Game 3 in Philips Arena: It’s last-stand time for the Hawks

Orlando – The Hawks led the Magic by two points after 35 minutes and 59 seconds here Thursday night. They trailed by 19 points barely eight minutes later. The visitors had gotten almost everything they could have hoped from the first three quarters, and yet, once again, they weren’t close at the end.

There was about Game 2 a sensation of a best shot having been delivered and parried — a chilling thought. Asked if that was his impression, Josh Smith said: “There’s a better shot still to come. We have to play the full 48.”

Maybe those long-awaited 48 minutes will come at Philips Arena on Saturday. If not, that’s it for this season. The team that won 53 games is down to its last real chance. That said …

The Milwaukee Bucks were down to their last real chance not two weeks ago, and they won Games 3, 4 and 5 and had a chance to close out the Hawks at the Bradley Center. The old playoff axiom: A series doesn’t begin until the road team wins. The road team hasn’t yet won in this series.

As suggested last night, there’s every chance the Magic could be too stout for the Hawks. “They’re good,” Mike Woodson admitted in a candid moment, staring at the box score in the locker room. Also this, regarding his team: “They’re going to have to have a defensive mentality.”

The Hawks have played five road playoff games. In four of them the opponent has scored more than 100 points. The exception was Game 6 against Milwaukee, in which the Hawks limited the Bucks to 69 points. Woodson took great pride in his team’s defensive efforts — Milwaukee averaged 71.5 points over the final two games — to close out that series, but the Magic are a different kettle of fish. They scored 114 points in a laugher and 112, after a 28-point fourth quarter in which Dwight Howard made only one basket, in a tight game that became a laugher.

“We’re good enough to play with anybody,” said Al Horford, who had one of the finest games of a stellar career (24 points, 10 rebounds). “We’ve got to keep improving and building on what we did the first half. We’ve got to put in a full game.”

If you’re into trends, you’re slightly encouraged. The Hawks played one good quarter in Game 1; they played three in Game 2. They were where they needed to be the second time around, and then they started lofting jump shots and the game got away. The Magic went from one point ahead to 11 points up in three minutes and 10 seconds, which shows Orlando has a separation gear its opponent lacks. The trick is to keep that gear from being engaged.

And that won’t be easy, not even at Philips. The one time the Hawks beat the Magic this season, they led by 11 points late but needed Smith’s follow dunk at the horn to win. The Magic have so many options: Jameer Nelson had four points in the first half Thursday, 13 in the third quarter; Vince Carter had four points in the first half, 11 in the fourth quarter.

Game 3 at Philips: Who wins?

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Came the final period, Mike Bibby was long gone. There’s nobody for him to guard in this series. (There aren’t many people for Bibby to guard in any series.) What people say about the playoffs is true: Matchups become paramount here, and the longer a series goes the harder it is for the Hawks to hide Bibby. Imagine trying to win in postseason with your starting point guard not playing a fourth-quarter minute.

“We have to put in a full game,” Horford said. “We tried to get a full game together and couldn’t do it.”

And now it’s down to one last stand. Game 3’s are often last stands for the team trailing 2-0, but that doesn’t mean Game 3 can’t have a transforming effect. The Hawks were just looking for respectability headed into Game 3 against the Celtics in 2008; they wound up taking Boston to a Game 7.

As ominous as it seems, this series isn’t over. The Hawks play better at home, and they’ll have to play better than ever if they plan to give Orlando a real run. “You’ve got to play the full 48 to beat these guys,” Smith said, and the Hawks managed three-quarters of that in Game 2. Either they go the distance in Game 3, or they prepare to go home for the summer.

167 comments Add your comment

F-105 Thunderchief

May 7th, 2010
8:06 am

First again?

Mark Bradley

May 7th, 2010
8:07 am

First again. I’ve mentioned what the “F” must represent, Thunderchief. Kudos.

Wanted 2 Coaches

May 7th, 2010
8:11 am

Do I even need to say it again??? Please dont let Mike Woodson stay as long as Bobby Cox. It is not clear this man cant coach the talent he has. Please Please get a coach before all this young talent is gone!!!

F-105 Thunderchief

May 7th, 2010
8:11 am

I think Orlando has the Hawks’ number. But, hopefully, our guys can win a couple and put up a fight.

Carlos

May 7th, 2010
8:12 am

Interesting article….
Joe Johnson, GET OUT!
by Ben Gunby Analyst Written on May 07, 2010
Doug Benc/Getty Images The honeymoon is over. Joe, we get your gameplan. You take the money, and you perform, to an extent, enough to earn another contract elsewhere, but you check out when it’s crunch time.

Ask the Suns. You took their money, but as the deal winded down, where were you? Oh, right, doing nothing.

So your deal with the Hawks is over. You’ve taken their money, and now it’s crunch time and you are a pending free agent. Where are you? Oh, right, again, nowhere to be seen.

You epitomize what is perceived to be the problems with pro athletes. You only care about the next paycheck.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve long heard actions speak louder than words.

Your actions are those of a man who doesn’t care one iota about where here currently plays, but rather where he will next get paid.

As bad as the 40 plus point drubbing in game one was, and as bad the 4th quarter collapse in game two turned out to be, the worst thing about these two games down in Florida was what I saw prior to the 4th quarter in game two.

The Hawks team was centered around a player, a player trying to motivate, drive, and inspire his team.

The problem?

That player wasn’t Joe Johnson. It was Josh Smith. And to take nothing away from Mr. Smith, in fact, more props to him for taking over a role that was left empty because of the ineptness of someone else, but that should have been Joe Johnson.

Don’t give me the, “he’s not vocal” crap, I don’t want to hear it. If you want, as he does, to be paid max money in the NBA, you need to be a leader. You need to be vocal. Vocal leaders win championships. Vocal leaders LEAD teams to championships. If Joe Johnson can’t be that, then he shouldn’t be paid accordingly. He obviously can’t, or, more likely, doesn’t WANT, to lead anybody to a championship. He wants to lead himself to the nearest bank and cash a really fat check.

He’s said over and over again how this Hawks team has no heart. Actually, it does. This team rebounded from an absolute shellacking in game one, only to lead game two with mere seconds to go in the 3rd quarter. This TEAM has heart.

The problem is, the so called leader doesn’t.

Where has Joe Johnson been?

Remember game five in Atlanta against the Bucks? Remember this “superstar” showing? It was a huge game for this team, and where was it’s leader? It’s star? Hmmmmmmmmm?

Since that game, where has Joe Johnson been?

Turning the ball over? Oh, yeah, he’s been excelling at that.

Down one, down 1-0 in the eastern semis on the road, entering the fourth quarter. Do you know what superstars do then? They take over.

What did you do? Oh, right, nothing, how easy it is to forget.

That game in Orlando was your chance. It was your chance to prove the naysayers wrong, your chance to show what a big time player you were. Your team was in position to even the series against a higher seed in the eastern semis, and they were at this point in need, as every playoff NBA team is, of someone to take over down the stretch. But yet, you couldn’t do it. You failed, again.

But you’re a superstar? Sorry Joe, superstars don’t defer to people who just recently were allowed to drink alcohol legally to lead their team. Superstars don’t wilt when it’s time to make it happen. Superstars don’t render their teammates useless.

Making others better is kind of what they do. Funny, you don’t, can’t, or don’t want, to do that.

Vince Carter was, albeit, up one, and at home, but it was crunch time. What did he do? Take the game over.

What did Joe Johnson do? You wilted, again.

And you think you deserve a max contract? Really?

I’m sorry, I think max contract guys are the ones who inspire their teammates, who make their teammates better, who lead their teams to do things beyond what should be expected.

Dominating the ball for 20 seconds and then forcing up a bad shot or leaving a teammate in no-man’s land with no time on the clock isn’t exactly what I think of when it comes to guys commanding contracts like LeBron and Kobe. Neither is disappearing when it matters most.

Maybe that’s just me. Hopefully it’s also Rick Sund.

Joe, you are what you are, you’ve gotten us where you can get us, or anywhere else, but please, get the heck out of Atlanta.

What’s unfortunate is, is that if you choose to stay, our ownership group might choose to keep you.

Mark Bradley

May 7th, 2010
8:12 am

There’s a chance the Magic is just too good. That became apparent, at least to me, last night.

Ryan S

May 7th, 2010
8:13 am

Who cares what Josh Smth says. That guy is a huge part of why we lost our lead in the 2nd half. Did you see him get lightly tapped in the face..continue to play for 3 secs…then fake an injury to his face…only to have Vince Carter come down and drain a 3. The last thing we need is a quote from him about “our best shot”…I wish they would show this clip all over sportscenter.

Mark Bradley

May 7th, 2010
8:13 am

I would concede that the Magic’s superiority might have been apparent to others long before Game 2. But I’m stubborn sometimes.

DP

May 7th, 2010
8:17 am

Speaking of playing 48 minutes, Josh Smith needs to run down the floor to play defense instead of standing in the backcourt every time he throws the ball away or gets a boo boo. Hubie Brown ripped him for loafing a couple of times last night. Brown also ripped Joe Johnson whenever he started pounding the ball into the floor and running out the shot clock. I wish Hubie was still coaching the Hawks even if he is pushing 80 years old.

Herschel Talker

May 7th, 2010
8:17 am

hahahaha. You clowns are going to get sucked in again. Insanity is repeating the same thing over and expecting different results. Believing in the Hawks is insanity.

Mark Bradley

May 7th, 2010
8:18 am

Lots of coaches are astute when they’re no longer coaching. Just sayin’.

An Adult

May 7th, 2010
8:20 am

F-105 Thunderchief, although you may be first, your high school prom date for this year called and said you were spending too much time on-line waiting for a blog to show up so you could be ‘first’. She’s found someone more mature. Don’t worry, as a junior you still have your senior year prom

Goldenhawk

May 7th, 2010
8:21 am

Mark-glad to see you are finally warming up to the point I made three weeks ago. We have had a fine season and the Hawks will only get better. We clearly have some holes to fill over the off season as you have pointed out; however, it is not Bibby’s defense, the Coaching staff, the bench or the oil slick that is causing our melt-down. Orlando is simply a very, very good bball team. Since the all-star break the Magic have flat dominated. I just don’t see anyone in the NBA stopping them right now. Clearly they are peaking at the right time.

There are lessons to be learned from the Orlando franchise for Atl. We are very comperable to where they were not that long ago.

DP

May 7th, 2010
8:21 am

I agree with the posting above on Joe Johnson. He’s a taller version of World B. Free.

An Adult

May 7th, 2010
8:22 am

Mark— I applaud you for encouraging high school students to be competitive getting to your blog first. It’s great to work with kids

DP

May 7th, 2010
8:24 am

I don’t know Mark. Woodson has been watching Joe Johnson pound the ball into the floor and run down the shot clock for 5 years. Hubie was lighting him up every time he did it last night and talking about how the Hawks had to keep the ball moving and get into their offensive set with more than 5 seconds left on the shot clock.

F-105 Thunderchief

May 7th, 2010
8:27 am

Actually, I didn’t wait for a blog to show up. I just wandered in, nobody was in the room, so I typed like mad and became what you only dream you could be – first. By the way, your mama was my prom date.

Vol_In_Ohio

May 7th, 2010
8:29 am

Why didn’t Smoove hustle down the floor on multiple occasions last night?

I thought the officiating was horrible on some of those Howard calls in the first half. Could the Hawks have gone up by more than 8 at the half if Howard would have been out of the game earlier? They were really exploiting the matchup – I thought they played their best when he went out in the 2nd Q.

An Adult

May 7th, 2010
8:30 am

That’s why she called me… and you just wondered in on the other blog you were ‘first’ on today… right. Good luck with the SATs when you take them next year. College is a good thing.

Vol_In_Ohio

May 7th, 2010
8:33 am

“Magic just too good?” You know, that’s probably right. I kept hoping we would beat out Boston for that three seed and dodge Cleveland. Now I don’t know if that was the best thing to happen.

Of course, we would probably be saying “Cleveland just too good?” right now.

pluckthehawks

May 7th, 2010
8:33 am

My ears are still ringing from the crowd noise last night, it sure is nice to be able to shift into overdrive.

Vol_In_Ohio

May 7th, 2010
8:35 am

The officiating was horrible on some of those Howard calls in the first half. Once he went out the Hawks did a great job of exploiting the matchup inside. What if he would have been out 5 or 10 minutes earlier? Could the Hawks have been up 16 at the half? Maybe that would have been enough to cling to…maybe not.

BuckCommander

May 7th, 2010
8:36 am

Congrats to Thundercheif for being FIRST again. I have been FIRST a few times myself, not that I would want to offend anyone on the blog and claim a FIRST.

governor404

May 7th, 2010
8:37 am

relax hawk fans (da true ones) the only thing accomplished so far was that the home team (as expected by the way, check the vegas lines) held serve,nothing more nothing less, the true test comes saturday, if the magic beats us after we play 4 quarters of inspired, focus basketball, then i will admit we are doomed. Not until then. We’ve given up over a 100 pts in 4 of our road playoff games, It must start with defense and Woody came in with the title of being a defensive coach, let’s see.

Balderdash

May 7th, 2010
8:37 am

I think the Hawks are as good as the Magic … up until you come to Dwight Howard. He’s the difference maker. And, Van Gundy is probably a better coach than Woody, too.

By the way, who’s the adult. A fan who types “first” on a sport blog, or a lady who keeps complaining about it? Hmmm.

builder dawg

May 7th, 2010
8:41 am

the hawks are a joke, i don’t watch basketball and i still can tell that they are no match for orlando. lack of motivation as well as not being as good as orlando tells me that there are brooms that will be out on monday…..just saying

Joey

May 7th, 2010
8:44 am

Joe Johnson = dribble dribble dribble, dribble between legs, dribble dribble dribble, dribble between legs, dribble dribble dribble, dribble between legs, dribble dribble dribble, etc.

When Joe singlehandedly changes the momentum of a game by doing the above manuver, am I the only one who shouts at the TV until my wife and cats get up and leave the room?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley. Mark Bradley said: Game 3 in Philips Arena: Last-stand time for the Hawks. http://bit.ly/9fRjuL [...]

Devoted Reader

May 7th, 2010
8:46 am

JJ plays long minutes, gets tired, and in the end becomes uneffective. Woody knows it, but has no other option. Magic in four, five at the most. All you amateurs who predicted Hawks in 4,5, or six need to be accountable for your actions. NOW, you may speak up!

Willy

May 7th, 2010
8:47 am

Mark – now that the playoffs are behind us, what will be the best prospects available for the Hawkies in the draft?

Joey

May 7th, 2010
8:48 am

So, because the Hawks don’t match up well against the Magic, they “are a joke.” Don’t be such a dummy, builder dawg.

Ask the Boston Celtics if the “Hawks are a joke.”

Decatur Native

May 7th, 2010
8:49 am

Why do they NOT drive to the hole when we need points, if you don’t drive early then they can be more aggressive towards the end of the game on defense, and this is PLAYOFF basketball, cannot go two or more possessions without scoring.

D Hawks

May 7th, 2010
8:54 am

Funny Joey. The difference in real superstars dribbling a lot and JJ dribbling a lot is that the superstars are trying to set something up such as a drive to the basket, drive and dish to the wing or a switch out of a particular defensive matchup. I have no idea what Joe is trying to do.

D Hawks

May 7th, 2010
8:55 am

The strangest statistic from Game 2 was Randolph Morris at +10 in only 5 minutes playing time to lead the team in that category.

Peter

May 7th, 2010
9:04 am

Mark..Yes the Magic may be too good….BUT the HAWKS are TOO SMALL !

Hubie brown stated last night……”Basically you have a guy in Horford who has a power forward’s body trying to guard Howard a center”.

What do you make of that…….that guy knows basketball Mark !

Peter

May 7th, 2010
9:06 am

Yes Joey….I don’t have a cat………..LOL !

oldmike

May 7th, 2010
9:10 am

Are these guys getting paid to play partial games? Do they get a bonus if they effort thru 4 quarters? What happens if they play overtime? Do they get a weekend in Vegas as a spot bonus? What the f… The Magic are better than the Hawks in so many ways it’s embarrassing.

ShortHawksFan

May 7th, 2010
9:11 am

Hawks fans! Don’t give up! Anything can happen! Show your support!!!

NBA

May 7th, 2010
9:21 am

Like I said in a previous post when the Hawks struggled to beat the Bucks–the Hawks are going to get chewed up and spit out by the Magic. No competition here, and very little interest–so much that the AJC doesn’t even have a link about the Hawks game on their home page.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

May 7th, 2010
9:21 am

game 3 win by the Hawks- funniest thing i’ve heard all day so far. PATHETIC!!!!

Joey

May 7th, 2010
9:22 am

I probably won’t have a cat either after this series . . .

Speaking of Refs, they sure have a hair-trigger whistle for anyone guarding Dwight Howard when he goes banging into the lane. I had just gotten out of my mouth that “Howard should be on the bench with two fouls” after he bulldozed Collins twice in 1 minute in the first quarter when Hubie said the exact same thing. Instead, he scored what, 18 in the quarter?

James

May 7th, 2010
9:22 am

Mark.
You LOVE Al Horford.

It’s OK, I do too. It’s hard not to, when he’s the only guy that seems like he can pay attention for a full 48 minutes.

Good coverage last night. Too bad the Bradley curse still found a way. You doing game 3 too?

Greg

May 7th, 2010
9:23 am

The Magic are going to sweep. It’s like Varsity vs. JV. For the JV team to win 1 time out of 10, it had to come on a last second tip in. Flukes happen…but now it’s go time and the Magic are just rolling. They aren’t afraid of opposing crowds either. They went into Boston and slapped the Celtics around last year in a Game 7 so don’t think the Hawks “fans” will prove to be a difference maker. The Magic thrive on shutting up opposing crowds.

NC Braves Fan

May 7th, 2010
9:24 am

In retrospect, you wonder if Woody’s decision to keep Jeff Teague on the bench most of the year might be coming back to haunt us here.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Paul Bliss. Paul Bliss said: Game 3 in Philips Arena: It's last-stand time for the Hawks: Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) Al Horford did hi… http://bit.ly/dezwLM [...]

DP

May 7th, 2010
9:29 am

Now that the series is moving to Atlanta, the Hawks should have a defensive strategy to drive Magic dribblers to the dead spots on the court that Joe Johnson has created by pounding the ball into the floor and trap them. How often do they have to reinflate the basketballs when Joe Johnson plays?

Blue

May 7th, 2010
9:30 am

I’ll never forgive Billy Knight for drafting Josh Childress over Luol Deng or Andre Iguadala.

I’ll actually give him a pass for drafting Marvin Williams though. That year, Andrew Bogut and Marvin Williams were the consensus picks at 1 and 2. However, we sorely needed a point guard that year and there were two great ones still available. And Billy Knight was supposed to be this great basketball man. On second thought, I take that back. FAIL on Billy Knight for drafting Marvin.

I vividly remember a MARK BRADLEY column a week or so before that draft warning Knight of drafting Marvin. He predicted that Marvin would be in the mole of Shareef Abdur-Rahim. A serviceable player nonetheless, but not worth burning a Number 2 pick on. Boy was he right.

But Billy Knights most egregious draft has to be drafting the slum-lord Sheldon Williams. SHELDON WILLIAMS when BRANDON ROY was the consensus pick STILL ON THE BOARD!!!! Sheldon Williams when you already had a glut of forwards. INEXCUSABLE!!!

I wish Mike Woodson well if he gets canned after this season. But Billy Knight’s horrific drafting over the years has set this franchise back tremendously. The fact that he wasted all those lottery picks on a bunch of forwards when we clearly needed points and centers is unforgiveable. We’re still paying the price.

Gamer

May 7th, 2010
9:34 am

Hawks can hold serve at ATL back in the NEST of Phillips Arena.

The Hawks got what it take to beat the Magic the next two games…

Joe Johnson find his shot,, the Hawks will be cruising to two easy victories..JOE NEED TO DO MORE SHOOT AROUND,,PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE..FIND YOUR SHOT, MAN!!!

Josh Smith and Horford continue to play strong inside game by attacking the rim to make baskets or draw foul from defenders..

Marvin showed a little atheleticism but went soft at times,,need to be more consistent playing at the rim and midrange game…

Jamal stay consistent with attacking the rim, pushing defenders back for midrange shots, the long ball will be there..

Woody need to groom Jeff Teague during this postseason run, the boy got game,,he just need confidence to play into the flow of game with teammates..

Bibby is a craftsman, he will find his way…

The Hawks big reservemen are playing too slow on defending Howard.. Howard don’t have a patented shot,, he’s a dunker.. Play Howard face up..

HAWKS MAKE BEDLAM!!!! STRIKE FRIGHT INTO YOUR OPPONENT!!!!!

Bob Pettit

May 7th, 2010
9:42 am

The Hawks will never win anything with Joe Johnson and Josh Smith on the team and Woodson running the show. J&J are not leaders, and they aren’t prime-timers that rise to the occasion. JS is a whiner and a baby, JJ is a complimentary player, & after 6 years MW still doesn’t have a coherent half-court attack. There is no 4th-quater heart on this team – these guys should be blowtorches in crunch time, yet year after year they keep proving that they’re just not mentally tough enough.

W/E

May 7th, 2010
9:52 am

Let Joe walk and let’s grow some nuts and go get Dwayne Wade. This team needs someone who is a great vocal leader and has the talent to boot. Or get Avery Johnson who knows how to teach GOOD offense and he’s energetic enough to keep this team motivated. Joe and Mike have been great on rebuilding this franchise, but if we want to get to the next level we need guys who can get people fired up and who know how to stay motivated at all times. Yes Dwayne and Avery will cost more money, but just imagine the potential.