In what must have been one of the most poorly played games of the young NBA season, the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Orlando Magic 80-74. It was just an ugly game to watch. Neither the Magic (37.8%) or the Hawks (38.8%) could shoot and the Magic turned the ball over 17 times to Atlanta’s 11. The Magic did manage to cut the lead to 3 on Vince Carter’s 3-point play with just over 40 seconds to play, but the Magic lost Mike Bibby on the following play and he nailed a game-clinching 3-pointer. The Magic were led by Carter’s 18 points while the Hawks were paced by Josh Smith’s 19 points and 11 rebounds.
- Stan Van Gundy was at a loss for words early in his press conference, starting by saying “I really don’t know what to say about that one.” He went on to call the game an “extremely low energy game” and said “It was a bad basketball game and we played worse than they did.” He wouldn’t give Atlanta a whole lot of credit and gave his team absolutely none, saying that he, his staff and his players were “terrible.”
- Van Gundy took the blame for Mike Bibby’s game-clinching 3-pointer, saying that he should have seen it coming and should have told his players what to do.
- Van Gundy made it sound bad and it was, but he wouldn’t hang his head, saying “The team was awful, I was awful, but that doesn’t mean I’m leaving here down in the dumps.”
- Just about every part of Orlando’s offense was awful. They went just 4-of-22 from beyond, 14-of-21 from the free throw line and turned the ball over 17 times. The Magic had maybe the worst ball movement of the yea and at times looked more like the Hawks of old, going one-on-one far too many times.
- Van Gundy told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel he wouldn’t find a bright spot as Robbins looked at the stat sheet, saying that he already looked and didn’t find one. It’s tough but maybe you can point to the struggling Chris Duhon. He had one of his better games of the year and endeared himself to the crowd when he got in front of a pass then dove into the crowd to save the ball that led to an easy layup for J.J. Redick.
- Quentin Richardson and Mickael Pietrus combined scoreless on 0-of-7 shooting and only Rashard Lewis, when playing alongside Brandon Bass, gave Orlando any production out of the 3 spot. And that production wasn’t much. Lewis played more at the 4 and scored just 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting.
- Vince Carter scored 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting. He also grabbed 8 boards but overall he needed to go the basket even more – he was effective when he did, including the 3-point play that got Orlando back into the game.
- Dwight Howard looked a little tired and a little rusty after being sick and managed to score just 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting. He of course managed to gab his usual 13 rebounds but he turned the ball over 6 times and wasn’t quite himself. After the game, he said he was more tired than usual after the game and thought he just needed to get back into his normal routine.
- The Hawks weren’t very good either but did make some big shots when they needed to. Howard mentioned the Hawks have better ball movement with Joe Johnson is out of the game, adding to the controversy about the Hawks being better without Johnson that’s seemingly brewing in Atlanta. Johnson is a fantastic scorer and I think the Hawks need a go-to-guy like him to even compete with the upper echelon of the league but the way they use him is not going to get them any further in the postseason.
- The Hawks were obviously excited after the game, calling the win “huge.”
Next Up: The Magic will head to the west coast and take on the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night that will be televised nationally on TNT.
Final Thought: That was just an awful game. Don’t expect many more performances like that.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, co-host of CB Sports Radio from 5-7 pm week days (1420sports.com) and ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). 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).