- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Want to play with Dwight Howard and the Magic? Only shooters need apply. It’s all part of the plan or “formula,” as General Manager Otis Smith calls it. When the Magic landed Howard in the 2004 draft, they decided to surround him with guys who could put the ball in the basket, especially from the 3-point line. “Shooting has to be a priority. You have to think about how to increase space for Dwight and the only way to do that is to put shooters around him,” Smith said. “We’ve done a good job at every position of finding guys who’ve been able to do that.” It’s the guy who has hit only one 3-pointer his entire career (while missing 18) that makes it all possible. Howard draws so much defensive attention that shooters are left uncovered. When the ball is moving crisply, the Magic can resemble a high-scoring video game.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “For the Atlanta Hawks, the question isn’t whether they can become the first team in NBA history to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games. Their central challenge is far more basic. Will they play hard when they host the Orlando Magic tonight in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series? Atlanta’s two blowout losses — by 43 points in Game 1 and by 30 points in Game 3 — have left Hawks players and their coach questioning their own heart.”
- Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com: “Seven down, nine to go. That is the message around the Orlando Magic locker room as they prepare for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday at 8 p.m. ET. The ultimate goal is to claim 16 total victories in the postseason and, as a result, hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The Magic have shown throughout the playoffs to be very capable of accomplishing this aspiration. They are a franchise-best 7-0 to start the postseason, have captured 13 straight victories dating back to the regular season and have been relentless in their quest to prove they are the best team in the NBA.”
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Hawks’ issues might boil down to personnel, philosophy and payroll, with the three areas tied together. The Hawks can’t match the Orlando’s depth. That has contributed to offensive and defensive philosophies that have proven to be less effective in the playoffs than during the regular season. The team’s payroll lags well behind the league’s elite teams. The Hawks’ $66 million payroll ranked last among Eastern Conference teams in the playoffs. It’s $15 million shy of Orlando and $8 million behind the lowest payroll among the other seven teams still playing.”
- Ken Suguira of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Smith and Howard, Orlando’s All-NBA center, have outgrown daycare but not each other. They’ve been friends since they were young kids and were teammates, with Hawks backup center Randolph Morris, on the Atlanta Celtics AAU team in high school. [...] In that sense, not much has changed. Howard and Smith have gone at each other in the series, now 3-0 in Orlando’s favor, with Game 4 on Monday night at Philips Arena. Smith scores in transition, takes charges and swat shots; Howard controls the paint, throws down vicious dunks and drops in shots from the post.”
- Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “To break apart this roster now would be tantamount to surrender, and we know too well what that’s like. But to expect these players to respond more positively to this coach in his seventh season on the job is likewise folly. We Atlantans saw the same thing happen more than two decades ago when a good young team grew up around Mike Fratello but eventually stopped listening. Now as then, it comes down to one question: Is it easier to change the team or change the coach? And the answer, now as then, is that the Hawks can conceivably find an upgrade on Mike Woodson. They might not find another Joe Johnson. This summer isn’t the time to subtract talent. It’s the time to do as the elite teams do and add, add, add.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Rashard] Lewis and the Orlando Magic continued their march toward a dream of winning a NBA title, dispatching the Atlanta Hawks 105-75 on Saturday to take a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Magic, beaten by the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals last season, can sweep their second consecutive series on Monday night in Game 4 against the Hawks. Orlando pitched a 4-0 shutout in the first round against the Charlotte Bobcats. The Magic remained unbeaten in the playoffs at 7-0 and won their 13th consecutive game, including the last six games of the regular season. They have grounded the Hawks by embarrassing margins, winning by 43, 14 and 30. Saturday’s demolition marked only the fourth time in postseason history that a team has won two or more playoff games by 30 or more points in a single series.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “This was not a basketball game so much as it was a funeral march. The only thing missing from the pre-game introductions was a lone bugler playing Taps as the Magic carried a coffin draped in a Hawks banner out to midcourt. This was no coliseum; it was a mausoleum a place where NBA atmosphere comes to die. You call this place an NBA playoff basketball crowd. It looked more like a WNBA midseason crowd. Even though it was called a sellout, you should have seen the vast expanses of empty seats at tipoff Saturday. The Hawks, even though they won 53 games this season and are the No. 3 seed in the East, were 22nd in the league in attendance.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “What a homecoming for Dwight Howard. With his parents, his brother and his two grandmothers inside Philips Arena, the Orlando Magic center led his team to a 105-75 victory Saturday over the Atlanta Hawks and to within one win of the Eastern Conference finals. Howard overcame early foul trouble to score 21 points and collect a game-high 16 rebounds, and he kept his cool even as he faced a defense that battered him whenever he received the ball deep in the paint. That calmness, often absent during the playoffs’ first round, is what impressed his father most.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Now 7-0 in the playoffs and possibly poised for a second four-game sweep in as many weeks, the Orlando Magic are resembling an unstoppable, unbreakable team clearly on a championship-or-bust mission now. A Magic team that is the NBA’s only undefeated squad in the playoffs and hasn’t lost since early April broke the will of the Atlanta Hawks early on Saturday and coasted though the second half. After the Magic’s 105-75 throttling of the Hawks, all that remains now in this series is a Game 4 that might be a mere formality considering the way Orlando has owned its Southeast Division rivals all season. Just four days after smacking the Hawks around in a 43-point victory, the Magic led this one by as many as 32 points in a bloodbath of a second half. Including the regular season, it was the Magic’s sixth win in seven meetings against the Hawks – with most of them being of the lopsided variety – and the ninth victory in 11 games over the past two seasons.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “The Magic were all business to start the game, really. Making the right reads, running to open spaces, and scoring with relative ease. And as early as their third possession, we got a great indication of how the game would play out. Lewis short-rimmed a three-pointer from the right wing, but the ball caromed directly to him about 18 feet from the rim. Johnson and Josh Smith converged to get the board, but backed off once Lewis snared it. Johnson then turned his attention to finding his man, while Smith took a step back and clapped his hands in frustration. Lewis took a few dribbles to the basket and laid it in. He’s seen more aggressive defense in pregame layup lines, I can assure you. It struck me as odd that Smith would just concede the shot like that, even knowing Smith’s reputation for taking plays off. It was emblematic of a problem that affected most of the Hawks players today, by my estimation: an utter lack of urgency or purpose. I Tweeted that Atlanta approached this game with all the intensity it’d bring for a January game against the Nets, and even that might have been charitable. Whereas the Magic patiently ran their offense on one end, the Hawks just forced the issue on the other. They didn’t turn the ball over–they rarely do, ranking first in turnover rate this season–but just did not get good looks.”
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “History suggests the loss means the inevitable end of the Hawks’ season. No NBA team has come back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs. At this point the Hawks might settle for the more modest goal of not getting blown out by Orlando. That has happened only once in three playoff games against the Magic, who have led for 121:48 of the 144 minutes played in the series.”
- Ken Sugiura of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Hawks delivered an improbably ineffective offensive performance, with guard Joe Johnson stumbling through one of the worst playoff games of his career. Johnson missed his first five shots on his way to a 3-for-15 night for eight points. He missed a series of open jump shots and floaters, shots he normally makes. “I don’t know,” Johnson said, asked for an explanation. “It was a bad game.” The last time Johnson had a lower shooting percentage in a playoff game was 2003, his second year in the NBA. After making 42 of 88 shots in the first four games of the first-round series against Milwaukee, he is 30-for-96 in the past six games. He would not blame the right thumb that he sprained near the end of the regular season for his shooting.”
- Jordan Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Let’s start with the obvious: The Orlando Magic are better. They have a center. They have a point guard. They have a roster of players with complete sets of working organs, and isn’t that a novelty? But sometimes things happen in sports that make you declare, “Push the button and blow the whole damn thing up.” This was one of them. In a home playoff game, in an obvious desperation game, in a game where the Hawks had an opportunity to show us what substance they were made of, they collectively screamed, “Goo.” They didn’t score. They didn’t defend. They didn’t rebound. They didn’t compete. We saw better performances when bodies were being jettisoned and the roster was all about 10-day contracts and cap space.”
- Frank Hughes of Sports Illustrated: “The Magic certainly possess the look of a team that can compete for a championship. The question that must be asked is whether the Magic have played that well or have their competition been that weak? Probably a little bit of both, but there is no doubt that their interior-exterior attack is clicking perfectly. Dwight Howard seemed virtually non-existent in this game, in part because he picked up two early fouls, and still ended up with 21 points and 16 rebounds. His teammates combined for 10 3-pointers and probably could have had many more had the outcome not been decided by halftime. As the Cavaliers and Celtics hammer each other in the other Eastern Conference series, the Magic conceivably could get a week of rest if they are able to close out this series Monday night.”
- Benson Taylor of The Baseline: “Another dominating performance by Orlando. Either the Cavs or the Celtics, whoever wins the other East semifinal, might shudder when they watch the video of what the Magic have been doing against the Hawks. That’s also assuming, of course, that the Magic win this series, which is now a mere formality after taking a 3-0 second-round lead.”
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “After blowing out the Atlanta Hawks for the second time in three games, the Orlando Magic now finds itself a win away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals unbeaten. Given the way Atlanta competed in what was essentially a must-win game–as ESPN has been happy to remind us the last two nights, NBA teams are 0-88 in best-of-seven history when falling behind in the series 3-0–the chances of Orlando making it back-to-back sweeps look awfully good. In sum, it’s hard to tell what has been the defining story of this series–how poorly the Hawks have played outside of the first half of Game Two or how well the Magic is playing. In this case, given the lopsided nature of the games, I think it is possible that both are accurate descriptions.”
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “Crawford, who won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award, led the Hawks with 22 points, but the tone already was set before he entered the game late in the first quarter. There was no high-energy, revved-up emotional charge that was expected at the start. From Atlanta’s perspective, it felt more like one of 82 regular season games. The Hawks, No. 3 seed in the East, came into this series after a surprisingly competitive seven-game series against a mediocre Milwaukee team. They have lost to Orlando by 43, 14 and 30 points. They could lose Game 4 on Monday by 50.”
- John Krolik of ProBasketballTalk: “Nothing went right for the Hawks. The team shot 35% from the field and 4-15 from beyond the arc. No Hawks player shot better than 50% from the field. Joe Johnson was absolutely abysmal, going 3-15 from the field. The Hawks recorded nine total assists all game. The Magic outrebounded the Hawks 51-34. Faced with the pressure of a 2-0 deficit and the task of scoring against the Magic’s dominant defense, Atlanta completely folded. A miserable performance, and one that could leave a sour taste in Hawks fans’ mouths all summer if they don’t manage to compete in game four.”
Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images
In a game that was rather uneventful from the opening tip, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Atlanta Hawks by the score of 105-75 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Magic were led by an excellent performance from Rashard Lewis, who had 22 points and five rebounds. Dwight Howard finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Jameer Nelson and Matt Barnes chipped in with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Jamal Crawford led the way for the Hawks, with 22 points.
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “One thing [Orlando] Magic coach Stan Van Gundy likes about his team is that their success will depend not on whether or not they put forth the right amount of effort each night or other intangibles. “These guys have been great,” Van Gundy said. “They enjoy playing together. They play well together. They trust each other. … I’ve got a lot of confidence in this team that it’ll just come down to how well we play. It won’t be chemistry problems, it won’t be lack of professionalism. It’ll come down to how we play.” Van Gundy said the kind of balanced scoring the Magic displayed in Thursday night’s Game 2 — when four players scored more than 20 points — is consistent with how the team has played all season. Often, though, rather than four players with more than 20 points, the Magic have six or seven players in double-figures.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Nothing else has distracted Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, so the Atlanta Hawks might need help from their unspoken home-court advantage today for Game 3. The ATL will certainly accommodate the Magic if they want to party early. The Magic will spend three nights in the city, a legendary NBA hot-spot. [...] The Magic say they aren’t about to fall to Atlanta’s reputation, even with a 2-0 lead in the playoff series. The club’s security detail is on alert because Howard, a graduate of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, is returning home. Other than that, the team is looking at it as a business trip.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Dwight Howard has played in his childhood home of Atlanta 12 times in his six-year NBA career, and at times it proved to be more of a challenge than a luxury. The demand for tickets and the tugs on his time proved to be a challenge early on in Howard’s career when he was still a teenager. And, of course, there were the times when Howard felt the urge to take over games and put on a show for his family and friends. But as Howard heads back to Atlanta now for his first-ever playoff series in his hometown, clearly the 24-year-old consensus All-NBA pick has learned a few tricks of the trade about thriving in his old stomping grounds. “My phone is turned off, both of them, so people are going to have to scream through the TV to talk to me while I’m in Atlanta,” Howard said with a chuckle about how he plans on handling the off-court distractions.”
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “They were good for one quarter in Orlando, then three quarters, and now the Hawks are back at Philips Arena. The Hawks say they are trending upward. The progression didn’t translate into a victory in Orlando during the first two games of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals. It almost has to mean a victory in Game 3 on Saturday: No NBA team has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series. And though the Hawks were dominant at home in the regular season, the Magic have been playing at an elite level for more than two months.”
- Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Hawks led the Magic by two points after 35 minutes and 59 seconds here Thursday night. They trailed by 19 points barely eight minutes later. The visitors had gotten almost everything they could have hoped from the first three quarters, and yet, once again, they weren’t close at the end. There was about Game 2 a sensation of a best shot having been delivered and parried — a chilling thought. Asked if that was his impression, Josh Smith said: “There’s a better shot still to come. We have to play the full 48.” Maybe those long-awaited 48 minutes will come at Philips Arena on Saturday. If not, that’s it for this season. The team that won 53 games is down to its last real chance.”
- Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com: “Vince Carter has dazzled NBA fans since arriving in the NBA in 1998 with awe-inspiring slam dunks, acrobatic shots and stunning long range game-winning 3-pointers. It’s hard to definitively say, however, that one particular game-winner was more impressive than another. VC’s 35-footer at the buzzer against the Utah Jazz in 2007 and his crowd-shattering trey in his first return to Toronto since being traded to New Jersey are two of his most watched on YouTube. But, perhaps no last-second shot was more improbable than Vinsanity’s buzzer-beater last season against the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 2, 2009 while playing for the Nets.”
- It’s safe to say that Jameer Nelson has stepped up in the postseason.
- Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie notes that Dwight Howard is a funny character.
- Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference calculates the odds that the Orlando Magic go Fo’-Fo’-Fo’ in the playoffs.
- Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook takes a look at how the Magic were able to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth quarter of Game 2.
- Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated: “They drew the easiest path to the conference finals of any favorite East or West, but don’t hold that against Orlando. The Magic will likely finish off the Hawks within five games and wait unscathed for Cleveland or Boston to emerge. They don’t have Hedo Turkoglu creating mismatches anymore, but they do have Jameer Nelson playing at a high level, they are possibly the best defensive team in the tournament and they believe wholeheartedly they can beat the Cavaliers or the Celtics. While the Cavs, Lakers and Spurs have all foundered at times this postseason, the Magic have looked ruthlessly efficient. We may yet look back to realize this was the league’s best team all along.”
- Nada Taha Moslehy of SLAM ONLINE: “Vince Carter jumped up for a monstrous block and hustled down the other end of the court for a pull-up three. At half court, Josh Smith bent over for a moment and had a look of defeat splashed across his face. A few minutes later, after a couple more Hawks turnovers and Magic treys (they hit four in the final quarter), Atlanta called timeout and coach Mike Woodson shook his head in his hands. You would think this was a scene from Game 1 where the Magic annihilated the Hawks by 43 points and held them to just 10 and 11 points in the third and fourth quarters. But it was the fourth quarter of Game 2 where the Hawks, who had just come off a strong start after the half and held the lead, just fell apart, losing to Orlando 112-98 and dropping 2-0 heading back home.”
- Lang Whitaker of SLAM ONLINE praises the Magic: “Jokes aside, the Magic are playing really well right now. Really, really well. Last night in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semis, the Hawks played about as well as they could play for long stretches and they still couldn’t build a double-digit lead. Then, in the fourth quarter, the Magic clamped down defensively and outscored Atlanta 28-15 to get the win. The Magic have so many weapons, from Dwight to Jameer to Vince to Rashard [Lewis], and each guy had a turn last night. [...] Orlando has a better, deeper roster than Atlanta, and when the game was on the line, they were a better team. They really just squeezed Atlanta out of it in the fourth quarter. I’m curious to see how the Hawks respond in Atlanta, where they beat Orlando they last time they played. I still think Cleveland is the team to beat in the East, but if Orlando wins it again I won’t be surprised.”
- Eric Freeman of The Baseline wonders if Orlando is now the team to beat in the playoffs: “The importance of matchups is an important reminder that asking which team is the favorite is in many ways a fool’s errand. A lot can change between now and the Finals. If you remember, last season at this time most people assumed that LeBron and Kobe would face off to decide who was the best player in the league. So yes, praise the Magic for playing as well as they have so far, but don’t jump the gun and start proclaiming them the team to beat. Wide-eyed speculation can only get you in trouble, and you can be sure Orlando’s only looking at the Hawks right now. It’s a cliche, but you have to take it one game at a time.”
- Fran Vazquez update: “It’s teammate Fran Vazquez who is more of an NBA-caliber player. At 6-11, Vazquez has very long arms and very good mobility, which allowed him to block 1.1 shots in just 17.5 minutes per game in Euroleague play. With good hands and finishing ability, plus surprising shooting range, Vazquez is also a factor in both the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop games. Unfortunately for Stateside fans, the 2005 lottery pick still shows no signs of making the jump from Europe to the NBA. I strongly believe he could be an effective NBA big man if he ever came over.”
In Game 2 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, one of the major storylines following the Orlando Magic’s victory against the Atlanta Hawks was the phenomenal performances of Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard, and Vince Carter — each of them were brilliant. It’s very rare when the four All-Stars for the Magic play well in unison with each other offensively but when they do, and last night was one of the instances, they form a devastating quartet that’s arguably unmatched in the NBA.
See for yourself.
As seen on ESPN’s Daily Dime.
After the Atlanta Hawks’ 43-point loss at the hands of the Orlando Magic in Game 1, it was widely assumed that Game 2 would be a more competitive contest between the two teams from the Southeast Division. And it was … for approximately three quarters. However, the Magic went to another gear in the fourth quarter and were able to defeat the Hawks by the score of 112-98 thanks in large part to the excellent performances of the four All-Stars on the roster — Vince Carter, Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Jameer Nelson.
Each player shouldered the load at different junctures in the game but after a slow start in the first half, Carter exploded in the second half by scoring 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting (he finished 9-for-16 with 24 points and seven rebounds) and helped carry Orlando in the fourth quarter by running a simple play that caused problems for Atlanta.
The pick and roll.
From the start of the final period up until the last minutes, Carter ran the pick and roll with Howard to perfection. Carter did a great job of being a playmaker for the Magic, looking to pass or score whenever possible. When Carter was looking to score, he was almost always aggressive attacking the basket and showing off glimpses of Vinsanity with a few highlight-reel dunks that excited the crowd at Amway Arena. When Carter was looking to pass, he was able to jumpstart the offense by finding the open man or triggering the same type of ball movement that was the death knell for the Hawks in Game 1.
All in all, Carter has settled into a groove and has scored 20 points or more in three consecutive playoff games dating back to Game 4 against the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round. However, Carter’s performance against Atlanta in Game 2 has been his best game so far in the postseason because he was efficient offensively and his shot selection was very good. Carter, for the most part, strayed away from taking long two-point jumpers and instead operated either in the paint or behind the three-point line.
When Carter optimizes his offense in that manner, he becomes a deadly offensive player for the Magic. Game 2 was a prime example.