Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 146

Apr 26

Will this Gilbert Arenas show up in Game 5?

Apr 26

Sneak Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic, Game 5

AP Photo/John Bazemore

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “At some point Jamal Crawford has to cool off, right? The Atlanta Hawks shooting guard has torched the Orlando Magic in the first four games of this playoff series, averaging 24 points and shooting 56.5 percent from three-point range. In a series defined by ugly offense and hard-nosed defense, Crawford’s finesse and efficiency shooting the basketball have stood out. And the frustrating part for the Magic is they’re keeping a defender nearby and in his face — he’s just connecting on the jumpers, anyway. […] Crawford’s remarkable consistency — he’s scored 25, 23, 25 and 23 points in the four games — has carried the Hawks. The Magic assumed the law of averages might help limit Crawford, but that hasn’t worked. His shooting percentage (47.1 in the playoffs compared to 42.1 in the regular season), three-point percentage (56.5 to 34.1) and points per game (24 to 14.2) are far above his usual performance. He’s not going to just start missing on his own, as the Magic may have hoped. So on Monday at practice, the Magic focused on stopping Crawford (and Joe Johnson, who’s averaging 20 points per game this series).”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The doors to Amway Center’s practice court opened around 3:45 Monday afternoon, and visitors looking to interview coach Stan Van Gundy witnessed something that’s been absent this postseason. Orlando Magic players made shots. Lots of them. Ryan Anderson, Chris Duhon, J.J. Redick and, later, Brandon Bass attempted shot after shot after shot — and made most of them. Staccato bursts of the sport’s prettiest sound filled the air. Basketballs fell through hoops and touched only the nets. Swish! Swish! Swish! The Magic need to duplicate that success when they host the Atlanta Hawks tonight in Game 5 of their playoff series. Trailing three games to one, Orlando must win to avoid elimination. […] In Sunday’s Game 4 loss, the Magic went 2-for-23 from 3-point range. Van Gundy and his assistant coaches analyzed those attempts, and they found that if they excluded tries that came at the end of a quarter or just as the shotclock expired or were simply bad shots, the Magic went 2-for-15 from beyond the arc. Of those 15, eight were wide-open. The Magic made just one of those eight wide-open attempts.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “About seven months ago, the Magic were star tenants in the spectacularly giddy grand opening of Amway Center. They certainly don’t want their season to close at their hoops palace Tuesday night with a final, farewell performance. Trailing the Atlanta Hawks three games to one in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series, the Magic look to avoid curtain-closing elimination. This could either be the start of an historic run for the Magic or the stunning end to a disappointing season, with repercussions possibly resonating through the summer. The futures of coach Stan Van Gundy, General Manager Otis Smith and superstar Dwight Howard could be affected. An early ouster obviously wouldn’t sit well with Howard, a five-time all star who can leave the Magic after next season as a free agent. He has had to carry the club this postseason, desperate for help from his lackluster supporting cast. Smith’s reputation as a front-office executive who built a contender has taken a hit. His two blockbuster trades in mid-December dramatically changed the team, but not necessarily for the better, and improving the already expensive roster will be difficult. And Van Gundy will be under scrutiny if the Magic are dispatched in the opening round. They tumbled to a 52-30 record this season after back-to-back 59-win seasons under the fiery coach. He has seen his offense, which relies heavily on the 3-point shot, fizzle against the Hawks.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was his usual load and vocal self after Sunday night’s Game 4 to the Atlanta Hawks as he searched for positives to encourage his frustrated basketball team. The gist of message was this: Nothing about the Magic’s plight – other than being in a must-win situation – has changed despite being in a 3-1 hole. The Magic still hope to protect their homecourt against the Hawks in Tuesday’s Game 5 at Amway Center. If they can force a Game 6 on Thursday, they still have to find a way to win in Atlanta, something that has been a reality since losing Game 1 in Orlando last week. And to do both of those things they still must figure how to get some sort of offensive flow going in a series where points and made shots have been tough to come by. And, oh yeah, the fourth-seeded Magic have to do it right away come Tuesday night or a season filled with so much promise could be over at the hands of the fifth-seeded Hawks.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Now that his sizzling scoring has helped put the Hawks on the verge of advancing past the Magic into the Eastern Conference semifinals, the praise is flowing for Jamal Crawford. But Crawford remembers the tags critics not so long ago used to hang on him. He was a scorer but needed a lot of shots to get his points. He put up big numbers but he did so while playing for bad teams. His one-on-one style was good for highlights, bad for winning. […] Most of those criticisms fell by the wayside last season, when Crawford joined the Hawks via trade and had the most efficient scoring season of his career. Atlanta won 53 games and Crawford was voted the NBA’s Sixth Man Award. He further bolstered his credentials last spring when he was Atlanta’s most consistent scorer in his first postseason appearance. That hardly gained notice, though, because the Hawks wheezed past Milwaukee in the first round before getting summarily swept by Orlando. Now Crawford is doing it again and more people are taking notice, especially Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.”

Apr 25

Blue & White Ignite: Magic fans have opportunity to win playoff tickets for Game 5

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Amway Center has turned into the Blue Zoo, presented by MetroPCS, with the Magic offering fans the opportunity to win home game playoff tickets for Round 1. The Blue Zoo was designed to engage the Magic’s most passionate fans during the playoffs. The only way fans can obtain tickets to be part of the Blue Zoo presented by MetroPCS is to demonstrate how much they love the Orlando Magic at Fan Fest (located on Church St. outside Amway Center) prior to select Magic home games. Fans should be geared up with their best Orlando Magic outfits, face paint, hair dye and other fun items ready for their chance to earn their way into the Blue Zoo. Fans can get up-to-date information on how to get into the Blue Zoo through the Magic social media outlets (twitter.com/orlando_magic; facebook.com/orlandomagic).

Apr 25

Recapping Games 3 and 4 for the Orlando Magic with Synergy

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Before the playoffs started, I previewed Orlando’s first round matchup using data from Synergy Sports Technology. Last week, we looked at the playoff games in Orlando. Today, let’s examine the results from the contests in Atlanta.

Game 3

PPP = Points Per Possession

Orlando offense
Orlando’s spot-up game finally produced in Game 3. In Games 1 and 2, Orlando never cracked 0.5 PPP in spot-up. In Game 3, it was Orlando’s best play and they obtained 1.4 PPP. The performance far exceeded their season average of 1.05 PPP, which ranked as the 5th best in the NBA.

The ball handler’s in the pick-and-roll were used extensively Game 3, but their production was the worst among their playoff games. Through three post-season games, Orlando’s pick-and-roll PPP hasn’t matched their lofty production in the regular season.

The Magic utilized roll men four times in Game 2 but reverted to little use in Game 3. Orlando only used their most potent play on one occasion, a Hedo Turkoglu lob to Dwight Howard in the 1st quarter.

The post-up game for Orlando was successful for the third straight game. The indomitable force, Dwight Howard, was responsible for all seven of Orlando’s post-up buckets. He made four hook shots over Jason Collins, two with each hand. Brandon Bass and Jason Richardson used the other three attempts.

Orlando only managed a single And 1 attempt for the second straight game. Dwight Howard was fouled by 2003 Magic draft pick Zaza Pachulia with two minutes left in the first half.

Orlando was the best team in the NBA after they secured an offensive rebound in the regular season and they have continued this trend through three playoff games. Orlando averaged 1.25 PPP after offensive rebounds in the first game in Atlanta.

One particularly bad area for Orlando was their percentage on transition three-pointers. The team went 1-6, and Quentin Richardson’s make over Pachulia was the only successful attempt.

Hedo shot 3-11 overall and went 1-6 beyond the arc. Among players with 600 or more attempts, only three active players (Ron Artest, Jason Kidd, Stephen Jackson) have a lower career FG% than Hedo does in the playoffs.

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Apr 25

Second Look: Atlanta Hawks 88, Orlando Magic 85

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “In the Orlando Magic‘s postgame locker room Sunday night, Stan Van Gundy turned to his assistant coaches and asked a question. Should they take their players directly from Orlando International Airport to Amway Center upon arrival in Florida and shoot baskets until their teamwide shooting woes disappear? Van Gundy was only half-joking. An atrocious shooting slump, poor perimeter defense and a tendency to start games slowly has the Magic one loss away from elimination after they dropped Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks 88-85 Sunday night at Philips Arena. Only eight teams in NBA history have accomplished what the Magic will try to do now: win a best-of-seven series after trailing three games to one. Dwight Howard boiled down the talk ahead to a simple message to his teammates. […] Appropriately enough, Game 4 ended on a missed 3-pointer. The Magic inbounded the ball to Gilbert Arenas with 10.5 seconds left, and Arenas swung the ball to Hedo Turkoglu. The Hawks’ Al Horford knocked the ball away, and although Turkoglu recovered it, he had no choice but to take a desperation shot. It clanged off the back left side of the rim, sending the announced crowd of 19,490 and the Hawks into a frenzy.”
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Hate to say it, but it might just be time for the most dreaded four words in the Magic playoff vernacular: Gentlemen, start your razors. Before the Magic began the 2011 NBA playoffs, players vowed not to shave until the postseason was over and fans throughout Central Florida began the rallying cry … “Fear the Beard!” Now, after yet another nail-biting, heart-breaking loss to the Atlanta Hawks that has put the Magic in a nearly hopeless 3-1 hole, it’s getting closer and closer to a time when “Fear the Beer” might be a more appropriate mantra. After all, it probably won’t be long now before Magic fans everywhere are drowning their sorrows following what is quickly turning into an depressingly disappointing season. But there is one positive. Hey, Magic fans, did you see Gilbert Arenas Sunday night? What’s it tell you about this series when the Magic can’t beat the Hawks when Dwight Howard scores 46 points in Game 1 and when Arenas rises from the ashes to score to score 20 in Game 4? Maybe it’s just not meant to be. Maybe just maybe the Hawks, who have now beaten the Magic six of eight times this season, are just the better team.”
  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Atlanta Hawks are programmed to beat the Orlando Magic. Three out of four in the regular season. Now three out of four in the playoffs after Atlanta took a commanding 3-1 Sunday night. Magic fans can scream all they want about the clank-clank perimeter shooting of Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, Ryan Anderson and J.J. Redick (at least he has a doctor’s excuse — he’s been hurt). The problem is that the Magic are very beatable when no one doubles down on Dwight Howard. The Magic aren’t very good about creating their own shots or driving to the basket. They are very good in working the ball around and getting good spacing on the floor to set up their perimeter game. But that’s not happening because the Hawks aren’t double-teaming Dwight Howard. The Hawks are bigger and squeezing the Magic out of their comfort zone. They are still getting jump shots, just not where they want them.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Much like in this increasingly frustrating series, the Orlando Magic could never get over the hump on Sunday night against the Atlanta Hawks. Now, trailing 3-1, the Magic are faced with overcoming a mountain of odds to save their playoff lives. The Magic dug their way out of an early hole and twice got Game 4 tied in the fourth quarter on Sunday night, but they could never take the lead and had to stomach a crushing 88-85 loss to the Hawks that dropped them into a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series. To get out of the first round of the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season, the fourth-seeded Magic must now beat the fifth-seeded Hawks three straight games. Game 5 is Tuesday night in the Amway Center. Counting regular-season play, the Hawks have now defeated the Magic in six of eight games this season, including all four times at Atlanta’s Philips Arena.”
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “About all that’s changed is the sudden emergence of Arenas, who had, at least on this night, the look of a useful NBA player again. Arenas earned a Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision in Game Three as coach Stan Van Gundy called on Turkoglu to play point forward, but he elected to give Arenas a go tonight. The Magic’s big-name midseason acquisition delivered, to a degree, pouring in 20 points in 22 minutes, the sort of high-pressure outing Magic fans had hoped for. Only he and Dwight Howard (a game-high 29 points) could score consistently.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “It took a lot of hard work for the Hawks to take homecourt advantage away from the Magic in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series. They nearly gave it back with several mistakes in the final moments of Game 4 on Sunday night before finally putting away the Magic. Guard Joe Johnson made four free throws in the final 20.2 seconds to secure Atlanta’s 88-85 victory over Orlando at Philips Arena. The Hawks can win the best-of-seven series with a victory at Orlando on Tuesday. Jamal Crawford scored a team-high 25 points and Johnson had 20 for the Hawks.”
  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Say what you will about these Hawks, and by now we’ve said it all, usually with a few choice words interspersed. That they’re sloppy with a lead. That they often act as if basketball was a sport scored on degree of difficulty. That they lead the world in keeping both teams in the game. But here’s something we haven’t been able to say about any Hawks team since 1970: That it leads a best-of-seven series 3-1. Also this: That it’s one game from winning a playoff series in which it didn’t hold the homecourt edge for the first time since 1996.”
  • Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: “Either prolonged exposure to this series is creating an illusion of coherence or Game 4 was the most Hawks/Magic game of this Hawks/Magic series. There were the requisite 88 points scored by the winning team, the terrible shot selection (both teams), the terrible shot-making (Orlando only), the improbably great yet perfectly representative, in kind if not frequency, shot-making of Jamal Crawford, a routine 29 and 17 from Dwight Howard, Jason Collins fouling, 19 unproductive minutes from hideously unqualified Hawk frontcourt reserves, the Hawks building a significant lead despite not playing very good offense, the Magic erasing that lead despite not playing very good offense, and the Hawks prevailing through some combination of the aforementioned Crawford and Collins plus an inefficient but impressive Al Horford, Joe Johnson being efficient but unimpressive for long stretches, Kirk Hinrich making Hawks fans so happy Mike Bibby’s gone, and Josh Smith being inexplicable but not completely useless. “

Apr 24

Recap: Atlanta Hawks 88, Orlando Magic 85

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

The Atlanta Hawks were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 88-85 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The Hawks are one win away from ending the Magic’s season, and exacting revenge from last year’s sweep in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. Four free-throws from Joe Johnson helped seal the deal for Atlanta, as they helped to stave off Orlando from coming back and stealing Game 4 on the road. With 10.5 seconds left in regulation and the Magic trailing by three points, the basketball was put in Hedo Turkoglu‘s hands but he was unable to deliver with a game-tying shot to extend the game into overtime. It was a scenario in which Orlando sorely missed Jason Richardson, given that he’s been able to come through in crunch-time situations time and again. The Hawks were led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Jamal Crawford finished with 25 points and six assists, continuing his onslaught in the series as Atlanta’s sixth man. Johnson had 20 points and nine rebounds. Al Horford chipped in with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists, while Kirk Hinrich contributed with 14 points. Dwight Howard had another dominant game, finishing with 29 points, 17 rebounds, and two blocks but a lack of support from his teammates has been the Magic’s downfall. Gilbert Arenas redeemed himself after poor performances in Games 1 and 2, as well as a no-show in Game 3, by putting up 20 points and five rebounds, giving Orlando a much-needed boost on offense even though it was in vain.

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Apr 24

Preview: Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks, Game 4

7:00 EDT | TNT
52-30 @ 44-38
Pythagorean Record: 56-26 Pythagorean Record: 39-43
Pace: 91.4 (17th) Pace: 89.3 (27th)
Offensive Rating: 107.7 (14th) Offensive Rating: 106.1 (20th)
Defensive Rating: 101.8 (3rd) Defensive Rating: 107.0 (13th)
Philips Arena | Hawks lead series 2-1

Apr 24

Sneak Preview: Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks, Game 4

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Orlando] Magic GM Otis Smith will take applications for the backup center position behind Dwight Howard for 2011-12. Can a kid who logged zero minutes and seldom practiced with the team win the job? Is Daniel Orton that guy? ‘I believe I am,’ Orton told me. ‘I believe I am for so many reasons, but I’d rather not say because it would only raise expectations higher. I’m not a sayer. I’m a doer.’ As the Magic’s first-round pick out of Kentucky, Orton, 20, couldn’t do anything this season as a rookie but watch. He didn’t get on the floor after battling a lingering left knee injuries, which eventually required surgery in late December. He partially tore the ACL as a junior in high school, and tore his meniscus as a senior, undergoing more surgery. He underwent arthroscopic surgery after playing his second game of a D-League stint with the New Mexico Thunderbirds. Physically, Orton says his knee is sound, but he won’t go full bore until sometime this summer.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Maybe familiarity really does breed contempt, because the first-round playoff series between the Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks is becoming downright chippy. On a day the NBA handed down one-game suspensions to Orlando’s Jason Richardson and Atlanta’s Zaza Pachulia for fighting each other, both teams escalated their posturing for officials and had increasingly harsh words for each other. Stan Van Gundy complained that Hawks centers Jason Collins and Zaza Pachulia hit superstar Dwight Howard at every opportunity but flop to the court whenever they face minimal contact. Meanwhile, Collins and Pachulia said that Howard dishes out at least as much punishment as he receives. And the Magic stewed that Richardson received the same punishment as Pachulia.”
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: ” This could be your big chance, Gilbert Arenas. Tonight’s the night. Don’t blow it. Starting shooting guard Jason Richardson has been suspended from tonight’s crucial Game 4 of the Magic’s playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks. This could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for, Gilbert, to get back into the rotation and earn that $18 million salary Magic fans believe is the biggest waste of money since frozen coffee drinks. {…] If ever there was a time for Agent Zero to become a Magic hero, this is it. Call me Mr. Melodrama if you want, but there isn’t just one game riding on tonight’s outcome; the season is riding on it. The future of the franchise could be riding on it. This is as close to must-win as you can without actually being mathematically eliminated from a series completely. Let’s face it, does anybody really think the Magic can afford to go down 3-1 to the Hawks – a talented and athletic team that has beaten the Magic 5-of-7 times this season? If the Magic lose tonight, the chances of them winning this series are about the same as the chances of Van Gundy being invited to be on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ This could be Gilbert’s grand opportunity to not only save the Magic’s season but to save good friend and Magic GM Otis Smith’s reputation – and perhaps even his job.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick flashed the bright, red wound on the inside of his left arm, offered to show the matching strawberry abrasion on his hip and admitted on Saturday that there are still times when he feels a stabbing pain from an abdominal strain injury. But with his Magic shorthanded because of a suspension, rattled somewhat by a shooting slump and peering out of a 2-1 playoff hole courtesy of the Atlanta Hawks, Redick knows that now is no time for pity. He said his team should be feeling the urgency to deliver its finest performance come Sunday’s Game 4 at Philips Arena in Atlanta. A Magic squad that’s struggled to score in the regular season and playoffs against the Hawks will be playing Sunday night without shooting guard Jason Richardson, Orlando’s second-leading scorer this season. He was suspended a game for Friday’s fourth-quarter fight with Atlanta center Zaza Pachulia. Richardson said the Magic clearly got the worst of that swap.”
  • Steve Hummer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Magic center, by way of tiny Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, stands as the single largest — 6-foot-11, 265 pounds to be exact — obstacle between the Hawks and Round 2 of these NBA playoffs. Against the Hawks, Howard has been a transcendent force, playing all but five of 144 minutes of the first three games, despite a rotation of Hawks big men hanging from him like anchor chains. His scoring has dropped with each game (46 to 33 to 21), yet within this star-laden postseason, he entered Saturday ranked first in scoring (33.3 per game), rebounding (17.7 per game) and minutes per game (46). Orlando so needs him on the floor that his coach, Stan Van Gundy said, ‘It’s very hard to even let him get a drink of water.’ He is a soloist, the Yo-Yo Ma of post play, while Orlando aches to hear from the rest of the orchestra. Game 4 of the best-of-seven series looms Sunday at Philips — the Hawks up 2-1 and the stage set for further friction. Hawks center Zaza Pachulia came out of Game 3 on Friday looking as if he had spent the evening locked in a cage with an angry wolverine, scratches covering one arm. Howard has banked two postseason technical fouls already, both of them involving Pachulia. He flung the Hawks’ backup big man to the court in Game 1, and on Friday flailed at Pachulia after a hard foul, catching him across the neck.”
  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Losing Zaza Pachulia hurts the Hawks. Losing Jason Richardson hurts the Magic more. It’s pretty simple why. Zaza is a sub splitting minutes at center, where the Hawks have other choices: Jason Collins is the starter in this lineup, and Al Horford has had some success at the position, having twice made the All-Star team. Richardson is a starter and was, at least during the regular season, the second-leading scorer on a team starving for options beyond Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson. Howard has averaged 33.3 points in this series, up nearly 10 over his regular-season yield. Of Orlando’s 92 baskets, he has 33. Nelson has 19. That means 56.5 percent of the Magic’s offense is coming from two players. That’s why the Hawks lead 2-1. The rest of the Magic men have been, in a word, lousy.”

Apr 23

Second Look: Atlanta Hawks 88, Orlando Magic 84

P(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic can point to a fortunate 3-point heave by Jamal Crawford as the reason why they lost Game 3 of their playoff series to the Atlanta Hawks 88-84. But as Crawford triumphantly hopped up and down the Philips Arena court, game-in-hand with 5.7 seconds remaining, the Magic only had themselves — and not bad luck — to blame. Jason Richardson lost his cool late. Hedo Turkoglu lost his shooting stroke. For one half, the Magic lost their intensity on the defensive end of the court. And now the team trails the best-of-seven series two games to one. The Magic may confront an additional obstacle when Game 4 arrives Sunday. Richardson could be serving a league-imposed suspension for fighting with Atlanta’s Zaza Pachulia late in Game 3’s fourth quarter. With Atlanta ahead 81-80 with 2:22 remaining, Pachulia fouled [Dwight] Howard hard as Howard shot the ball in the lane. As Howard landed, his right forearm careened into the left side of Pachulia’s face just as Pachulia flung an arm at Howard. Richardson raced into the picture, and as he and Pachulia jawed at each other, Pachulia delivered two or three head butts to Richardson’s forehead. Richardson responded by delivering a slap to Pachulia’s face. Both Richardson and Pachulia were ejected for fighting, and Howard received a technical foul.”

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic are spending money like the New York Yankees, but after yet another loss to the Atlanta Hawks Friday you wonder if they aren’t cooking their books like the New York Mets. Nearly $20 million for Gilbert Arenas, who didn’t even play in Friday night’s 88-84 defeat? Another $10 million for Hedo Turkoglu, who made a triumphant return to Orlando earlier this season but forgot to bring his shooting touch and basketball sense with him? This has to be some sort of Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, doesn’t it? Somebody please call the Securities and Exchange Commission. Rich DeVos has to be robbing Peter to pay Gilbert, right? The reason we bring this up is because of a recent study conducted by ESPN the Magazine that found the Magic have the fifth-highest salary structure in sports. Let me repeat that: The Magic have the fifth-highest salary structure not in the basketball world but in the entire world. The Magic pay their players an average of $6,367,114 per year, a number only exceeded by Real Madrid and Barcelona of Spain’s premier soccer league, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Lakers. Hey, you think it’s cheap to build the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference?”

  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Of all the ways to get floored Friday night in Game 3, the Orlando Magic couldn’t have ever seen a knockout punch quite like this coming. Jamal Crawford’s questionable shot selection was rewarded when his desperation 3-point shot banked off the glass and gave the Atlanta Hawks an 88-84 defeat of the Magic in Friday’s Game 3 at Philips Arena. Down as many as 14 points in the first half, the Magic came all the way back and took an 84-83 lead with 1 minute to play on Brandon Bass’ clutch jumper from the free throw line. But the Hawks scored the final two baskets of the game – a 15-footer from Al Horford with 46 seconds to play and Crawford’s miracle bank shot from 26 feet out to seal the game. The defeat dropped the Magic into a 2-1 hole in the best-of-seven first-round playoff series. Game 4 is Sunday night in Atlanta, and superstar center Dwight Howard vowed afterward that he still has supreme confidence that his Magic can win the series.”

  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “The Hawks built a 14-point lead in the second period, mostly with Howard on the bench, and the Magic never really recovered. An outstanding defensive third period bought them to within four points, and a top-of-the-circle jumper from Brandon Bass gave them a one-point lead with a minute remaining. On Atlanta’s next possession, the Hawks leveraged the Magic’s defense against itself. Stationing Al Horford on the weak side, the Hawks fed Johnson the ball in the right short-corner, anticipating the help-defense attention he’d draw. The ball swung to Horford just inside the arc, and he drilled the shot–with no Orlando player anywhere near him, due to the over-rotating–to give Atlanta the lead for good. With 46 seconds remaining, the Magic had possession, trailed by one, and had a decent chance to get a good shot up in a two-for-one situation. They failed to execute. Hedo Turkoglu ran a high screen-and-roll with Dwight Howard, the Magic’s go-to play when they absolutely need to score. Turkoglu drove to his right toward the baseline, tiptoed along it, and continued dribbling toward the corner; he completely missed Howard, who dove to the rim and could have had a dunk.”

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Crawford’s leaning, challenged shot with 5.7 seconds left provided an unlikely ending to Atlanta’s 88-84 victory over the Magic on Friday at Philips Arena. The Hawks lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 on Sunday at home. The Hawks survived to win an intense, physical contest that featured late ejections for Hawks center Zaza Pachulia and Magic guard Jason Richardson. They’ve now won five of seven games against the Magic including the regular season. The lower-seeded Hawks took home-court advantage in the series by winning one of two games in Orlando and kept it with a victory in front of a rowdy, sellout home crowd.”

  • Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: “The Atlanta Hawks are only playing consistently well on one end of the floor (and then only when fielding a five-man unit capable of executing the sound defensive game plan) but, even that limited, consistent success marks them superior to an Orlando Magic team that, Dwight Howard (and for one half of six, Jameer Nelson) excepted, has struggled to score and been just susceptible enough to dribble penetration from Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson that the Atlanta guards have created enough good shots to augment their abilities to make difficult shots and to overcome their own team’s (self-inflicted) defensive lapses. You don’t have to play well to win a playoff series if you make (and let) the other team play worse.”

Apr 23

Recap: Atlanta Hawks 88, Orlando Magic 84

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

In a crucial Game 3, which can decide a series (the winner goes on to win the series 82.2 percent of the time), the Atlanta Hawks were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 88-84 to take a 2-1 series lead in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The game, and possibly the series, came down to two possessions for the Magic and Hawks that has defined their matchup since the start of the season. With 46.6 seconds left in regulation, Orlando was down a point and needed a basket to take the lead. The play that head coach Stan Van Gundy chose to run was a 3/5 pick and roll with Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard at the top of the key — same play that sealed their Game 2 victory. This time, Atlanta defended it well. Turkoglu penetrated into the lane but didn’t have a clear look at the rim or an angle to pass it to Howard, so he passed it to Brandon Bass but he wasn’t open by any means. So Bass gave the basketball back to Turkoglu. With Al Horford defending him, Turkoglu was in the corner and after a few seconds trying to create space to put up a shot, he took a three-pointer that was contested and missed. Given that there was still time for the Magic to get a better look, it’s ironic that Turkoglu decided to take the difficult route in that scenario. Since returning to Orlando, there have been too many times in which Turkoglu passes up an easy shot in favor of a more difficult one and the same thing happened in that late-game sequence. Well, the Hawks retrieved the rebound and all the Magic needed to do was to get a stop on the ensuing possession for another crack at winning the game. However, with the ball in his hands and the shot clock winding down, Jamal Crawford was matched up against Jameer Nelson. Crawford tried to break Nelson down off the dribble as he always tries to do against his defenders, but no dice. As such, Crawford was forced to put up a contested shot like Turkoglu. However, the difference is that Crawford has a height advantage on Nelson. Even though Nelson closes out on the shot and puts his hands up, Crawford is able to elevate higher. And with luck on Atlanta’s side for most of the series, Crawford banks in the three-pointer that pushes the lead to four points with 5.7 seconds left and ends the game.

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