and working the ball inside-out. The Hawks didn’t rely too much on the isolation sets that they’re so used to settling for when things aren’t going right for them. What aided Atlanta, too, was the fact that Howard got saddled with foul trouble early in the second quarter. As a result, the Hawks were very aggressive attacking the rim against back-up center Marcin Gortat and exploiting him at every turn. Especially Horford, who could do no wrong when matched up against Gortat.

Atlanta adjusted defensively, also. Instead of paying too much attention to Howard like they did in Game 1, the Hawks made a better effort of closing out the shooters for the Magic and running them off the three-point line whenever possible. The strategy worked. Sort of. Because Atlanta decided to concentrate on slowing down Orlando’s offense on the perimeter, things opened up for Howard in the post. In the first quarter, Howard went bonkers, as he scored 18 points on an array of righty hooks, layups, and alley-oop dunks. When Howard was fouled, as he was nine times in the period, he was able to go to the line and make most of his free-throws (a trend that would carry on the rest of the night).

Despite Howard’s impressive display on offense, though, the Magic were down eight points at halftime due to poor execution on both ends of the floor during the second quarter.

That changed quickly, however, as Orlando was able to jump out and retake the lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter with a 9-0 run before both teams engaged in the NBA’s equivalent of trench warfare. From the nine-minute mark until the end of the period, neither the Magic nor the Hawks held a lead greater than four points. But in the process, Atlanta was quickly falling back into the habit of playing one-on-one basketball and going away from what worked for them offensively in the first half.

As such, the Hawk’s offense turned stagnant — seem familiar? — in the fourth quarter and the Magic were able to turn a close game into a blowout before cruising to an easy victory by running the 2/5 pick and roll with Carter and Howard on almost every possession. Because Howard was having his way on the low block throughout the evening no matter who was defending him, Atlanta was forced to compensate and keep an extra eye on him as he was rolling to the basket. And because the Hawks almost always fought over the screen since they were concentrating on taking away the three-point shot the entire game, that opened things up for Carter offensively and he was able to make the Hawks pay by being an efficient playmaker.

That play was the difference in the fourth quarter and that play was the difference in Game 2.

Oh, and Carter’s one-handed fadeaway floater in the lane? Ridiculous.

8 comments
Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@KSB

Remarkable numbers, indeed.

@Raptor

Yeah, that swagger you're talking about was definitely evident in the second half. It looked like Carter had an extra spring in his step.

@jax502

That's what makes the Magic so dangerous. They're always capable of going on a run at any given point in a game. The Hawks deserve credit because they really fought tooth and nail. However, Atlanta lost their bearings when Orlando went to another gear in the fourth quarter.

@Blacktigra

Yeah, that's the type of basketball the Magic need from Carter.

@Jayson

Great observation. That's all Carter needs to do really -- pick his spots. There's so much talent on the roster that Carter doesn't need to shoulder the load all the time. Carter just needs to be aggressive (and efficient!) when necessary and know when to take over, as he did yesterday.

Jayson
Jayson

What I love about Vince is his sense of the game. It seems like every time they play, he always defers to the hot guy. In the first half, D12 and Rashard and Jameer were killing it, so he let them do their thing. But in the second half, we needed him to go get going. He responded with 20 and looked unstoppable. It reminded me of that Lakers game from earlier in the season when we couldn't get anything going in the first half and he took over (I think he ended up with like 16 in the half; 10 for 10 at the line).

That's how you know the guy is in the zone. He reads the game, knows when to turn it up a notch (or six), and executes. We don't need him to put up 28 shots and score 35 a game. We need him to take the scoring load when we get stagnant on offense. And that's exactly what he does.

Blacktigra
Blacktigra

Whenever Vince is aggressive his jumpers also start to fall. And when he isn't attacking....well it's brick after brick. If he keeps playing like he did last night I really like our chances.

jax502
jax502

I loved that 4th quarter surge. It just started raining 3s and before you know it, they were unreachable...that happened only in a few minutes. That just shows you how dangerous the Magic team is. Very proud to be a fan!

Raptor
Raptor

Vince was just pacing himself UNTIL he pushed the "ON" button. Then he was in the zone and, I must repeat this so often - he had the swagger that he's dominating. That's the key for him.

KSB
KSB

Hey Eddy. I have no where near the ability to analyze (and not to blow smoke) numbers and what not as you, but here are a few numbers I find to be pretty remarkable, to say the least:

During their twelve game win streak: An average win by about 16 points per
Playoffs: 15.67
Past 29 games: 13.55 (17 of those teams are/were playoff teams - 12.3 is the average margin of victory for the '72 Lakers for their complete season)
Double digit wins in the past 29 games: 18

However, road versus playoff teams in 2010 (now and former for this year): 3.7

All withstanding, some pretty remarkable numbers they have put up. I hope it continues...

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Jayson

Yeah, Carter played very, very, very well. But what impressed me the most was the fact that all four All-Stars performed at their very best. It's very rare to find all of them playing good basketball at the same time but when they do, it's pretty to watch. Now the Magic just need to carry that focus and intensity on the road. The Hawks are a different team at home.

Jayson
Jayson

I just want to give VC some love. I remember a while ago when people were doubting that he could come in and do what Turk used to do. But the guy is an absolute stud, and he came through in a big way tonight (I mean... did you see that one-handed floater in the 4th? Who in the league can hit that shot?) He still has some work in front of him, but he has proven that he is an upgrade from Turk. Period.

Overall, this was the second best game I've seen us play this season. The best... 48 hours ago. We are peaking at the right time. We're not just beating teams. We're destroying teams. The Hawks actually played the best game they could tonight. But in the fourth (the champions' quarter) the better team showed their might. We are playing far and away the best basketball of anyone in the playoffs. Now its about closing out the Hawks and bringing this same intensity and execution to the next round. Because if we keep playing this way, no one can stop us.