Magic/Hawks Game 1 Recap
Magic hand Hawks an old fashioned ass whopping.
by Nada Taha Moslehy
With more than five minutes left in the 4th quarter, there were more empty seats in the Amway Arena Tuesday night then there were bodies filling them. And for once, it wasn’t because the home team was making a mockery of itself. This time, the crowd had seen the Orlando Magic do everything it possibly could in one game.
Dwight Howard didn’t foul out. Jameer Nelson drove in for reverse layups. Mickael Pietrus (who sprained his ankle Sunday during practice) went flying for an alley-oop. The Magic held the Hawks to 34.6 percent shooting and sent them home with a 43-point blowout loss.
The Hawks looked like they had clipped their wings as they struggled to find the basket or play defense on the other end of the court in the 114-71 loss. Point guard Mike Bibby was held to just 2 points, Joe Johnson was 0-4 from beyond the arc and Al Horford was a polar opposite of Howard with just 4 points on 1-7 from the field.
The game started off just as was expected – Orlando was off the mark a little after eight games and Atlanta started a bit sluggish after a seven-game series. The first quarter ended with just a 2-point Orlando lead.
But then, Dwight happened. He caught a layup attempt mid-air with one hand, sent it to Jason Williams who threw it up to Pietrus for an alley-oop dunk to set the crowd on fire. It was a downward spiral for Atlanta from then on. The Magic went on a 17-0 run and Atlanta could only muster up 10 and 11 points in the second and third quarters.
“We had no juice tonight,” Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. “We’ll have to go back and regroup. We didn’t play well. We didn’t play Atlanta Hawk basketball tonight. It was an ugly game for us on both ends of the floor.”
But Woodson wouldn’t use the word “tired” as an excuse. He needed to look up the word “adjustment,” however.
The word of the week for the Magic was “focus.” While media pundits, naysayers and even fans predicted a tight Game 1 due to their eight-day layoff, rust was left on the Orlando locker room floor.
Jameer Nelson, fresh from a strong first-round series, continued his streak with 19 points, while Orlando’s other all-stars – Dwight and Carter – chipped in with 21 and 20, respectively.
To the Hawks, “it was an embarrassment.” So much so that they sent backup center Zaza Pachulia to the podium to face the media. Where were their star players now? Where were they all game?
Howard enjoyed finally being a part of a post-season win for his team. After fouling out of two games and averaging a little more than 9 points and 9 rebounds against Charlotte, Superman came out the gate strong and was only whistled for one foul the entire first half.
But their blowout is still just one game, according to the entire Magic team, especially coach Stan Van Gundy.
“I told them that (Wednesday) I will have for them virtually every time in NBA Playoff history that a team had a blowout win, came back and lost the next game,” Van Gundy said. “You’ve got to forget what happened.”
They’re going to need a bout of Alzheimer’s to erase this massacre from their memories.