Orlando’s Dominant Fourth Quarter


The Orlando Magic completely dominated the final quarter of Game 2, outscoring the Atlanta Hawks 28-15, including a 21-3 run, to earn a  112-98 victory and take a 2-0 series lead.

Just how good were the Magic?  Orlando shot 9-of-15 from the field (60.0%), 4-of-7 from beyond the arc (57.1%) and 6-of-10 from the free throw line. Their effective field goal percentage was 73.3%. The Hawks, on the other hand shot an abysmal 5-of-21 from the field (23.8%), 0-of-4 from beyond the arc and missed their only free throw of the entire game (they were an impressive 30-of-31 from the stripe).

After moving the ball around much better and being much more aggressive in getting to the basket throughout the game, the Hawks went right back to their old ways in fourth quarter. It was all isolations again.

Of the Hawks 21 field goal attempts in the fourth quarter, only five were at the rim, two of which came on offense rebounds. Vince Carter blocked Marvin Williams’s put-back attempt and both Williams and Josh Smith missed put-backs. Smith also had  a layup blocked by Rashard Lewis. Jamal Crawford’s layup with 3:29 to go was Atlanta’s only made basket at the rim in the final quarter.

And despite that layup, Crawford was the most guilty party when it came to inefficiency in the fourth quarter Thursday night. Crawford shot 1-of-7 in the quarter. He missed both of his three-point attempts and missed four two-point jump shots. 12 of the Hawks 21 fourth quarter shot attempts were jumpers and they hit just four of them.

During Orlando’s 21-3 run, the Hawks missed a 13-foot jumper, a 20-foot jumper, a 3-pointer, an 11-foot jumper, a Marvin Williams’ layup that was blocked by Vince Carter, a 16-foot jumper, a 9-foot jumper, a tip-shot, made a 13-foot jumper, missed an 11-foot jumper and missed another 11-foot jumper.

That’s 1-of-11 shooting with nine of the attempts coming on two-point jump  shots.

The Magic, as they often are, were a model for efficiency. During the same span, Orlando shot 7-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. They attempted just one shot from between 10 feet and the 3-point line, an open 19-foot jumper that Rashard Lewis made.

Throughout the entire fourth quarter, Orlando took only three jump shots between 16 and 23 feet and for the most part either got to the basket or got good looks from beyond the arc.

Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy said the Magic simply made the Hawks work. Orlando also outrebounded Atlanta 13-9 and assisted on five of their nine field goals, while the Hawks assisted on just two of their five field goals.

“I thought we did a better job in the fourth and our guys got into the fight a little bit more, on the boards and defensively, which is what we’re going to have to do,” Van Gundy said.

Jameer Nelson’s buzzer-beating running 3-pointer which answered a 3-pointer by Jamal Crawford, gave the Magic a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and really seemed to spark the team

“That was big,” Nelson said. “He(Crawford) had hit the three in my face and you know, as a competitor, I just wanted to go back at him. But there wasn’t enough time so I had to do it in traffic.”

Hawks Coach Mike Woodson thought Nelson’s shot completely changed the momentum.

“That’s a big momentum shot for them going into the fourth quarter,” Woodson told reporters. “I thought it was a big shot for them. We just didn’t have anything left in the fourth quarter for them.”

“We have to be able to finish games out,” Hawks Forward Josh Smith said. “The fourth quarter turned up to another level and we stayed at where we were at.”

Vince Carter was Orlando’s fourth quarter hero. Carter, operating primarily in the pick-and-roll, scored 11 fourth quarter points while shooting 90.0% on effective field goals. He grabbed three rebounds, dished out an assist and had a key block of a Marvin Williams’ layup.

“I thought he did a great job down the stretch making plays out of the pick-and-roll,” Van Gundy said.

Carter has always relished in the late game role.

“He’s a confident guy,” Van Gundy explained. “He’s been in that position many many times in his career. And basically every play he made down the stretch was a good play, the right play.”

“I thought he did a heck of a job,” he added.

Carter’s teammates were also impressed.

“I thought Vince did a good job of controller the game, distributing the ball, getting guys open shots,” Rashard Lewis told reporters.

This is exactly how Carter explained his role as the “closer.”

“I consider a closer not only a guy who makes shots, but makes plays and makes it easier for his team and puts pressure on the opponent,” Carter explained. “That was more so my mentality and has been my mentality, just being patient and that’s who I’ve been for a long time.”

Carter’s teammates believe that he has the ability to come up big like that every night.

“They trust that when I have the ball, I’ll make the right play whatever that may be,” Carter added.

The Magic made all the right plays down the stretch on Thursday night.

(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).