Magic Dominate Hawks 114-71, Take 1-0 Series Lead


The Orlando Magic absolutely dominated the Altanta Hawks in every phase of the game, cruising to a 114-71 victory on Tuesday night. The Magic blew open a close first quarter with a 28-10 second quarter and never looked back. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. Josh Smith led the Hawks with 14 points.

NBA Stats

NBA Stats


How bad did it get? Anthony Johnson and Brandon Bass combined to play 11 minutes and scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting.

The Magic held the Hawks to 35.8% effective field goal shooting, forced 15 turnovers and outrebounded the Hawks 53-35, limiting one of the league’s elite offensive rebounding teams to just 10 offensive boards. The Magic shot an effective field goal percentage of 57.7% and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, leading to 18 second chance points.

During the second and third quarters, the Magic went on a 58-17 run, turning a 27-27 tie into an 85-44 advantage. Throughout the run, the Magic put on a passing clinic with fantastic ball movement, ranging from drive and kicks, to players hitting the man cutting to the basket, to alley-oops. During the third quarter, Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard ran the pick-and-roll to near-perfection. On one play, Howard got an easy dunk and that led the Hawks to decide to stick with Howard, giving Nelson the open lane to the basket and he finished with an open layup. The Hawks couldn’t seem to decide in what way they wanted to defend the play.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Hawks had horrible ball movement. They had no real direction on offense, constantly running isolation plays for Joe Johnson and their other scorers. Often times, these plays went absolutely nowhere and the Hawks wound up taking contested jump shots late in the shot clock. Overall, the Hawks took way too many long jumpers. If the Hawks continue to run their offense like this, it’s going to be difficult for them to stay competitive at all.

The Magic are prone to letting big leads slip away and turning should-be blowouts into tight finishes. That didn’t happen on Tuesday night. The Magic showed off the “killer instinct” that national pundits think they lack, stomping on the throat of the Hawks and earning a 43-point victory.

The issue of rust vs. rest has been quickly put to bed. All of the Magic players talked about how hard they worked in practice over the last eight days and Dwight Howard said that Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy “did a good job of making sure we were ready to play.”

Coming into the series, Dwight Howard’s foul trouble was the main topic of conversation and most thought that if Howard didn’t play more minutes, the Magic would be in trouble. Usually, that’s going to be the case, but on Tuesday, it was not. Howard played just under 29 minutes and put up on 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting. He also grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked five shots. Best of all? Howard only picked one foul before halftime and had just three total fouls in the game. He also only turned the ball over twice and did a good job of passing out of double teams. Howard was called for a very iffy offensive foul in the first quarter and instead of getting frustrated, he kept his composure.  Rather than picking up another cheap foul like he sometimes does, Howard moved on and turned up his play, helping the Magic make that big run. Howard said that he wants to play a much smarter game but still wants to be aggressive.

“I try to be aggressive but at the same time be smart,” Howard told reporters after the game. Howard also said he was trying to “keep his head free and clear.”

Howard did all of that on Tuesday night.

The efforts of Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson should not be overlooked. Orlando’s starting backcourt combined to score 39 points. Carter had a poor second quarter that saw him shoot 0-of-5 from the field, but outside of that, he played well. He finished the game with 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting. He did a better job of getting into the paint and looked for his teammates more often. Carter’s play of the night might have been when he drove into the lane and dished the ball to an open Jameer Nelson, who drilled a 3-pointer. Nelson picked up right where he left off in the Charlotte series. He scored 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, made three of his five 3-point attempts and had five assists.

As dominate as the performance was, the Magic know there is a lot of work left to do. None of the Magic players got too caught up in the victory, repeating the phrase “it’s only game 1” over and over again. Stan Van Gundy thought Orlando’s defense could and should play better, citing the fact that the Hawks missed some good looks that usually go down. He used the combined 7-of-34 (20.6%) shooting performance by Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Jamal Crawford and Mike Bibby to make his point.

Game Notes:

  • Despite complaints about ticket sales, the crowd was very good tonight. They were loud and even started a chant of “We want A.J.” in reference to third string Point Guard Anthony Johnson.
  • Rashard Lewis was aggressive and active early and although he finished with just nine points, it was good to see him grab seven rebounds, including a put-back dunk.
  • Ryan Anderson was very active around the basket. He finished with six rebounds and tipped a couple more out to his teammates.
  • The Magic set a franchise playoff record for fewest points allowed in a second quarter by letting the Hawks score just 10 points in the second quarter. The Magic also set a third quarter record by holding the Hawks to 11 points.
  • The Magic are now 11-11 all time in game 1’s. The Magic are 9-1 when they win game 1.
  • Orlando’s 43-point victory was the second largest playoff margin in franchise history. They defeated the Boston Celtics by 47, 124-77, in 1995.
  • The Magic have won 46 straight games when shooting over 50% from the field.
  • The Magic are now 5-1 all time against the Hawks in the postseason. They defeated the Hawks 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 1996 postseason.
  • Dwight Howard hit his playoff average for blocked shots with five.

Next Up: The Magic will host the Hawks on Thursday night in game 2.

Final Thought: So much for rust hurting the Magic.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at 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).