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Orlando Magic News & Notes: Magic Take 2-0 Lead


The Orlando Magic came back to win Game 2 against the Atlanta Hawks 112-98 to take a 2-0 series lead.

Vince Carter led the comeback.

"With the Magic locked into a struggle the polar opposite of the 43-point win in Game 1, Carter came through when Orlando needed him most. He had 11 fourth-quarter points and 20 of his 24 after halftime as the Magic pulled away from Atlanta for a 112-98 victory.“Generally, my idea of a closer is someone who not only makes shots, but also makes plays for everybody else too,’’ said Carter, who made eight of 12 shots in the second half and four of five in the fourth quarter. “Closing games has always been a mentality of mine. It’s who I have been for a long time. They trust me to make the right play, and I just try to make it happen.’’"

You can read John Denton’s postgame analysis here.

The Magic came alive in the second half.

"With Howard back and no longer bleeding, Game 2 bloomed into something that Game 1 was not: A thrilling rooftop chase, the teams trading leads on big shots for the rest of the third quarter.Jamal Crawford, he of the 1-of-11 nightmare in the opener, made a rainbow 3-pointer to put Atlanta ahead 83-81 with 5.3 seconds left.Nelson topped that. He hit a running, 29-footer before the horn, the crowd-jarring 3-pointer handing Orlando an 84-83 lead to begin the final quarter."

Brian Schmitz has that story here.

Dwight Howard stepped up in Game 2 but he was careful.

"“I think sometimes you’ve got to show the other team that they’re not just going to come down the lane,” Howard said. “But at the same time, you’ve got to be smart, and there were some of those plays where they were just driving right at me, and the only thing I could’ve did was get a foul. So, I just tried to stay away from it.”The Orlando center finished with a game-high 29 points and a game-high 17 rebounds in a dominant performance reminiscent of his play in last year’s postseason.But Howard knew when to pick his spots on the defensive end of the floor. In the first quarter alone, he did not challenge a dunk by Josh Smith, a dunk by Marvin Williams or a layup by Jason Collins."

Josh Robbins has that story here.

Jameer Nelson continued his excellent postseason.

"I love this guy’s energy. His drives to the basket — especially when he takes a quick baseline bounce to the rim and often just passes through to the other side — add a wonderful spontaneous touch to the business of running an offense.No big beef here with the way things shook out for Nelson when the All-NBA team was announced Thursday. Thirty guys are jockeying for six slots. But has there been a point guard more important than Nelson in these playoffs?It’s great to see him back, peppy and prideful, after his disastrous run at the playoffs last season."

George Diaz has that story here.

Orlando seems to have too many weapons for the Hawks.

"“We had nothing left for the fourth quarter,” Woodson said. “Unfortunately, you have to play all fourth quarters to win against this team.”The Hawks should have seen it coming. They were playing almost flawlessly through the first three quarters when they held a 10-rebound advantage, hit all 25 of their free throws and six of their seven 3-pointers — and still trailed.“The Magic are just so well put together,” said Hawks forward Marvin Williams. “They had threes coming from everywhere. They force you to pick your poison. I thought we were playing well, but it wasn’t good enough. It’s frustrating.”"

Tim Povtak has that story here.

It was all Magic down the stretch.

"After they managed to score just 21 total points in the second and third quarters in Game 1, the Hawks scored 27 in the first quarter and 30 in the second. The Hawks trailed 88-87 when two free throws by Howard started the decisive run.Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus made 3-pointers, sandwiched around Rashard Lewis’ basket, for a 98-87 Magic lead. Crawford missed four consecutive shots during the Hawks’ scoring lull, including two on one possession.Johnson finally scored with 7:02 to play to make it 98-89. But Orlando finished the Hawks with a 9-0 run fueled by 3-pointers from Carter and Nelson."

Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has that story here.

The Hawks played better Thursday but it still wasn’t good enough.

"And that’s what made Game 2 even more distressing than the egregious Game 1. The Hawks gave it something approximating their best shot — or at least as a good a shot as they’re apt to muster in a playoff road game — and still couldn’t extend the Magic to the wire. They got 24 points and 10 rebounds from Al Horford. They deployed four centers to shotgun their fouls against Dwight Howard. They made 30 of 31 free throws, the miss coming in the fourth quarter.And still: Magic 112, Hawks 98.It’s one thing to get blown out on a bad night. It’s worse to have a chance after three quarters and then have none halfway through the fourth. It suggests the Hawks, for all their resources, are simply in against an opponent that has more — more ways to win, more guys to score big (four Magic men reached 20 this night), more of whatever is required to win in the postseason."

Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has that story here.

Peachtree Hoops was not happy with Josh Smith.

"Josh SmithIt is fitting that the man was -24 for the game (worst on the team). Sure the final stats look ok, but he may have single handedly cost the game with fake injuries, pouting, lack of effort, and turnovers. Listen, I love Josh Smith, but he has no make up switch. There exists nothing in his person that inspires a vendetta like atmosphere on his own horrible actions. Josh is always right, and when he is wrong, it clearly does not matter. That is his mindset. I have never seen an above average starter play less like it was playoff basketball in my life than Josh did tonight. For all the Atlanta pride he speaks of and righteous gripes about talent under utilized, there was no excuse for Josh, and he has no reason to hold his head high when he dominates next year in January. This city will not get behind his poor effort, his fake fouls, his pouting. We pay money to watch you be great Josh. Intentionally being horrible is unacceptable. It is insulting. It makes people not show up to see that brilliance in Janurary. And that my friend is why you did not make an all-star game, and that is why you did not deserve to."

You can read that story here.

The Hawks are happy to be heading back home.

"Atlanta forward Josh Smith, pleaded into an Atlanta television station’s camera.“Come support us,” Smith said. “Please, please. Sell it out like they sold out this arena.”That excitement makes sense after two double-digit losses to the Magic in Orlando – one an historic 43-point blowout. Atlanta returns home down 2-0 to the defending Eastern Conference champions."

Tania Ganguli has that story here.

Mike Bianchi thinks the Magic are now the favorite.

"Why are they the team to beat, you ask? Well, let’s start with this: Because nobody’s beaten them. Because they are the only unbeaten team left in the playoffs.The Lakers struggled against Oklahoma City in the first round. The Cavs have already lost homecourt advantage against the Celtics in the second round. Two other flavor du jours out west – the Mavs and the Nuggets – have already been iced out of the playoffs.The Magic? All they’ve done is win … and win … and win some more. In fact, they haven’t lost a game in more than month. They’ve won 12 straight dating back to a regular-season loss at San Antonio on April 2.The Magic have washed over their opponents like a Louisiana oil spill. They’ve suffocated their opponents like an Icelandic volcano cloud. They’ve made their opponents look more perplexed than a Greek stockbroker."

You can find that story here.

(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).