The Orlando Magic rallied from a 14-point deficit and had a one-point lead late in the game but let a win slip through their fingers, falling to the Hawks 88-84. They now trail the best of seven series 2-1. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 21 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks while Jamal Crawford’s 23 points led the Hawks.
The Magic got off to a very poor start in the first quarter, turning the ball over on their first possession and allowing the Hawks to get off to a 9-2 lead. The Magic settled down on defense, started going to the basket and got a few timely three-pointers. They ended the quarter on an 8-2 run to tie the game at 25. The Magic shot surprisingly well (9-of-15, 60.0%) in the quarter but allowed the Hawks to shoot 11-of-20 (55.0%). The second quarter started in a similar fashion. The Magic decided to leave Howard on the bench and the Hawks started the quarter on an 11-3 run to take a 36-28 lead. Howard returned and the Magic cut the lead to four, only to see the Hawks go on an 11-1 run to push their lead to 14. The Magic answered with a 9-2 run before a Josh Smith jumper with two seconds to go pushed the lead back to 51-42. Joe Johnson had 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting in the first half.
The Magic came out with a lot more energy in the second half and started the quarter on a 13-4 run to tie the game at 55. With the game tied at 57, J.J. Redick’s three rimmed out of the basket and the Hawks got out in transition, leading to a Josh Smith three-point play, a six-point swing. The Magic tied it again on a Turkoglu three-pointer but the Hawks closed the quarter well to take a four-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Magic started the final quarter on a 7-2 run, which included back-to-back threes by Jameer Nelson and Quentin Richardson to give Orlando a 69-68 lead. With the Magic up two, the all-time leader in four-point plays added another one as Jamal Crawford gave the Hawks a two-point lead. That sparked a 10-0 Hawks run that gave them a 79–71 lead. The Magic fought back to cut the lead to two before a melee broke out between Zaza Pachulia and Jason Richardson. Jameer Nelson’s jumper gave the Magic an 82-81 lead. Two free throws gave the Hawks the lead back. Bass drilled a wide open jumper off of a good find from Turkoglu to get the lead back. Horford’s jumper gave Atlanta the lead right back. On the next possession, Turkoglu took a ridiculous step back three that was way too long and Jamal Crawford’s bank three-pointer won the game.
After the jump, you can read thoughts, quotes and observations from the game.
After clawing their way back into the game during the second quarter, the Magic almost shot themselves completely out of the game in the second. They started the quarter by shooting 2-of-17 (11.7%) from the field and shot 5-of-21 (23.8%) overall in the quarter. The Hawks, on the other hand stayed hot, shooting 12-of-22 (54.5%). The Magic couldn’t stop Joe Johnson. He wasn’t just feeling it from the outside, either. He made an excellent effort to get the basket and hit several runners in the lane.
The Magic came out with a lot of energy in the third quarter and used an 11-2 run to tie the game. They held the Hawks to just 5-of-20 shooting (25.0%) but a few mistakes, which included a technical foul because of a three-second violation and two three-point plays kept the Hawks in the lead.
The Magic couldn’t stop Joe Johnson. He wasn’t just feeling it from the outside, either. He made an excellent effort to get the basket and hit several runners in the lane. Johnson had a nine-point first quarter and an eight-point second quarter to lead the Hawks to a nine-point halftime advantage. In the second half, Johnson was quiet. The Magic made some adjustments and held him to just four second half points, but the Hawks had another wing take over for him.
Overall, Orlando’s defense was good in the second half but their offense and shooting just can’t catch up. They continued to struggle from beyond the arc despite getting some good looks. They were 8-of-28 (28.6%) from beyond the arc.
Jamal Crawford has been unbelievable and is in one of, if the not the best, stretch of his career. The shots he’s been putting in are just incredible and you can add his long, bank three-pointer to the list. He had 23 points on 7-of-19 shooting.
The Magic got some other contributions. Jason Richardson had 14 points. Quentin Richardson was 3-of-3 from beyond the arc off the bench and Brandon Bass scored 10 points, which included a pivotal jumper that gave Orlando a late lead.
Hedo Turkoglu has to be better. He’s missing some good looks but is taking terrible shots and at times, making baffling decisions with the ball. The fourth quarter was a prime example. Turkoglu made a nice drive and found a wide open Brandon Bass to give Orlando a one-point lead. After the Hawks regained the lead, Turkoglu took a step-back three-point with 12 seconds left on the shot clock an Al Horford on him. After the game, Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said he can’t “get Turk to shoot the ball when he’s open” and that his last shot was “horrible.” Turkoglu finished with nine points on 3-of-11 shooting.
Dwight Howard had a tough night but still managed to put up big numbers. He had 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, grabbed 15 rebounds and three blocks. He still needs to control his fouls. Pachulia gave him dirty shots all night but Howard’s elbow was just plain stupid. He needs to control himself better, which brings me to my next point.
Yes, Zaza Pachulia is a flopper. Yes, he’s a dirty player. Yes, he’s an all-around tool. And yes Zaza started the fight, but Jason Richardson can’t lose his cool like that in such a big situation. The Magic need Richardson and he not only was tossed from the game with the Magic down two and 2:32 to play. You have to keep your head in that situation when you’re a veteran like Richardson and he didn’t.
Next Up: Game 4 is Sunday in Atlanta.
Final Thought: It’s way too early to call this series but with Jason Richardson suspended, the Magic are in a lot of trouble going into a virtual must-win game 4. If it helps anyone (and it probably shouldn’t since these are two totally different teams), the Magic lost game 3 to Philadelphia in 2009 in similar fashion (a Thaddeus Young buzzer beater) and went on to win three straight games.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger 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).
Topics: Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks, Brandon Bass, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Kirk Hinrich, Larry Drew, Marvin Williams, Orlando Magic, Quentin Richardson, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy