Orlando–Ugly? Yes. Worthless? Depends on your perspective, I guess.
–”It was a bad basketball game and we played worse than they did,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
– You would think this kind of game would favor the Magic, who are the grinders to Atlanta’s runners. “It’s encouraging to see see guys stick with it and keep defending and keep rebounding,” Al said. “It was ugly but we’ll take it.”
– No use in the Hawks pretending was a normal December W.
– “I ain’t even going to lie to you,” Smoove said. “After losing in the playoffs by like an average of 30 points and playing good enough to win last time but coming up short, we was just determined to get a win here.”
– “Mentally this was a big boost for our guys,” L.D. said. “We’ve come up empty-handed here for a very long time. Last time we were close and we again came up empty-handed.”
– “It’s really big for us,” Bibby said.
– “It’s a good feeling,” Al said. “We’ve struggled against them in the past. We really fully committed to coach’s game plan.”
– A big part of that plan includes not scrambling the entire defense in an effort to slow down Dwight. Twin held his own and even had Dwight doing some of his whining to the refs.
- “Awesome,” L.D. said. “I thought [Collins] did a great job. We know what he’s about. He can play Dwight straight up. Dwight is going to score, we know that, but we wanted to make him earn it. It took us out of the double teams.”
– Zaza also did a respectable job. Etan, not so much. Josh Powell even got a turn on Dwight and actually did OK.
– With Dwight pretty much in check without the need for doubles, the Hawks didn’t allow as much space “We did a good job of running them off the 3-point line and made the inside shots for Dwight harder,” Bibby said.
– You can say the Magic missed some open shots, which they did. But the same thing happened the last time they played Atlanta, too, so perhaps the Hawks at least figured out a blueprint they can believe in.
– No doubt the Hawks benefited from Jameer’s (ill) absence (and maybe the sickly Magic players, too). Keep this up and soon there are going to be more questions about whether they benefit from J.J.’s absence, too (or at least the version of J.J. we’d seen this season).
– They are 3-1 without him, the one loss a close one at Miami. “We try to distribute to the hot hand,” L.D. said. “We look for any matchup in our favor. We try to get more people included. We become a little less predictable.”
– Really, the iso late show has just shifted to Jamal. For the second straight game that was a mixed bag down the stretch. The Hawks led by five and were ready to pull away when he tried to force a runner in the lane that led to a turnover and Redick’s and-1.
– That’s when the Hawks turned to a better option: Josh jacking up jumpers. Seriously, what were the odds that the Hawks would win with Josh busting out a crossover, fadeway J in crunch time?
– Or that Powell, hardly explosive around the rim, would miss a point blank shot, somehow collect the rebound while surrounding by three Magic defenders including Dwight, and then draw a foul?
– The next big play of that stretch was much more probable: Bibby burying a 3-pointer. He made another one after VC blew by Josh for a couple layups. “Everybody hung in there,” he said. “Sometimes we get discouraged [when they don't make shots] but tonight we didn’t get discouraged.
– Bibby is quietly having a very good season which, considering his usual distaste for interviews, is probably the way he likes it. “He’s really played at a very, very high level,” L.D. said.
– Bibby played 21 minutes after halftime. “I asked him how he was feeling and he said he was fine,” Drew said. “In most situations I wouldn’t play him that much but I saw this as an opportunity to get the win. I decided to keep him out there and he came through.”
– Marvin started 0 for 5 from the field and all of those misses were ugly. He never did attack the basket. Marvin limped off just before halftime but started the second half.
– But wasn’t the only guy who couldn’t find his shot and wouldn’t go to the basket. Josh and Al were 16 of 31, everyone else 17 of 54. And you know the Hawks aren’t being aggressive when Bibby leads them with three free-throw attempts.
– Al sometimes seemed to eager to go at Rashard Lewis. Three of his four turnovers came as a result of trying to set up Lewis, who swiped at the ball.
– DNP-CD for Teague.
– The Magic weren’t exactly giving the Hawks much credit. “Even at 80 to 74, it wasn’t even a real hard-fought game,” Van Gundy said. “It was just a bad game and we were worse than they were.”
–”Atlanta is a pretty good team and guys were trying to get back into game shape playing,” Dwight said. “And the rest of guys were playing two tough games on the road and short-handed. I think a lot of guys are exhausted. It was a tough game to lose. It gave Atlanta a little confidence. But we’ll be sure to erase that next time.”