Hawks lose to Magic but prove something in process

Josh Smith and the Hawks threw a scare into the Orlando Magic again Tuesday night but fell short and lost game two. (AP photo)

Josh Smith and the Hawks threw a scare into the Orlando Magic again Tuesday night but fell short and lost game two. (AP photo)

ORLANDO – They won game one and threw a scare into Orlando in game two.

Forget the odds. Forget the mood swings of the regular season. Forget the part of you that says, “I don’t like this team. I don’t trust this team. They’re going nowhere.”

The Hawks didn’t guarantee themselves a playoff series upset with their performances in  Orlando. But they certainly sent a message in game two that game one wasn’t a fluke. After winning the series opener Saturday, they led the heavily favored and desperate Magic by as much as 10 points in the second quarter, fizzled, fell behind by 14 in the fourth, looked dead and then showed the fight and resiliency that too often was missing this season to pull to within two at 78-76 with two minutes left.

In the end, they ran out of gasps and spasms, losing 88-82 Tuesday night. But Orlando walked off their home court with their hearts nearly jumping out of their chest — and this time Jameer Nelson didn’t make a stop to make a crack about catching Chicago in the second round.

“We believed before we came down here, and we still believe we can win this series,” Kirk Hinrich said.

The Magic were a little more physical and aggressive defensively. The Hawks didn’t shoot nearly as well (39.5 percent) as in the series opener. They also didn’t handle the ball as well. They also went to the free throw line only 17 times (making 11), compared to Orlando’s 36 (29 made).

That’s an 18-point difference. Welcome to the NBA’s well-chronicled swing officiating.

Coach Larry Drew wouldn’t comment on the discrepancy, saying only: “We lost a composure a little in the first half.”

Al Horford was a key for the Hawks in the second half when he got going but his absence in first half after two early fouls hurt the team.

Al Horford was a key for the Hawks in the second half when he got going. But his absence in first half after two early fouls hurt them. (AP photo)

The bigger issue was losing Al Horford. He drew two fouls in the first two minutes and Drew made the curious decision — as he has all season — to sit Horford out for the remainder of the half. When Horford got back into game in the second half, he looked out of rhythm and didn’t hit his first bucket until the fourth. The Hawks were outrebounded 52-39. Orlando had 20 offensive boards — most of those when Horford was on the bench.

“I got taken out of the game quick in the first half — I feel like that affected us,” Horford said. “They had 16 offensive rebounds in the first half. That’s something I have to be more conscious about. I was out of rhythm. It took me a while to get going. The team played well but we just missed some shots.”

The Magic led by as much as 14 early in the fourth quarter. The Hawks looked dead. Even when Dwight Howard (33 points) drew his fifth foul with 5:40 left, they trailed by 12 points, 78-66, and the offense was out of rhythm. The starting backcourt of Joe Johnson and Hinrich were a combined 7 for 23.

But they didn’t fold. Again.

They went on an 8-0 run, including two baskets by Johnson, to close Orlando’s lead to four points with 2:43 left. After an Orlando timeout, Horford stole a pass and then finished off a give-and-go with Josh Smith with a dunk to pull to 78-76. The Hawks bench erupted.

Could this happen again? No. This time the rally fell short. A three-pointer by Jason Richardson with 1:03 left pretty much buried them at 83-76.

The Hawks led by as much as 10 points in the first half, and for a while were playing possibly their best basketball of the season. They defended well, had few turnovers, drove to the basket and rarely took a bad shot. Howard had as many turnovers as points (four each) in the first quarter, and once again seemed bothered by the play of Jason Collins.

The market correction came later.

It was an interesting past two days. Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy scrambled to decipher out how they could lose a game when Dwight Howard scored 46 points. General manager Otis Smith openly criticized the game one performance of forward Hedo Turkoglu, possibly as an attempt to distract fans who’ve been busy throwing Smith under the bus since a seven-player December trade that brought Turkoglu and Richardson to town and sent Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Michael Pietrus away.

Then there were the Magic fans, who are worried enough about Howard opting out of his contract after next season, or possibly forcing a trade this summer, Carmelo-style, if their team gets bounced by the Hawks.

They’re a little calmer in Orlando now. But they know they’re in for a series.

By Jeff Schultz


Last few Hawks blogs

Collins’ comments get attention of Van Gundy, Howard

Hawks’ Collins ready for game 2 (round 2?) against Howard

Van Gundy: Hawks’ Hinrich deal better than Carmelo trade

Playoff win shows Hawks haven’t quit on Larry Drew

Hawks surprise us again — this time by stunning Magic

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

91 comments Add your comment

JJ

April 19th, 2011
10:54 pm

Scott

April 19th, 2011
10:55 pm

JJ

April 19th, 2011
10:57 pm

The difference in the game tonight was the last 5 minutes or so of the first half. The Hawks took a bunch of bad shots on offense, and Van Gundy and D Howard’s incessant public whining about the officials and the league in general finally caused the officials to cave in. Even though it only created a 6 point deficit, the Hawks found themselves playing from behind the rest of the night.

It was a good effort though, I feel pretty good about ATL’s chances of taking both games at home this weekend.

Sam

April 19th, 2011
10:57 pm

Who really cares if you are first? Most annoying thing on message boards. FIRST FIRST. Shut up, no one cares.

Reality

April 19th, 2011
11:03 pm

Reality here is, that was the worst refereeing I’ve ever seen. Terrible. Just straight up terrible.

soldierman

April 19th, 2011
11:05 pm

I agree with reality. the calling was a bit shotty this game. All in all we were still in the game right until the end. Hell if the boys had this kind of effort all season dare I say we could have challenged the chi town boys for the 1 seed. perhaps indeed.

JJ

April 19th, 2011
11:05 pm

Sam – apparently you aren’t aware that Jeff gives out a transitor radio to the reader that arrives FIRST for his columns. Perhaps you should get here sooner next time.

Trainwreck

April 19th, 2011
11:05 pm

James on Pharr Rd

April 19th, 2011
11:06 pm

In unrelated coaching news-Woody for Houston job. I think he would actually do well in that type of situation the Rockets have.

http://www.myfoxhouston.com/dpp/sports/nba/110419-woodson-would-like-to-become-rockets-next-coach

The Falcon Jedi

April 19th, 2011
11:07 pm

The NBA is rigged. Nobody wants to watch the Hawks advance in the Playoffs. All the NBA ever wants is a Lakers vs, Celtics or Bulls matchup in the Finals. Its the same crap every year. Thats why nobody cares about the NBA any more.

Trainwreck

April 19th, 2011
11:08 pm

Just kidding… just don’t c y people get so wound up about the first thing… anyway I thought the Hawks showed resilience tonight against some tough officiating (although there were some questionable calls made in the Hawks favor also) Looking forward to seeing if the Hawks can win a couple at home and really put some pressure on Orl.

James on Pharr Rd

April 19th, 2011
11:14 pm

The Hawks surprised me a lot, but we need to make some changes on D though-the same strategy mentality does not work in the playoffs. It is one thing to foul Dwight and another for him to get easy baskets(+1’s) and catching the ball in sweet spots That has to change, we also have to switch from the JC mentality on offense because it hurts us defensively on off rebounds. We shouldn’t shoot for trading baskets, our goal is to continue limiting easy chances and JC is such a duck on D,,,,arghhhhhhhh..

LD: play JC the entire 3rd quarter and first 3-5 minutes of the 4th-Let’s play motion offense and hang our hats on D while he’s on the bench.

DirtyBraveHawk

April 19th, 2011
11:15 pm

The officiating in this game was atrocious. I’m a Hawks homer, but even if I wasn’t, I would say the same thing. Dwight Howard can be called for a moving screen just about 85% of the time. There were ticky tack fouls called on the defensive end that definitely altered things. Hawks didn’t do themselves any favors, coaching-wise and on the floor. Leaving Al on the bench was a bad decision. He obviously was cold coming out into the 2nd half. I also feel like the momentum changed late in the first half when we got erratic on offense. All in all I’m glad it was a competitive game. That’s the key. Atlanta feeds off momentum and good vibes. The fact that they competed and had a legit chance to win this going down the stretch will bode well for Game 3. If they play composed, I honestly feel like they can take Games 3 & 4. Let’s get it Hawks! DWIGHT OUT!

BobDawg

April 19th, 2011
11:15 pm

Horford can’t get 2 quick fouls again in 1st half… Can’t believe Drew sat him the entire half….

James on Pharr Rd

April 19th, 2011
11:16 pm

Jeff…..

What is the insider perception of SVG besides his annoying character? He remains a mystery to me, some say he knows the game extensively, then he had the whole Miami embarrassment issue, and he under performed in the Finals as well. Whats the 411?

Egbert

April 19th, 2011
11:21 pm

NBA officials often remind me of wrestling referees, and that was the case tonight. I expected to see Howard come out in the second half with a folding chair and whack Zaza in the head with it.

Mel

April 19th, 2011
11:28 pm

Hawks fouled a ton, officiating wasnt bad at all, Magic nor Hawks could shoot, came down to rebounding, Dwight killed us, game lost.

Jeff Schultz

April 19th, 2011
11:37 pm

JJ — Agree about last 5 mins of first half, and that’s when Drew should’ve put Horford back in the game, in my opinion.

Jeff Schultz

April 19th, 2011
11:38 pm

JJ — “Sam – apparently you aren’t aware that Jeff gives out a transitor radio to the reader that arrives FIRST for his columns.” …. Actually, gifts have been upgraded. Now I give away an 8-track deck and a Twinkie.

Jeff Schultz

April 19th, 2011
11:39 pm

James on Pharr Rd. — I think most people believe Van Gundy is a really good coach but in time he wears on players.

Manny

April 19th, 2011
11:47 pm

Jeff what did you think about this horrible offensive display from the hawks, going one on one yet again. Newsflash, we don’t have a superstar that can take over games anymore, we need to win as a team.

JOSH SMITH FOR 3!!

April 19th, 2011
11:52 pm

The difference was Turk actually showing up for this game, and of course Horford riding the pine.

Harry Hawk

April 19th, 2011
11:52 pm

It is damned pathetic when some fans will legitimately draw positives from a loss like this because, well, this team doesn’t show up all that often. That’s a terrible indictment of the roster, isn’t it?

Najeh Davenpoop

April 19th, 2011
11:55 pm

The Magic closed out the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Aside from that, the Hawks outplayed them throughout the game thanks to their defensive effort. The offensive execution was lacking, but they communicated well on defense, for the most part closed out on the outside shooters, and Collins did a good job on Dwight. Zaza also did OK on him.

Offensive boards, the free throw disparity, and some questionable substitutions killed the Hawks in this one. Al should have come back in the game with five minutes left like JS says, but also, I felt like Collins should have checked in against Dwight after he drew his 5th foul to try to draw the 6th and foul him out of the game. And it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to put Teague in the game to try to create some scoring opportunities in the lane or in transition when nobody else could buy a bucket.

But the Hawks have proven over six games this season that they can hold the Orlando offense in check, which is a good indication that they can hang with the Magic for the remainder of the series. And their resilience in the face of adversity today is a good omen going forward.

Dr. Warren

April 19th, 2011
11:56 pm

Looks like a 7-game series to me. The win will come down to who has the bigger heart, and since history is the best predictor of the future, you have to say the Magic have the advantage, unfortunately.

michael m.

April 20th, 2011
12:10 am

jeff u need to call drew out on ridiculous decisions like not putting horford back in during last few minutes of 2nd qtr when game got away from us and magic took momentum in the game, gaining confidence thru all their second and third chances…drew didnt coach with a sense of urgency and he needs to be smarter. hard when we have a coach who makes us play with a hand tied behind our back. so frustrating. seriously, does anyone challenge drew about such stupidity?

JASon

April 20th, 2011
12:16 am

The Magic were scrappy and solid on defense, forcing a lot of turnovers, and that’s how they won. They got just the amount of offense needed to win.

By the way, Jameer Nelson’s comment was not a “crack”. He was merely him saying to Derrick, hey man, I’ll see you in the second round, if all goes according to plan. The hawks are not a polarizing team, and I highly doubt there are players around who have this disrespect for our team. I think that’s a huge misconception. Jameer is one of the good guys in the nba

PMC

April 20th, 2011
12:22 am

Considering the incredible amount of whining coming from Dwight Howard and the subsequent and inevitable boosh calls the NBA is known for, I was proud of the overall effort.

The Hawks need to get to the line more and rebound better. But, I’m proud of the effort so far.

PMC

April 20th, 2011
12:24 am

Maybe… they are growing up? Maybe they made some decent moves this year?

PMC

April 20th, 2011
12:25 am

Imagine Dwight and Dwayne Wade on the court together…. it would sound more like a nursery than a basketball game with all the crying going on.

Fussball Fan

April 20th, 2011
12:56 am

PMC, if you are a Hawks fan,you WISH, you had even one player on your team who could hold Dwight or Dwayne’s jock. Magic, Michael, Shaq (in his prime) and Bird all whined about calls too.

M

April 20th, 2011
1:04 am

The Hawks “Can” win this thing man. They need to work on their free throw shooting. And the Ref’s need to quit cheating in the NBA for the so called star players around the league. Dwight is good but he needs to quit throwing so many elbows that the Ref’s don’t call. It’s time for Joe to step up even more. If you gave “me” all that money, no chance in hell does anyone stop “me” in the paint slamming on em.

Meatball

April 20th, 2011
1:08 am

I think Teague can bring some on the table
Give the kid a chance
Hope its gonna be a blow at the factory

Tom

April 20th, 2011
1:24 am

First!

Bob Rathbun tonight: “Dwight Howard has not set a legal screen in his seven years in the league.”

LOLOL!!!

KSUAlum

April 20th, 2011
2:25 am

Howard throws Collins and/or Zaza to the floor at least two or three times a game, and only gets called for it once. Screw these refs. And sadly it’s not home cooking – when they come to Atlanta, it’ll be the same story, with the Hawks going to the line 15-20 times and Orlando going to the line 45 times. It’s BS. And it happens to the Hawks way too often.

Hawks

April 20th, 2011
2:52 am

“But Orlando walked off their home court with their hearts nearly jumping out of their chest ”

as long as they move on to the next round i’m pretty sure they could care less how they go about winning the series. Putting a scare into a team means absolutely nothing if you’re the team that goes home in the end.

JSS

April 20th, 2011
6:03 am

@ Jeff Schultz…
Well, we are getting some answers about the question of the “rest of the journey.” Taking any bets on what kind of a crowd shows up Friday night?

I keep just being mystified by how this team has 12, 17, and 19 scoring quarters! Drive to the hole, Saturday proved good things happen when you do!

JSS

April 20th, 2011
6:07 am

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot: “Make it happen!”

cd

April 20th, 2011
6:34 am

The foul discrepancy can be explained by the consistency of Dwight Howard. Most teams in the league took the “Hack-a-Shaq” mentality when guarding him, so an inordinate number of fouls will be called against any team playing this strategy. When he makes his shots from the line, the Magic are a much better team, as ATL saw tonight..

VinnyD

April 20th, 2011
7:05 am

Someone needs to learn the old “step on his foot” trick with Dwight. When he gets ready to go for a rebound, step on his foot and see how high he gets. Heck, he wears a size 56EEE. Can’t be that hard. Dwight plays very physical, the only problem is that retaliation leads to a foul. Players have to learn to play physical without getting caught..Play Dirty. Growing up as a smaller defensive player in soccer, I always took on guys top notch strikers with great skills in the air. The old step on the foot before he goes up works every time. Never been caught.

JSS

April 20th, 2011
7:12 am

“The foul discrepancy can be explained by the consistency of Dwight Howard.”

J.J. Redick had 5 trips to the charity line… There is your travesty…

Truth

April 20th, 2011
7:29 am

Why in the world does JJ make 20 million a season?

Sometimes he seems like the 2nd or 3rd option in offense. He is suppose to be a “superstar” and take over when the team is struggling. Great job for this awuful signing

honest_abe

April 20th, 2011
7:35 am

mr schultz: i have to disagree. the magic played about as poorly as they have all year. the hawks basically lost to 1 guy. you can’t expect the rest of the pieces to play as bad for the rest of the series and yet the hawks weren’t able to take advantage. they didn’t have the look of a team that was intent on taking two. they weren’t sharp offensively and they looked good defensively but only because the magic were so sloppy and inept. this team has major flaws. they have no heart. they got punked by “superman” and never responded. joe johnson didn’t build on a strong game one performance instead he reverted back to the old joe we’ve all grown accustomed to passive, weak, slow. unless the hawks grow a pair in the next couple of days this series is going to end quickly.

51WTGW50

April 20th, 2011
7:38 am

I wasn’t to far off? Hawks need that win but we shouldn’t have expected to sweep the Magic on their home court.
51WTGW50
April 19th, 2011
6:24 pm

85-76 the Magic win and Hawk fans still buy playoff tickets.

catch ya in round 2

April 20th, 2011
7:46 am

Someone sure told the refs to make sure holando wins this game. If there ever was a fix in a game this was it.

JChikara

April 20th, 2011
8:19 am

Home teams will get more calls, that’s why teams are so adamant about getting home court advantage in the playoffs. It is what it is, and the Hawks knew that going into this series.

I think the Hawks have played well so far but will need to get back to the offensive flow they had in Game 1 if they want to win this series. Defensively they have taken it to Orlando (sans Howard, but who really can stop him?) and if they continue to do that they will be fine.

Joey

April 20th, 2011
8:22 am

Dwight Howard camps out in the lane on both ends, moves his feet on picks and screens (every time), pushes and throws elbows, and generally acts like a bull in a china shop, and gets called for near nothing.

It’s sickening. Stern should be ashamed that it’s so obvious what’s going on . . .

Joey

April 20th, 2011
8:23 am

“Home teams will get more calls”
*******************************
So Howard won’t get any calls in game 3?

You are dreaming.

Just watch.

phil

April 20th, 2011
8:34 am

You call that basketball? It was a mugfest. Only the second game I’ve watched all year, and it reminded me why I don’t watch anymore. Horrific officiating, both ways, Hawks can’t or won’t rebound the ball, terrible shot selection….why watch this garbage….

hawks will be lucky to win one more game…write it down.

tremaine

April 20th, 2011
8:39 am

The Hawks are still a jumpshooting team with a terrible coach. Stop looking for a bailout from the refs. Like an idiot, Jason Collins pretty much told the world that he is going to foul Dwight every time he get the ball.

“Dwight’s gotta know: Every time he’s going across the lane or he’s running in transition, he’s going to get hit.”