Atlanta Hawks: Magic 101, Hawks 76
Orlando–During a radio interview yesterday, the host tried to get me to predict how this series would turn out.
- “I’m done trying to predict the Hawks,” I said. “They can make you look stupid. When I’ve praised them, they go and get blown out. When I criticize them, they do something like go up 3-1 on the Magic. But one thing I think I can say for sure after these four games is you know they are going to give a good effort tomorrow.”
- Man, I’m about as smart as Charlie Brown when he’s always trying to kick that damn football when he knows Lucy’s going to pull it away again.
- “They came out and hit us early; it just seemed like we didn’t have a response for it,” Hinrich said. “We are going to regroup. We still have the series lead going home. We’re confident we will play better in Game 6.”
- It’s hard to trust the Hawks. They said all of the right things after this, just like they said the right things before. Obviously they are back in the “show me” category after this one.
- Game 6 is Thursday at 7:30 on NBA TV, Home of the Hawks.
- “We are good,” Jamal said. “We are still in the driver’s seat. This is just one game. We have to come out and act like we are in desperation.”
- No act should be necessary. The Hawks shouldn’t want any part of a Game 7 back in this building.
- “There are going to be nights like this,” Smoove said. “We just have to wash it out of our heads. We did want to get the win tonight but we have another shot at it Thursday. We have to play with a little bit more desperation and know that we can’t play Game 7.”
- When Dwight went to the bench with two fouls in the first quarter, it almost seemed like the Hawks relaxed. Maybe L.D. did, too, because he took out Kirk and Al as Orlando’s lead grew to 10. He got Al back in but the Magic’s lead was up to 42-21 by the time Hinrich returned.
- Not that it would have mattered much in this game since his players weren’t ready, anyway, but for a guy who talks about subbing depending on feel and flow L.D. sure does have some weird patterns sometimes.
- With Dwight on the bench the Hawks still didn’t go to the rim. The Magic, meanwhile, played faster and crisper. The Dwight Defense was nullified and the Hawks were a step behind.
- “Jameer and Gilbert were coming off screens aggressivelty all night long,” Josh said. “We had to help a little bit and [still] get out on the shooters. They were shooting with rhythm tonight. I think that pick-and-roll kind of hurst us tonight.”
- “When [Dwight] went out of the game, they went to a little bit more movement sets,” Jamal said. “That is when everyone got involved.”
- And they made shots. Man, did they ever make shots.
- “It seemed like once they made one, they started making them all over the place,” Marvin said.
- “Guys were contesting J.J. Redick and he was making fade-away jump shots,” Josh said.
- “We’re a good-shooting team,” Stan Van Gundy said “This is more us than the first four games. This is not some aberration, ‘Oh, the Magic made threes.’ We’ve been doing this for four years. The aberration was the first four games.”
- The Magic eventually cooled off from the floor. They took care of the ball, though, so there were few extra possessions for the Hawks.
- Not that it would have mattered. Once the Hawks got down, they never showed any sign of putting together a coherent plan to get back in it. They just kept taking and missing jump shots, allowing dribble penetration and generally sucking all around.
- “Obviously we laid an egg tonight,” Hinrich said. “It’s disappointing but at the same time we are looking forward to Game 6. Right now our attention is on that.”
- The Magic turned up the pressure on J.J. and Jamal. They didn’t handle it well.
- “They gave me different looks,” Jamal said. “But I will watch a lot of film and adjust to it.”
- Josh and Al weren’t much better. Smoove strayed outside even before things got out of hand, though at least he did play with more energy than anyone else. Al doesn’t have much else to go to if he’s not popping free for Js.
- At least the Hawks got to the free-throw line. Too bad for them they only made 22 of 32.
- Dwight had eight points and the Magic won by 25. He had eight rebounds and the Magic had an 48-43 edge on the boards. He shot just 10 free throws and the Magic had 29.
- The Hawks lead 3-2 but the Magic have to feel good about a) finding a way to attack the Hawks that works b) discovering that they can in fact take Atlanta’s guards out of it and c) seeing that they in fact can still shoot the ball.
- “The biggest thing was we played with tremendous focus and intensity from start to finish,” Van Gundy said. “And that’s what it’s going to take [in Game 6]. It will be much, much harder on Thursday and we’ll need to play better than we did tonight to get a win there.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat