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Tag:Joe Johnson
Posted on: April 22, 2011 10:38 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 10:48 pm
 

Pachulia and Richardson ejected for fighting

Posted by Royce Young



We were building to this point. At some point, the Magic and Hawks were going to rumble.

Finally it happened in Game 3 with 2:22 left in the fourth quarter. Zaza Pachulia fouled Dwight Howard hard, Howard flung his arms, Jason Richardson came to defend Howard after Pachulia took exception to Howard and off we went. Pachulia was right in Richardson's face apparently yelling "What? What?" and with the motion of his head seemed to headbutt Richardson. Immediately, Richardson threw and open-handed push to the face at Pachulia.

After the officials reviewed the play, both Pachulia and Richardson were ejected with "fighting" fouls. Howard was assessed a technical because of hanging his elbow out.

Obviously the NBA will review this incident and it's likely both Pachulia and Richardson will be hit with suspensions. Will the NBA punish Howard for the elbow? Remember that he was suspended a game in the postseason in 2009 for one, which was widely criticized.

Pachulia defended Howard extremely well in the post all game long, holding the MVP candidate to just 21 points. Howard averaged 39.5 the first two games. Pachulia is notorious for getting under player's skin and he certainly has with Howard. The follow-through from Howard was pretty clearly intentional and it set Pachulia off. Howard takes a beating every night and at times, does a poor job of containing his frustration. It set off this chain of events which will likely put Richardson and Pachulia on the bench for a big Game 4.

Atlanta went on to win 88-84 after a huge Jamal Crawford 3 to take a 2-1 series lead.
Posted on: April 22, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 2:52 pm
 

Series Reset Hawks-Magic: The art of Smoove

The series the public forgot shifts back to Atlanta for Games 3 and 4 tied. We reset the series and wonder about J-Smoove, Horford, J.J. and more. 
Posted by Matt Moore

The Narrative: Is there something to be said for the Hawks losing Game 2 in a close one, despite playing terribly? Is there something to be said for Orlando winning despite not shooting well? Is it a good thing or a bad thing that Dwight Howard dominated in the first two games for the Magic but they were solidly beaten in one game and squeaked it out? Can Atlanta hope for their mediocre shooting to improve, or is this who they are, and Game 1 was a deviation? 

We don't really know the answers to all that at this point. Magic fans are banking on Atlanta shooting like they did in Game 2 while Orlando's offense opens up like a flower in bloom. Hawks fans are banking on the shooting returning to an even decent level while their defense continues to hold everyone not named Howard in check. It's ridiculously simple, actually. The Hawks' matchup advantages counter Orlando's star power. So it comes down to shooting. The Hawks can beat the Magic shooting a percentage over what Atlanta usually holds teams to, but can't if they continue to sit in the freezer. The Magic can regain the series advantage by shooting somewhat close to what they usually do as long as Orlando can hit water from a boat. 

It really does just come down to making shots. 

The Hook: Josh Smith can do what he wants. He really can. Brandon Bass has no shot at guarding him. Ryan Anderson has no shot at guarding him. Hedo Turkoglu did a good job for a long stretch in the second half of Game 2, but in reality, again, Smith has the advantage. The only thing that can stop Josh Smith, really, is himself. In Game 1 he took two 3-pointers. In Game 2, he took four. This isn't a big differential, except that every shot Smith takes from the perimeter is one more he's not taking inside or at the rim. Smith has taken considerable leaps to tone down his penchant for perimeter shooting, but when he drifts back into that, the Hawks lose a valuable weapon.

Here's a look at Smith's possessions in Game 1 vs. Game 2, via Synergy Sports. 

Josh Smith possessions Game 1 Game 2
Post-Up 4 3
Transition 2 2
Pick and Roll 2 2
Spot-Up 3 6
ISO 3 1


Now, Smith's probably the only Hawk you can look at and say, "Man, that guy should really go ISO one one one. The Hawks are an ISO factory. But Smith's one of the only ones with a clear advantage man-up, physically. Most concerning though, is that big glaring "6" in the Spot-Up row for Game 2. If Josh Smith is shooting spot-up jumpers, there's something wrong with the world. Or the Hawks. More specifically, the Hawks. Another few possessions for the Hawks where Smith is aggressive, and they might be coming home with a 2-0 lead. Smith has to stay aggressive or the Hawks are going back into the offensive swamp again. 

The Adjustment: Head coach Larry Drew got blasted by just about everyone for benching Al Horford for almost the entire first half after he picked up early foul trouble. Don't get me wrong, that was a terrible decision, but Horford just didn't have it in that game. He didn't shoot well, and struggled even to overcome Brandon Bass in the post. This isn't to say Drew was correct, he wasn't. But Drew has bigger issues than just Horford's minutes. He needs to get a strategy for defending Dwight Howard and stick to it. Jason Collins finished with three fouls. Zaza Pachulia finished with four. Hilton Armstrong with two. Al Horford with two. The idea of making Dwight Howard beat you by his lonesome isn't a bad strategy. It's actually a pretty good one. But it's got to be done using the line. If two of those four players don't foul out by the end of the game, Drew has coached badly. Howard's a terrible free throw shooter. If they're not going to double on him to contain him, they have to at least make him work at the weakest part of his game to beat them. 

The X-Factor: J.J. Redick hasn't shot well as he recovers from injury. That's going to change at some point. If not him, then Chris Duhon. If not either of those players, then Gilbert Arenas, should he see the floor. One of the Magic's guards has to get warm at some point, and they need to have their trigger fingers ready. The Hawks have been running off the 3-point shot well in this series and the Magic seem to have no interest in making the extra pass. If they get the ball, the guards need to shoot. 

The biggest reason the Magic need this is to counter Jamal Crawford. The Magic can't keep getting blasted by Crawford and Johnson with no significant contributions outside of Jameer Nelson and possible Jason Richardson. There's got to be some effort to balance the scale, which puts more emphasis on Howard, which is what the Magic want. 

The Sticking Point: It's a counter-intuitive mismatch of offenses. The Hawks' ISO heavy weaponry against the Magic's one-pass-and-done kick-outs. The Hawks have to keep running off the three, while the Magic have to try and stick the Hawks' weapons on the perimeter. Everyone's laughing at the lack of ball movement by Atlanta, but the thing is, they're able to get those shots off against opponents who don't have a good capability of defending them. The Magic have been frozen from the arc, comparatively, but you have to believe those shots will eventually fall. How that tug of war ends up will decide the next two games in Atlanta. 
Posted on: April 20, 2011 2:47 am
Edited on: April 20, 2011 3:15 am
 

NBA Playoffs Hawks-Magic: Game 2 Reactions

Reactions from around the web from Hawks-Magic Game 2. 
Posted by Matt Moore



In the second half, Atlanta tried everything to make up the deficit.

After sitting out for most of the first half, it was clear that Larry Drew was going to try everything in his power to get Al Horford involved offensively. Larry Drew did just that, as he immediately called for Horford to get the basketball on the low block-and-go to work against Brandon Bass. However, even though Bass got beat a few times, he put up a great stand against Horford defensively and held his ground more often than not. Horford is a strong player, no question about it, but Bass’ lower-body strength allowed him to dig in the trenches. Horford tried all that he could to overwhelm Bass, but he couldn’t do it.
via Recap: Orlando Magic 88, Atlanta Hawks 82 | Magic Basketball .

This turn of events was really significant. When the mid-range jumpers were failing in the first half, Drew turned to Horford in the block. The Magic even brought help but Horford was rightfully focused on taking Bass on offense (he should have been able to based on scouting reports) and couldn't kick start the perimeter rotation. Not that the Hawks run any sort of perimeter ball movement, but even the theoretical was thwarted. Horford has to be a huge factor in this series if Howard's not guarding or spying him weak-side. He's got  to produce as he did in Game 1, even if that means using the mid-range jumper. It was a good example of the Magic's improved defense on the night. 
Orlando's head coach used only Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu at point guard after halftime, leaving Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon benched. The decision forced the usually gun-shy Turkoglu to play more aggressively, and though he missed 12 of his 16 shots, he a least ran the offense well and made proper passes. The 6-foot-10 matchup nightmare dished 5 of the Magic's 9 assists, with just 1 turnover, in splitting his 39 minutes between small forward and point guard. If Gilbert Arenas, who's struggled mightily since coming to Orlando in a midseason trade with the Washington Wizards, is out of the Magic's rotation, you bet your sweet behind that's news. For what it's worth, Arenas shot 1-of-3 from the field, with 1 rebound and 1 turnover, in 6 minutes.
via Orlando Magic 88, Atlanta Hawks 83 - Orlando Pinstriped Post .
Turkoglu had a fantastic game for a guy who shot 4-16 from the field. A shortening of rotations is expected in the playoffs, but an abandonment of Arenas is pretty big. That makes Arenas a $17 million towel-waver. But you also can't blame SVG for going this route. Turkoglu has the best pick and roll chemistry with Howard. In Game 1, the Magic ran zero plays for the pick-and-roll with the ball going to the roll man. In Game 2, they ran four such plays, with three to Dwight Howard. The result? Foul drawn, layup and-one, dunk. The Magic ran those plays in the first half. They did not return to them in the second half. The Magic do run sets out of the pick and roll to the post for Howard, but with Howard's physical and athletic talents, you have to ponder at why in the name of Brian Hill the Magic don't go to that set more often. 
In Game 2, the Hawks shot much worse and had a chance to win despite Larry Drew. It was a terribly wasted opportunity but, if Drew can either commit to playing his best players until they are disqualified or not play his worst players until absolutely necessary, the Hawks, in possession of home court advantage, can still conceivably win this series. Which is rather amazing considering they were outscored over the course of the 82 game season and their head coach either didn't try his hardest or proved himself obscenely incompetent in one half of their playoff games.
via Hoopinion: Atlanta Hawks analysis. Run on pessimism and truth.: Orlando Magic 88 Atlanta Hawks 82 .

There was a lot of talk about the rotations. Collins didn't play much. Horford was sat with two fouls until the half and finished with two fouls as noted by Hoopinion. But the bigger question in my mind was why, in a series where the Hawks have such advantages in terms of the athletic personnel like Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford who can play big and in space, the Hawks are slowing the ball down. The question came to me after Game 2. If you flipped coaching staffs in this series, even with Dwight Howard the best overall player in the series, wouldn't the Hawks be an overwhelming favorite? If the Hawks had any semblance of discipline and systemic value with this roster as constructed, wouldn't this look like a clear advantage for the Hawks in terms of matchups and overall ability? 

If the Hawks win this series, it's going to seem like they did so despite Larry Drew, not because of him. That's how it's played out in the first two games. 
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.”
via Hawks lose to Magic but prove something in process | Jeff Schultz .

Here's an interesting one. The Hawks had 13 rebounds and 15 second-chance points. The Magic had 20 offensive rebounds and 20 second-chance points. So the Hawks were actually more effective when they did get offensive rebounds than the Magic were. But the question still has to be asked. 

What are you saving Al Horford for? Horford's not a streak shooter you want available late. He's the consistent, productive, efficient player that anchors the team and can prevent them from turning into the ISO-heavy disaster they are so often on offense. Two fouls? This is the playoffs. You can't be timid with your best players' minutes. You have depth for a reason. Drew buried himself with this decision.
Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson woke up with a migraine headache on Tuesday morning, causing him to sit out shootaround and putting his status into question leading up to the Magic’s playoff game against the Hawks.

He went straight home after shootaround and laid down for several hours. Nelson took some medicine before declaring himself OK to play.

Nelson even considered wearing the migraine sunglasses Miami’s Dwyane Wade wore earlier this season, but “my teammates were laughing at me,” he said.

Asked how he felt a few minutes ago, Nelson said, “sleepy.”

He should be OK moving forward, but it’s at least something to monitor.
via Jameer Nelson played through migraine vs. Hawks – Orlando Magic BasketBlog – Orlando Sentinel .

This just makes Kirk Hinrich's night that much worse. The Magic played terrific defense. The fact that their starting point guard was having such pain and they still executed says a lot. It also speaks volumes about benching Duhon and Arenas. 
 


Posted on: April 20, 2011 12:59 am
Edited on: April 20, 2011 3:06 am
 

NBA Playoffs Hawks-Magic: A return of logic

Magic tie the series up with the Hawks by locking down. It's becoming clear this will be system vs. players to the death. 
Posted by Matt Moore




We told you in the Series Reset the Magic defense would likely get back on track, but the mismatches would remain in place. And, heavens to Betsy, we got one right. The Magic held the Hawks to 40 percent shooting; just 7-20 from the arc. The Magic won the rebounding battle 52-39. They gathered 43 percent of all available offensive rebounds. They earned 36 free throws compared to just 17 for the Hawks. 

They won by just six. 

Now, the important thing here is that they won. A loss would have buried them in an 0-2 hole going back to Atlanta. Even the Hawks' terrible home-court advantage couldn't keep them from a series win in that scenario. The Magic responded with a defensive firestorm in Game 2, and that, combined with a terrible shooting night for the Hawks, was enough to lift them to victory. If the Hawks' exceedingly high shooting percentages in Game 1 were an aberration, than Game 2 was one of those painful situations where everything they put up was either brilliantly defended or just rimmed off. But if you wanted a good indication of the impact the Magic's defense had... Go big and go fast. 

Go big.  The Magic obviously dominated the glass. Dwight Howard was in rare form again. Just as he did in Game 1, Howard dominated the glass, just ripping the ball out of the Hawks' paws. But more impactful was what he did to interior drive attempts. When the Hawks looped to the basket, Howard was there. Twice Joe Johnson posted Hedo Turkoglu, spun around him and had a very makeable high-glass floater. Twice he had to adjust to get it over Howard's outstretched arms, and the result was a miss. Offensively, the Magic didn't dominate the points in the paint -- it was only a 36-32 advantage for Orlando -- but the Hawks shot themselves in the foot by shooting just 50 percent from short range. A grind-it-out, tough game, where one side has a dominant performance from the best center in the league... That's good enough for a win. 




Go fast . The Magic's transition defense gets a gold star here. They cut off passing lanes, shut off driving lanes, and scummed up any chance for the Hawks to get out in transition. Not that the Hawks' really made a concerted effort. Too often the Hawks elected to settle down. You would think Larry Drew would recognize that the Hawks' biggest advantage is in getting away from Howard on the break and using their superior athleticism. You would think he'd recognize that, but you'd be wrong. Regardless, the Magic were disciplined and relentless. The Hawks had seven fast break points the entire game on 2-6 shooting. 

The Magic's offense? Still missing. The Hawks' matchup advantages? Still there (Josh Smith 17 points, Jamal Crawford 25 points). But the Magic reasserted some of their own with Jameer Nelson edging Kirk Hinrich (who couldn't hit water if he fell out of a submarine in the middle of a deep-sea trench Tuesday night). But systemically the Magic got what they needed. The Hawks got their win in Orlando and now head back to Atlanta. 

System vs. Personnel. The battle continues. We've told you again and again. This one is going to be long and tough. And even in a loss, you have to wonder if the momentum doesn't lie with Atlanta. 
Posted on: April 19, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 3:38 pm
 

Series Reset: Atlanta has to keep up

The Hawks took out the Magic in every phase of the game except guarding Dwight Howard. What trends are we seeing as the series moves forward Tuesday night?
Posted by Matt Moore




The Narrative:   The Magic likely assumed they would win because they're the better team and because Atlanta has been so mediocre over the past two seasons, especially down the stretch. But somewhere in there, they overlooked the matchup advantages that Atlanta enjoys in this series. Dwight Howard is not a matchup problem, he's a fact of life. The Hawks are going to lose that battle no matter what. He's the best center in the league. Atlanta's matchup advantages come in lesser known areas. Like Josh Smith versus whatever slow, perimeter-based forward the Magic want to put on him. Or how well Kirk Hinrich matches up with Jameer Nelson (despite his 27 points, a good chunk of which were not defended by Hinrich). Orlando has to figure out a way to get the entire offense involved. They didn't in Game 1, and they sunk to the bottom of the sea even as Dwight Howard demolished everything in his path. Unless they get equal contributions from the other players, the Hawks may just resign themselves to getting dunked on while keeping the perimeter in check. 

The Hook: The Atlanta Hawks took 24 shots at the rim, or within nine feet of the rim . They took 27 shots from 16-23 feet. They were efficient down low, don't get me wrong, shooting 63 percent in that area, but they took an obscene amount of shots from mid-range. And, while they made 48 percent from that distance, that's simply not something you can count on in any basketball game. I mean, look at Al Horford's shot chart for crying out loud. 



(Click on the image for more from our GameTracker, Game 1 .)

That's just not production you can count on. Or is it? Horford shot 53 percent from the field in the regular season from 16-23 feet . If the Magic keep letting him hit from space, Horford's going to eventually force them out, which opens up passing lanes. This is a pretty big concern. That's five of their 13 makes from range right there. You have to think the Hawks will try and even out their production at some point, but they may want to take their chances with what worked in Game 1.


The Adjustment: According to Synergy Sports , you know how many pick and roll plays the Magic ran? 31. You know how many wound up in the hands of the roll man? None. Zip, zero, zilch. That makes Dwight Howard's night more impressive, but it also means a few things. One, if you go back and watch, the Hawks are closing two to three defenders on Howard or whoever the roll man is. Two, that adjustment means that the Magic, had they opted to, would have had an open shooter off the second pass on the pick, drive and kick. But instead, they just launched. Nelson comes off the screen, he kicks out, catch and shoot. Except that they were rushing all those shots. They had the opportunity to spin the ball when the Hawks started to try and recover, but instead just let it fly. The result? Brick city. 

The Magic are at their best not when they're just launching threes, but when they're actually creating stupendously open shots from their ball rotation. That's how they beat the Celtics and Cavaliers in 2009, and going away from that strategy in 2010 hurt them, as it's hurting them now. They have experienced, competent passers and shooters on the perimeter. The Magic need to slow down their decision making, not their pace, and work to create the best shot possible. Do that and their perimeter game will finally start to click. 

The X-Factor: Joe Johnson. Johnson should be the focal point of Orlando's defense, right? After all, he's their All-Star (along with Horford), and as close as it gets to a star player. Johnson went ISO 13 times in Game 1. He was 6 of 10 scoring, drew two fouls and had one turnover. The degree to which Atlanta puts Johnson in ISO tends to be a source of mockery for them, but you need someone to make tough buckets in the playoffs, and Johnson can do that when he's on. Furthermore, the Magic have nobody to guard him. Jason Richardson can't stick him, neither can J.J. Redick, Turkoglu, or the other wings. He's a nightmare, and when he's on, he can cause severe damage in a series. Just ask the Celtics. 

The Sticking Point: The Magic were knocked back defensively in Game 1. But this is one of the best defenses in the league. They were knocked back offensively. And they're one of the most dangerous offensive units. At home, down 1-0, you would expect things to get back on track. But this series has already shown a series of matchup problems for the Magic. Joe Johnson said after Game 1 that this isn't the same team they faced last year at all. And that much has become apparent, when you look at the player-versus-player breakdown. But, overall team strength has to come into play at some point, and the tug-of-war between those two elements will likely end up decidiing this series. 


Posted on: April 18, 2011 12:16 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 4:16 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Buzz 4.18.11: Wade's status and more

Posted by Matt Moore
  • Roddy Beaubois' status for Game 2 is still up in the air. He shot at practice for the Mavs Monday, but it's unknown as to if he will play. Caron Butler, who has really focused on getting back for the postseason, has expanded his workouts to more intense shooting but it's still unclear as to if he'll be able to make a return this postseason.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 1:44 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 6:02 pm
 

NBA Playoff Buzz 4.17.11

Posted by EOB Staff 

Continuing updates throughout the day on playoff miscelanea.  

  • The Hawks' Joe Johnson says that the Magic are a "totally different team" from when they faced them last year in the playoffs. That's true from a lot of perspectives, but that might be used as bulletin board material. They are, literally a different team in terms of roster, so, there's that. 
  • Wild sequence to end the first half in Los Angeles. Kobe went down and appeared to hit his head on a fan's knee, then Chris Paul drained a 3. THEN Ron Artest hit a halfcourt shot while everyone was looking at Kobe. Here's the video of it.
  • The Palm Beach Post reports that Mike Miller's thumb injury could be "worse than the team, or he, has been letting on." Miller only said “Not touching that” and "we'll make it through.”
  • During the first quarter of Game 1 between the Lakers and Hornets, Lisa Salters said that Kobe Bryant told her "I used to beat up a lot of kids even in high school who used to tease my friends because they were gay." This was a follow up to a recent controversy in which Bryant used an anti-gay slur in reference to a referee that drew a $100,000 fine from the NBA.
  • The Memphis Grizzlies secured their first ever franchise victory by downing the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. Here's video of a clutch Shane Battier three that pushed Memphis over the top. The win comes much to the delight of Memphis Grizzlies fans who gathered at the FedEx Forum for a viewing party. Here's a picture of the group ... that appears to number about 40 people.
  • San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, always known for his zingers, says on the TNT broadcast that Kevin McHale, working the color commentary for Spurs/Grizzlies, "doesn't know what the hell he's talking about." 
  • Grizzlies-Spurs underway without Manu, as reported yesterday. Memphis with an early lead, but it's been really physical. 
  • Tony Allen suffered a calf strain against the Spurs in the second quarter. His return is probable . The Spurs' side of the floor has seen a ton of slips by both teams. They need towels.
Posted on: April 16, 2011 10:54 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 2:47 am
 

NBA Playoffs Hawks-Magic: Howard not enough

Dwight Howard has a historic performance... and it wasn't enough as the Hawks take Game 1. 
Posted by Matt Moore




In 2007, Kobe Bryant scored the following point totals in the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Phoenix Suns: 39, 15, 45, 31, 34. The Lakers lost in five. They managed to push the Suns to seven games the year before, but still fell. And the strategy was more than apparent, and is what led the Lakers to become so aggressive the following year. And, it's what nearly cost them Kobe Bryant in a trade demand before Andrew Bynum developed and Pau Gasol was delivered for $1.50 and some lint. The strategy was simple: Kobe gets his, no one else does. They essentially surrendered bucket after bucket to Mamba (before he was called that) and shut down his underwhelming, unworthy teammates. It became a standard approach in the league in guarding Bryant, until he wound up with Pau Gasol, Andre Bynum at full strength, Derek Fisher came back and Lamar Odom's head got screwed on. Then everyone was just doomed (hence the two titles).

More on Hawks at Magic
 
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On Saturday night, the Atlanta Hawks employed the same strategy on Dwight Howard, and the result was eerily similar in the Hawks' 103-93 win over Orlando . Howard scored 31 in the first half, and finished with 46. He had 19 rebounds. And the Magic lost. In the first half, the Magic went to Howard consistently. In part because the Hawks were helpless to stop him. You name the defender, we can show the highlight. Jason Collins. Zaza Pachulia. Even Etan Thomas got a turn (and a vicious block from Howard). Howard hit the whole array. Alley-oops. Offensive rebound put-backs. Hook shots. Jumpers. The works. But in part, the Magic went to Howard as consistently because the rest of the team was a bunch of popsicles. It was a truly terrible offensive performance for a team that relies on its shooting. 

So when the second half came around, the Hawks went to a different approach. They started fouling Howard more aggressively. Howard finished the first half 8-9 from the line. There was literally no way to stop him. Second half? 6-13. That's seven more points he left on the board. The Magic still would have lost, but it should be noted, because that was a subtle correction the Hawks made. Let Howard do whatever he wants for 24 minutes while you focus on getting the shooters out of rhythm. Then make him earn it at the line in the second half. Throw in some frustrating physical play that led to Howard's first technical, and it was one of the most disappointing 45-point playoff performances in NBA playoff history. Disappointing for Howard, not because of him. There wasn't much more Howard could have done. We can point out the missed free throws, but Howard still hit 64% of his shots from the stripe. But to have that kind of a performance and lose? Unheard of. 

As a matter of fact, in 20 years, no player has dropped 45 points and 19 rebounds in the playoffs. Howard was the first. And he still wound up with the L.




The loss was a complicated combination of the Magic's supporting players having an outright miserable performance, Kirk Hinrich having a better-than-expected game, and Josh Smith dominating a matchup we thought he would . The Magic have to improve on offense, defense, in transition, in the half-court and in terms of composure. Dwight Howard did everything he could, the Magic have to step up in support.

Oh, and one last thing before notes. In 2009, the Magic put themselves on the NBA map by downing the Celtics and then the best team in the East that season, the Cleveland Cavaliers. They did so by letting LeBron James go off for whatever he wanted, and shutting down all the rest of the Cavaliers. The Magic got a strong dose of that in Game 1 vs. the Hawks. 

A few other notes: 

  • Kirk Hinrich finished with a quiet 13 points on 6-10 shooting, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. But his impact was so much bigger. Even with Jameer Nelson going off for 20 points in the third quarter, Hinrich played excellent defense, knocked down shots, and prevented Nelson from dominating the matchup like he did against the Hawks in 2010. 
  • Jamal Crawford was 4-7 from the arc, including a dagger at the end of the game with 18 seconds left on the shot clock. 
  • Jason Richardson: 4 points on 2-8 shooting, 0-4 from the arc. The word there is: curtains. 
  • The Magic can survive Josh Smith abusing its forwards. They can handle Al Horford dismantling their forwards from range. They can't handle both. 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com