The Atlanta Hawks were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 89-87 in overtime. With 8.7 seconds left in overtime and the score at 89-87 in favor of the Hawks, the Magic needed a two-point shot to tie the game and a three-pointer to win it. Orlando chose to try for the latter. Jason Richardson missed a game-winning three-point attempt via a screen-and-curl on a side out-of-bounds play. Shortly thereafter, Ryan Anderson got the offensive rebound and passed it to Jameer Nelson, who then decided to shoot a three-pointer of his own. But Nelson missed the shot and Atlanta was able to escape with a victory. The Hawks were led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Josh Smith led the way for Atlanta with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-22 shooting from the field, 19 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks. Marvin Williams had 13 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Joe Johnson chipped in with 14 points and five assists, while Jeff Teague finished with 13 points and three steals. The Magic were also led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard led the way for Orlando with 18 points and 18 rebounds. Ryan Anderson amassed 21 points and nine rebounds. Jason Richardson had 14 points, five rebounds, and two blocks, while Jameer Nelson contributed with 15 points, five assists, and three rebounds. Hedo Turkoglu put up 10 points and eight rebounds. It should be noted that the Hawks played without Al Horford, as he recovers from a torn pectoral muscle.
With 2:09 left in the fourth quarter, Atlanta was up by the score of 78-70 and had possession of the ball. On the previous four possessions, Smith got the basketball on the right block and had his way with Anderson, making a layup, dunk, missing a hook shot, and drawing a foul going to the basket. Even though Smith only produced five points on those four possessions, it’s clear that the Hawks were able to get whatever they wanted by simply posting up Smith on the right block against Anderson and allowing him to go to work.
Which is why it’s puzzling that for the remainder of the period, Atlanta proceeded to put up four contested shots. Why go away from what was working?
Smith’s shot selection, in particular, was extra-puzzling on one possession, as he settled for a long two. Why?
In any case, the Magic took advantage of the situation. With 1:45 left in regulation, Orlando was still looking at a deficit of eight points. But a layup by Turkoglu, two layups by Nelson, and the Magic were suddenly down by two points with the score at 78-76 with 12.2 seconds left.
To compound the calamity of errors for the Hawks, head coach Larry Drew decided to insert Willie Green and Tracy McGrady into the game alongside Johnson, Smith, and Williams. Even though that increased the length on the floor for Atlanta, it took away from their size in the middle.
Orlando must have recognized that because Nelson attacked the rim off the dribble deliberately and even though he missed the layup attempt, Howard was there to dunk the ball on the offensive rebound.
That lineup error, alongside questionable decision-making on offense down the stretch as the fourth quarter winded down, cost Atlanta a chance to put the game away. This game should have been over for the Hawks.
Instead, the Magic tied things up at 78 apiece and headed into overtime with a chance to steal a win.
The overtime session between Atlanta and Orlando was even more peculiar than what occurred during the latter stages of the fourth quarter.
After Turkoglu hit a three-point shot to give the Magic a lead with the score at 81-78, he proceeded to turn into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the next three possessions.
After Smith missed a three-pointer in the right corner, Nelson got the rebound and dribbled up the court, eventually passing the basketball to Turkoglu at at the three-point line. Turkoglu had a wide-open look at a three-pointer at the top of the key, but he decided to dribble the ball as Smith as running him off the three-point line. Turkoglu, then, makes a terrible pass as he drives to the basket and Teague picks it off. What made matters worse is that on the ensuing possession, Williams tied the game with a three-point shot. Instead of Orlando having a chance to extend their lead, the game is tied at 81 apiece.
On the next possession, Turkoglu ran a 3/5 pick-and-roll with Howard and redeems himself by making a layup off the dribble. After Teague is able to make a midrange jumper, Turkoglu makes another poor decision with the basketball that cost the Magic a possession. Turkoglu ran another 3/5 pick-and-roll with Howard, but he chose not to use the screen this time. Instead, Turkoglu dribbled the ball near the baseline but got stuck as Smith and Williams trapped him. Turkoglu tried to pass the basketball but he traveled before he got a chance to try. In turn, Johnson was able to make a floater in the lane to give the Hawks a two-point lead.
After both teams traded shots and free-throws, the score was at 89-87 with Atlanta ahead. With 8.7 seconds left in overtime, Orlando had chance to either tie the game or go for the win. The Magic tried to go for the win but lost, as Richardson and Nelson each missed three-pointers.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.