ORLANDO, Fla. — After the fans filed out of Amway Center, they did so knowing one thing.
The Playoffs will go on.
In a must-win situation, the Orlando Magic live to fight another day, defeating the Atlanta Hawks 101-76 on Tuesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round.
It was a different kind of team, a team that Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy referred to as a “good shooting team.”
Well…that good shooting team went missing for several games in the series, but found their rhythm at the most probable — and important — time.
Game 4 saw the Magic shoot 39.2 percent from the field and a disturbing 2 for 23 from 3-point range.
“I think this is more us than what we did for four games,” Van Gundy said.
While both teams got off to troubling starts, the Magic was able to get things going on the floor by the unheralded performance from J.J. Redick. In just four minutes and 36 seconds of playing time in the first period, Redick went 5 for 5 from the field, scoring 11 points and surprisingly not shooting a 3-pointer. It was a coming out party for the three-point specialist. He missed 17 games in March due to a strained a muscle in his lower abdomen over a month ago, but had a golden performance on this night.
The Magic, as a team, got their shot back. They combined to shoot 41 percent, including 11 of 26 from beyond the arc. Jason Richardson led the scoring with 17 points, while Ryan Anderson added 11 in addition to Redick’s 14.
The offense regained its shooting stroke hiding a quiet game from Orlando’s superstar.
Prior to Game 5, Dwight Howard had scored at least 20 points in every game of the series, averaging 32 points per game. The team did not need him to go above and beyond tonight. Howard was relatively quiet and in a good way. He scored eight points and only one score came from a field goal. Howard got into foul trouble early and sat on the bench for about 19 minutes. But it did not hurt the team’s performance.
A key for the Magic was protecting the ball. Orlando turned the ball over just six times and forced Atlanta into 13 turnovers for 13 Orlando points. The Magic also attacked the paint often and with success, scoring 30 points on 15-for-31 shooting in the paint. Give Orlando credit for outscoring Atlanta 18-5 on second chance points.
“We just played the way we should have been playing the whole series,” said Howard. “But you know, thank God we got a victory tonight.”
The Magic must now go back to Atlanta, where they were close to stealing a win at the Phillips Center.