Hawks Finally Knock Off Magic


After getting off to an excellent start, the Magic couldn’t buy a bucket before staging a fourth quarter rally, tying the game on a Vince Carter three-point with 9.9 seconds to go. Unfortunately for the Magic, after Joe Johnson’s shot rimmed out with one second to go, no one boxed out Josh Smith and he threw down a put-back dunk giving the Hawks an 86-84 victory. Carter finished the game with 19 points while Jameer Nelson led the Magic with 20 points and 8 assists. Dwight Howard grabbed 24 rebounds in the loss. Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 17 points.

NBA Stats

NBA Stats


After the game, Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy sounded pleased with his team’s effort. He admitted that the Hawks outplayed them for a good portion of the game but was very happy with the way Orlando fought back and praised both team’s defenses.

This was not a pretty game to watch. Neither offense could really get much going. Orlando raced out to a 15-2 lead, but quickly let it disappear and found themselves down four at the half. Orlando shot just 27-of-72 from the field, had an effective field goal percentage of only 41.6% and turned the ball over 13 times, including eight in the first half. The Hawks weren’t much better. They shot 31-of-76 from the field and had an effective field goal percentage of 45.3%.

Both defenses played pretty well. And the Magic rebounded especially well. They gave up just two offensive rebounds in the first 47 minutes and 59 seconds, but of course, Atlanta’s third offensive rebound was Smith’s put-back dunk.

After three good games in a row, Lewis was the goat. He was just 2-of-9 from the field and 0-4 from downtown. He did managed to grab 5 rebounds and dish out 3 assists, which was good to see, but he scored just 6 points and allowed the biggest play of the game to happen.

Rashard Lewis simply didn’t box Josh Smith out and Van Gundy was clearly unhappy with that effort after the Magic played excellent defense against Hawks’ sharpshooter Joe Johnson on the final possession.

Dwight Howard couldn’t get into much of a rhythm on the offensive end. He turned the ball over five times and shot just 4-of-11 from the field but he did do some other things very well. He was an absolute monster on the boards. Howard grabbed 24 rebounds. He also overcame some early foul trouble and finished the game with only three fouls. Howard had some early struggles from the free throw line but made all six of his fourth quarter free throw attempts to finish 11-of-16 from the charity stripe.

Jameer Nelson also did an excellent job late in the game. Nelson ran the offense very efficiently in the final quarter and had a good all-around game finishing with 20 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds. Nelson did have some issues – he turned the ball four times and took some ill-advised shots (although in at least two situations, he had to launch a bad shot because the shot clock was expiring).

Vince Carter, who was fairly quiet for the most of the game, nearly was the hero. Carter scored 8 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including Orlando’s final 5 points. He blew by Al Horford for an easy two handed dunk with 17 seconds to play to cut the lead to one. After Joe Johnson’s free throws put the Hawks back up three, Carter drilled a long three-pointer to tie the game with 9.9 seconds left. Carter played excellent defense and forced Joe Johnson to miss a tough shot on the game’s final play before Smith’s put-back. Carter also had 4 assists and was without a turnover. It was a very good sign to see Carter embrace his role as the Magic’s late-game go-to scorer and be so effective in that role.

Orlando got next to nothing from their bench. They managed just 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting and Mickael Pietrus, who was 2-of-3 from the field, re-injured his ankle and had to leave the game. He played just nine minutes. If you take away his scoring, the bench was just 2-of-12 and scored 7 points. On the other hand, the Hawks’ bench provided 24 points.

Game Notes:

  • It was only Orlando’s second loss in their last 13 games.
  • Orlando outscored the Hawks in the pain 30-24.
  • The Hawks had 14 fast break points to the Magic’s 4.
  • Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford continued to struggle against the Magic, combining to shoot just 9-of-31 from the field.
  • Josh Smith not only made the put-back dunk, but he hit a long jumper and blocked a J.J. Redick shot late in the fourth quarter.
  • It was the second time Orlando lost on a last second put back (Michael Beasley).

Next Up: The Magic will return home to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Final Thought: It’s a tough way to lose, but the Magic still lead the Hawks by 3.5 games and hold the tiebreaker with just 11 games left to play.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks and Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).