Second Look: Orlando Magic 88, Atlanta Hawks 82 | Magic Basketball

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Apr 20

Second Look: Orlando Magic 88, Atlanta Hawks 82

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic may have saved their season Tuesday night. And to do it, they relied on a tried-and-true formula: an improved defense, a critical hustle play by Jameer Nelson and a 48-minute dose of Dwight Howard. Riding another Herculean performance by their all-star center, the Magic outlasted the Atlanta Hawks 88-82 in an intense, emotional Game 2 to even their first-round series at one game apiece. Those teammates followed his lead. […] Nelson, his co-captain, played almost 38 minutes even though he missed part of the Magic’s morning shootaround due to a migraine headache. The diminutive point guard probably turned in the most important play of the game — and most important play of the Magic’s season — late in the fourth quarter. The Hawks had gone on a 12-2 run to cut the Magic’s lead to 78-76 with 2:14 remaining in regulation. On the ensuing possession, Atlanta’s Zaza Pachulia knocked the ball out of Howard’s hands and toward the sideline. Nelson sprinted toward the ball, dived onto the parquet floor and collected it before Kirk Hinrich could. Nelson passed it to Howard, who sent it to Ryan Anderson, who tossed it to Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu drove to the basket, banked it off the glass and the ball rolled around the rim gingerly before it fell through the hoop.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “All I know is that Stan Van Gundy has had to robb Peter to pay Paul as he tries to piece together game plans with baling wire and duct tape. His slim pick’ns aren’t just slim; they’re microscopic. I don’t want to say that Van Gundy was searching for help, but I swear he had dogs and a flashlight at his disposal. You couldn’t blame him if he tried to sign Nick Anderson out of the stands, and Nick’s 43. What’s the whole key for the Magic the rest of the way? Rest. They need to thank the NBA schedule-makers who place two, sometimes three, days between games. Game 2 is Friday night in Atlanta. The Magic are taking today off and will hardly break a sweat on Thursday. Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson could use a week in The Bahamas and intravenous fluids. Because with no bench, Van Gundy needs his starters to put their feet up as much as possible. After two games, Hawks are outscoring the Magic’s reserves, 64-26. Jamal Crawford has 48 himself.”
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Do you know how lucky you are, Magic fans? It’s rare when you actually get to watch a high school kid grow into a legend right before their eyes. And, of course, this is why Orlando fans anguish: Because they know how important these playoffs are to Dwight’s future in Orlando. It certainly didn’t help ease their worried minds a few days ago when one ESPN “insider” speculated that Howard will be traded by the Magic this summer. Forget the speculation about Dwight’s future and savor the coronation of Dwight’s greatness. Van Gundy said something very wise a couple of months ago when he was talking about all the hullabaloo surrounding Carmelo Anthony’s departure from Denver and the resulting speculation about whether Dwight would stay in Orlando. Van Gundy’s message – and I’m paraphrasing – was essentially this: Why do American sports fans and media spend so much time and effort worrying about what might happen down the road rather than enjoying what’s right in front of them now? And what is right in front of Magic fans at this juncture in time is a once-in-a-lifetime player. Sometimes I wonder if Howard is appreciated enough, not only locally but nationally. Do we realize what we are watching? Do we understand that he is not only the greatest Magic player of all-time, but one of the greatest NBA players of all-time? We have another Russell and Chamberlain in our midst.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “In a game that was never easy – certainly not when Orlando trailed by 10 points in the second quarter nor when Atlanta got within two points with 2 minutes to play – the Magic were finally able to exhale Tuesday night with a 1-1 split in this best-of-seven playoff series. Orlando needed another monstrous, 48-minute game from Dwight Howard, a clutch layup from Hedo Turkoglu and a dagger of a 3-pointer from Jason Richardson to hold off Atlanta 88-82 Tuesday at the Amway Center to pull even in this remarkably even first-round playoff series. J.J. Redick dived on the floor early in the game to corral a loose ball and Jameer Nelson did the same late in the fourth quarter – both dives resulting in key Magic baskets and were emblematic of the effort that the Magic poured into what many considered a must-win.”
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Indeed, the way Drew doled out his frontcourt minutes will come into question here. Leaving two end-of-the-bench types alone to fend with the league’s best center is one thing, but benching one’s own best player for almost the entire first half is another. Al Horford picked up his second personal foul just 2:10 into the game, which prompted Drew to pull Horford for the rest of the half. The trickle-down effect it had on Atlanta’s rotation left it without a reliable offensive big man. On a night when Johnson (6-of-15, 14 points), Marvin Williams (1-of-6, 4 points) and Kirk Hinrich (4-of-12, 9 points) struggled to produce from the wings, Atlanta needed another scorer. The fact that the Hawks whittled a 14-point Magic lead to 4 with less than two minutes to play only further underscores the seriousness of Drew’s gaffe. I believe Horford represents an improvement over Powell and Armstrong to such a degree that he would have been worth at least 6 points, the Magic’s final victory margin, had he played over those two for at least another 8 first-half minutes. He at least commands defensive attention; Howard rightly ignored Armstrong and Powell whenever the Hawks had possession. Indeed, Drew helped turn Howard, the league’s top defender, loose defensively as a helper.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Dwight Howard had another dominant performance, and this time more of his teammates chipped in. In the end, the Hawks couldn’t hold down Orlando’s shooters as Howard had his way with their centers. The Magic pulled away late for an 88-82 victory in Game 2 of the first-round Eastern Conference playoffs series. Orlando’s Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson all made timely 3-pointers in the second half. Those plays, plus Howard’s 33 points, were enough for the Magic to tie the series 1-1 as it moves to Philips Arena for Game 3 on Friday.”
  • Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “They won game one and threw a scare into Orlando in game two. Forget the odds. Forget the mood swings of the regular season. Forget the part of you that says, ‘I don’t like this team. I don’t trust this team. They’re going nowhere.’ The Hawks didn’t guarantee themselves a playoff series upset with their performances in  Orlando. But they certainly sent a message in game two that game one wasn’t a fluke. After winning the series opener Saturday, they led the heavily favored and desperate Magic by as much as 10 points in the second quarter, fizzled, fell behind by 14 in the fourth, looked dead and then showed the fight and resiliency that too often was missing this season to pull to within two at 78-76 with two minutes left. In the end, they ran out of gasps and spasms, losing 88-82 Tuesday night. But Orlando walked off their home court with their hearts nearly jumping out of their chest — and this time Jameer Nelson didn’t make a stop to make a crack about catching Chicago in the second round.”
  • Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: “As impressive and enjoyable as the Game 1 victory was, two concerns lingered: the probably unsustainable percentage of jump shots the Hawks made (unofficially, I have the Hawks 7-23 from 16-23 feet and, thus, 40.7 eFG% outside of 16 feet once three-pointers are accounted for) and Larry Drew’s tactical personnel decisions. In Game 2, the Hawks shot much worse and had a chance to win despite Larry Drew. It was a terribly wasted opportunity but, if Drew can either commit to playing his best players until they are disqualified or not play his worst players until absolutely necessary, the Hawks, in possession of home court advantage, can still conceivably win this series. Which is rather amazing considering they were outscored over the course of the 82 game season and their head coach either didn’t try his hardest or proved himself obscenely incompetent in one half of their playoff games.”
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