Magic Force Game 6 With Blowout Win Over Hawks


The Orlando Magic rode a late first quarter wave and cruised to an easy 101-76 victory to force game 6 in Atlanta Thursday night. Jason Richardson led the Magic with 17 points while Josh Smith had a game-high 22 points to lead the Hawks.

Early on, the game was extremely sloppy. Missed jump shots plagued both teams in the first five or so minutes of the game. Jameer Nelson’s back-to-back buckets ( a three-pointer and a pull-up 17-footer appeared to get the Magic going as it provided the spark they needed to start a 21-5 run that gave them a 15-point lead. They led 26-13 at the end of the first quarter. Orlando’s first quarter featured more shooting (9-of-25 from the field, 1-of-5 from beyond the arc) but the Magic got to the free throw line (7-of-8) and played great defense (Atlanta was 3-of-19 from the field) despite Dwight Howard playing just over six minutes because of foul trouble.

The Magic heated up in the second quarter pushing their lead to 23 by the 5:35 mark on a pull-up jumper by Gilbert Arenas and never looked back. In the quarter, Orlando scored 32 points on 11-of-20 shooting, made five of their eight three-pointers and got the line six times, hitting five of them. They also didn’t have a single turnover in the quarter.

After the jump, you can read thoughts, quotes and observations from the game.

This game is pretty simple to break down. The Magic played lock down defense, holding the Hawks to just 36.2% shooting for the game and made shots from beyond the arc (11-of-26, 42.3%). Orlando still just shot 34-of-83 from the field (41.0%). The Magic countered their poor two-point shooting by protecting the ball. They turned it over just six times with three of those turnovers coming in the fourth quarter when the game had long been decided and Chris Duhon, Earl Clark and Malik Allen had been deployed.

“We still didn’t shoot at a great percentage, we shot 41 percent for the game,” head coach Stan Van Gundy explained. “The biggest thing if you look at the offense tonight was we only had six turnovers… And we made threes.”

After going just 2-of-23 from beyond the arc in game 4, Orlando hit 11 three-pointers in game 5, outscoring the Hawks by 21 points from downtown.

J.J. Redick’s early play really got the Magic going. With Howard and Hedo Turkoglu both out because of foul trouble, Redick scored 11 first quarter points on 5-of-5 shooting. He had great energy and had a couple of flashy plays, including an up-and-under layup on a fast break. Redick only scored three more points in the game, but did his job in a first quarter that saw the Magic still struggling to make shots.

Gilbert Arenas couldn’t quite follow up his 20-point game 4 performance but he was again aggressive and still looked pretty good at times. He had a pretty inefficient night overall (nine points on 4-of-11 shooting) but he probably became a little trigger happy when the Magic got a big lead. Arenas needs to continue to play smart basketball, which he’s now done in two consecutive games. He did a nice job of getting the ball to open teammates but I would have liked to have seen him drive just a bit more (like he did Sunday night). The Hawks were leaving Arenas on pick-and-rolls with Dwight and he can burn them by hitting set jumpers and getting to the basket.

The most impressive thing about Orlando’s win was that Dwight Howard took just one shot and played on 28:58 due to early foul trouble and the Magic’s big lead. Most impressively, Orlando grabbed five more rebounds than the Hawks despite Howard bringing down just eight boards. Orlando’s forwards outside of Turkoglu grabbed a combined 20 rebounds (Brandon Bass 7, Ryan Anderson 7, Quentin Richardson 6).

No Magic player had more than 17 points and no player in the rotation (so everyone sans Allen, Clark and Duhon) scored less than seven.

The Magic tried to push the base a little bit more at points during the game and it paid off as they got out in transition and wound up with 13 fast break points. It also helped force the Hawks into 13 turnovers, which led to 13 Orlando points.

Ryan Anderson was third on the team with 11 points. He was aggressive and made some nice moves towards the inside but went 0-of-4 on his four two point shot attempts. He did, however, go 3-of-5 from the outside and made both of his free throws to finish with 11 points. With Orlando already in the lead, Anderson looked less timid and more confident.

Brandon Bass came out firing but he missed his first three shots. He bounced back on a big dunk attempt in which he was fouled by Zaza Pachulia. Bass finished with just nine points on eight shots but did pull down seven boards and even had a really block of an Al Horford jumper. He did the best job on Horford he’s done all series. Horford had just nine points on nine shots and although he did bring down 14 rebounds, he was ineffective on offense.

Speaking of Pachulia, he was booed every time he entered the game and could only muster a single rebounds in 20 minutes. Jason Collins played 14 minutes and grabbed just one board. That’s just two rebounds in over 34 minutes of play from your top two centers with Howard missing time with foul trouble.

Orlando’s returning player, Jason Richardson, was aggressive, looking to get to the basket early. He later on got comfortable behind his normal post – the three point line. He was just 6-of-14 from the field but shot 50% (3-of-6) from the outside and scored 17 points.

Orlando’s defense was very good. They got up into Atlanta’s shooters a little bit more, but frankly, Atlanta really just stopped making their difficult shots. It looks like things are regressing back to the mean.

Afterwards, Van Gundy reminded his players and the media they were still behind. In fact, on Orlando’s white board in the locker room, he wrote “3-2, still behind.”

Next Up: Game 6 is in Atlanta Thursday night.

Final Thought: Even if the Magic don’t make 11 threes, if they can continue to defend like this and just make some timely shots, they’ll have a good chance to bring this series back to Orlando for game 7.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080’s Magic Insider ( Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).