The Atlanta Hawks were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 84-81, winning the series 4-2 and exacting revenge from last year’s sweep in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. For the Magic, this is the first time they’ve lost in the first round of the playoffs during head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s tenure with the franchise. The last time Orlando got bounced this early was in 2007. After trailing by as many as 11 points in the game, the Magic made a furious charge in the fourth quarter and were able to cut the deficit to 82-81 with 34.3 seconds left in regulation after a layup by Jameer Nelson. However, being out-rebounded was the prime culprit for the loss and it was exemplified on the ensuing possession. Marvin Williams missed a three-pointer that would have iced the game for the Hawks but he missed the shot, and Joe Johnson was able to get the offensive rebound. Thus forcing Orlando to foul. Jamal Crawford made the two free-throws, which meant the Magic need a game-tying three-pointer to extend their season. J.J. Redick got a clean look thanks in large part to Van Gundy’s play design coming out of the timeout. But Redick missed. However, Al Horford stepped out of bounds after he rebounded the basketball, which meant Orlando had one more chance to tie. Yet Josh Smith was able to block Jason Richardson‘s three-point attempt and just like that, the Magic’s season was over. Atlanta was led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Johnson finished with 23 points (on 10-of-25 shooting from the field), 10 rebounds, and four assists. Crawford contributed with 19 points and two steals. Horford chipped in with 10 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists, while Kirk Hinrich had 11 points and Williams had 10 points. Dwight Howard finished an exemplary series by tallying 25 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks but it wasn’t enough to save Orlando from elimination. The lack of consistent production from the Magic’s supporting cast was largely to blame for the series loss, undermining Howard’s brilliance.
Let the speculation surrounding Howard’s future with the franchise begin.