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Magic Close Out Hawks, Advance To Eastern Conference Finals


The Orlando Magic advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive season with a 98-84 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night. The victory finished off a four-game sweep of the Hawks. The Magic are now 8-0 during the 2010 postseason. The Magic had five players score in double figures led by Vince Carter’s 22 points. Jamal Crawford again led the Hawks with 18 points.


NBA Stats

NBA Stats

Orlando finished off the sweep with another big win. It was however, a little more difficult this time around. The Hawks showed a lot more fight and trailed by just eight at the half and by only nine at the end of the third quarter. The Magic started the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run and quickly turned their nine-point lead into an 18-point lead. The run ended with a monstrous dunk by Dwight Howard that served as the final knockout punch in the series. The Magic extended that lead to 21 before the Hawks scored the game’s final seven points.

Orlando let the Hawks stay within striking distance because of some defensive lapses. The Magic came out with much better energy in the second half, holding the Hawks to just 13 made field goals.

The Hawks continued their inefficient play, again taking long jumpers and running isolations for a large portion of the game. They just didn’t move the ball, while Orlando’s ball movement was excellent throughout the series. The Hawks shot an effective field goal percentage of just 42.5% while the Magic shot an incredible 67.6%. Orlando shot 16-of-37 from three and the Hawks made just three 3-pointers, giving the Magic a 39-point advantage from beyond the arc. The Hawks held an 11-point advantage from the free throw line but in no way could that make up for the 3-point disparity.

Vince Carter led the 3-point barrage, going 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. It looked like Carter hut his ankle in the second half, but later in the game, he seemed fine. He wound up scoring 22 points on an efficient 7-of-12 shooting. Mickael Pietrus was also excellent from downtown. Pietrus hit three second quarter 3-pointers, helping the Magic build a double-digit lead. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting, all of which were attempted from beyond the arc. Rashard Lewis hit four 3-pointers and continued his hot (or in his case, cold as ice) shooting by scoring 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

Jameer Nelson was fantastic. Again. Nelson scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and dished out a playoff career-high nine assists. Nelson was very smart with the ball and found several different ways to get the ball to his teammates. He had the most success when he drove into the lane and kicked the ball to an open shooter. It seemed like the Magic could have driven to the basket and kicked the ball out the entire game – the Hawks had no answer for it.

Dwight Howard didn’t put up incredible numbers. He scored just 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Howard didn’t get a lot of shot attempts but he sure was efficient with what he got. How efficient? Howard broke a record for field goal percentage in a seven game series by shooting 84.4%. He missed just five shots in the series and was a perfect 5-of-5 in Game 4. Defensively, he dominated the game again. TNT’s announcers, Matt Devlin and Kevin McHale continued to rave about the way Howard is able to alter shots. Howard finished four blocks on Tuesday. Howard had some big time turnover issues, giving it away seven times, but still made some good plays out of the double team, including a perfect pass to Rashard Lewis for an open 3-pointer after Josh Smith came to help on Howard.

Game Notes:

  • Orlando still had great energy and gave a good effort late in the game. Lewis even had a hustle block late in the game.
  • I have said some bad things about Jamal Crawford’s game and his often inefficient shot selection, but he is the one Hawk who deserves credit in this series. Crawford never quit. He played hard until the end of the series. With how embarrassing this series was for the Hawks, Crawford is one player that Hawks fans can be proud of.
  • The Magic outrebounded the Hawks 37-30.
  • Orlando had 27 assists on their 36 field goals while the Hawks assisted on 17 of their 30 field goals.
  • Only Zaza Pachulia and Mike Bibby shot over 50% for the Hawks and they each went just 2-of-3 from the field.
  • Joe Johnson capped off his terrible series with 14 points on 15 shots and was booed off the court when he was taken out in the fourth quarter.

Next Up: The Magic must play wait and see again because the Celtics and Cavaliers are tied at two games apiece. Their series will finish Thursday at the earliest.

Final Thought: The Magic won four games by a combined 101 points, which is an NBA record. Wow. Now, they can get some rest and let one of the best coaches in the game get them prepared for their next challenge.

(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).