– Maybe it’s as simple as the Magic has Dwight Howard and the Celtics don’t. But that’s not very helpful in contemplating the Hawks’ chances should they draw the Magic in the playoffs.
– “This game is all about matchups, and I think we match up well with everyone but them,” J.J. said. “They pretty much have their way with us.”
—- Al’s not big enough to handle Howard. Jason Collins and Zaza aren’t quick enough. Woody’s schemes haven’t been effective enough. “We’ve got to figure it out,” Woody said. “We’ll go back and look at the tapes and see how we can do a better job against him at our place (for the final meeting on March 24). He’s a load down there.”
– “We don’t know what looks to throw at him,” Smoove said. “When we tried trapping him we had success with it, but I think we waited too late in the game to do it.”
– “They just have our number right now,” Al said. “We have to figure them out. We have to do a better job inside in the post, starting with me.”
– As it stands now, I don’t see the answer for the Hawks against the Magic. Neither does J.J.: “I am sure the coaches will come up with something but I don’t know what to do.”
– The trading deadline is approaching. So far all signs suggest the Hawks believe they are set with this group. Wonder if the possibility of Howard lifting the Magic to the division title and then dominating the Hawks should they meet in the postseason changes that thinking.
– Or maybe that would be an overreaction. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy wouldn’t bite when asked if the Magic has the Hawks’ number: “It’s not like a playoff series. I just don’t buy it. They’re coming in on a back-to-back. There’s just a lot of factors.”
– A legitimate footnote: the Magic twice has caught the Hawks on the second game of back-to-backs. That wouldn’t happen in the postseason. “I’m not blaming it on back-to-back games,” Woody said. “We’ve been fairly decent in back-to-back games but it’s just like the energy was sucked out of us in the third quarter.”
– The Hawks felt the officials didn’t help matters. They were called for 25 fouls to 15 for Orlando, and Howard attempted 18 free throws compared to the Hawks’ 20. “It’s tough to beat a great team like Orlando when you can’t get to the line,” Smoove said. “We were aggressive like they were aggressive.”
– Sure, the Hawks didn’t get calls against Howard. But is that ever going to change?
– Some guy named Ryan Anderson scored 16 off the bench for the Magic. Hawks reserves not named Jamal Crawford combined to score 11.
– That shooting foul called on Smoove against Jameer Nelson at the end of the half led to a five-point Magic lead instead of two. “I fouled him earlier (on the floor), and I thought they were going to call it,” Smoove said. “They didn’t, and then I bumped him again and they called it.”
– Woody got a technical after the buzzer. Nelson made the free throw to start the second half. The Hawks got within 57-54 on Mike Bibby’s 3-pointer but Howard had seven points during a 20-9 Magic run to close the period. “They picked it up defensively, and I don’t want to say fatigue set in but we looked very sluggish in the third quarter,” Woody said.
– At least Bibby was back to making open shots. But Jamal (6 of 17) was cold. Before the game, he was wistful about being an All-Star after the Celtics gave him some love.
– No more division lead for the Hawks. They did make it through a week that featured at Houston, at San Antonio vs. Boston and at Orlando at 2-2. “I’ll take it,” Al said. “This was a tough week. We obviously would have liked to have gone 3-1 but it was a good week.”
– I’m out, Hawks fans.