The Orlando Magic fell behind the Atlanta Hawks by 17 at the half and despite a large second half comeback, fell to the Hawks 83-78.
Josh Smith had another big game, dropping 22 points and 12 rebounds on the Magic. The Hawks also got a combined 29 points from Willie Green and Jannero Pargo off of the bench. The Magic were led by J.J. Redick’s team-high 13 points while Dwight Howard had just 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Each team played a different role in each half. The Magic were awful in the first half, scoring just 30 points, including an embarrassing second quarter in which they scored just 10 points and turned the ball over six times. The Hawks put up 18 second quarter points and increased their nine-point lead to 17 at the break. The Hawks looked about as bad in the third quarter, scoring just 11 points in the period. The Magic had a big quarter, scoring 25 points and cutting the lead to just three at the end of the quarter. The Magic cut the lead to one, but didn’t execute well enough down the stretch.
- Jameer Nelson was scratched from the lineup with a knee injury, leaving the Magic with Chris Duhon and Ish Smith at point guard. Smith provided a spark, scoring eight points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists, but Duhon scored just six points on 3-of-9 shooting, picked up five fouls and turned the ball over twice.
- Hedo Turkoglu started shooting the ball again and that didn’t work out. Turkoglu scored just 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting and hoisted up way too many bad shots. Jason Richardson, in his return, had just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting. The Magic can’t beat playoff teams when their wings play like that.
- Atlanta continued to frustrate Dwight Howard, who only attempted seven shots and five free throws. Howard only picked up one foul, so there were a lot of problems – Howard should have demanded the ball more and been more aggressive once he got it, but the Magic did a terrible job of getting him the ball. Zaza Pachulia continues to frustrate Howard (and he also grabbed 13 rebounds).
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)