some quick thoughts -
- One of the plays of the game was Dwight Howard’s getting called for a moving screen on Jamal Crawford in the first quarter. Howard was having his way to that point and the Hawks looked tentative. It was 20-10 near the end of the first quarter. By the time he got back in, with 9:34 to go in the second, it was 24-23 and the Hawks had some confidence going.
- I’m with Najeh. The Hawks defended the 3-pointer better and the numbers would indicate as much. The Magic came into the game on a roll from 3-point range and shot 6 for 21. Howard got his – 19 points, 24 (!) rebounds – but he had to work for it. He was 4 for 11 from the field and went to the line 16 times.
Al Horford: “We did a good job on him tonight. We made him work, earn most of the stuff he got. But he’s an All-Star player, so he’s going to go out there and get his.”
- I echo some of the questions about why Jason Collins didn’t play. It seemed like a spot where he would have been useful.
- Magic players got a little salty afterwards, notably Matt Barnes, who was pulled with 5:38 to go. From the Orlando Sentinel:
“(Stan Van Gundy) obviously must not trust me down the stretch. Only thing I can think of. I’m knocking down 3s, I’m playing D, I’m rebounding. I couldn’t believe it,” Barnes said. “I could see it if the person I’m coming out for is cooking or something but that wasn’t really the case tonight.
“It’s very frustrating to sit on the bench the last five minutes when I held Joe to 13 points. It’s very frustrating.”
- As I noted in my game story, Josh Smith’s heroics were necessary because the Hawks nearly gave the game away. After Mike Bibby hit a 3-pointer to put the Hawks up 73-64 with 10:37 to go, they made just one out of their next 10 shots (until Smith’s putback) and turned the ball over four times. And Smith’s jumper was the only basket! (Excellent timing on MC’s last blog. I’ll be curious to see what effect that this has.)
Josh: “I’m just confident in my all-around game. If it’s there, I’ll take it.”
He also said that he doesn’t hear the fans shouting “NO!!!” when he sets up to take jumpers.
Al: “We have to execute better down the stretch, there’s no question about it.”
Second team did its job. Mo Evans (10 points), Zaza Pachulia (took his turn on Howard), Jeff Teague (filthy bounce pass on the break) and Crawford (11 points, four assists) all helped the cause.
Josh: “Definitely give credit to the second unit. Mo Evans was outstanding in the first half, guys like Zaza, who was in there doing dirty things that we need him to do (Josh laughed at this point). It really helped us out.”
- If you’re wondering, the Hawks are now 3.5 back of Orlando. If the Hawks run the table, they’d finish 57-25. Orlando would have to go 6-4 to finish behind them. Obviously, don’t see it happening.