• My Scores
  • NHL
  • NFL
  • NBA
  • Golf

Magic don't use tricks to get back in, just 3s

by | Special to CBSSports.com

ORLANDO -- Hit me with your best shot? That hardly seems necessary for either the Orlando Magic or Atlanta Hawks in their first-round playoff series.

Hit me with just about any shot apparently will do.

The Magic made a few in the first half for the first time in this series and then trotted home the final three quarters with a 101-76 rout of the punchless Hawks.

Except for a few moments of offensive brilliance from J.J. Redick and the Magic finally making their usual quota of 3-point shots (11 of 26), this was another sample of mediocrity from two teams playing the most unwatchable series of the playoffs.

Orlando made it ugly while losing three of the first four games by shooting an unsightly 40.3 percent from the field and a laughable 21.9 percent from 3-point territory. They weren't a whole lot prettier Tuesday night, shooting 41 percent from the field and 42.3 from beyond the arc, but that was a thing of beauty compared to Atlanta's woeful offense.

More on Hawks-Magic
Matt Moore Matt Moore
Magic open floodgates with slew of treys to stay alive Read More >>
Related links
2011 NBA Playoffs More playoffs coverage
Bracket, sked | Scores
Playoffs stats | Latest news

The Hawks misfired right out of the chute, hitting 3 of 19 from the field with eight turnovers in the first quarter. Then it got worse.

Atlanta trailed by 23 at halftime, as much as 32 in the second half and never cut the deficit under 21 in the last two quarters. Only one of the Hawks starters, Josh Smith, hit double figures, scoring 18 points.

The Hawks were so bad that it brought back memories of the 2010 Atlanta playoff team that got routed four consecutive times by Orlando.

"I am always referring back to our series with Orlando and the way they dominated us last year," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "This was an opportunity to take a really big step, to come up against a team that dominated us and close out the series on their home court and we lose our composure. We come unglued in the first quarter and lose our poise."

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy wasn't exactly bragging after the 25-point victory, and rightfully so. His team trails 3-2 and can be eliminated in Game 6 on Thursday night in Atlanta.

"There won't be any celebrating," Van Gundy said. "Basically, all we did was cut the deficit to 3-2. It's like being in a game and cutting your deficit from 20 to 12. So what."

Of course, there were a few positives for Van Gundy's team heading to Atlanta.

For one, Redick made consecutive shots, something no one other than Dwight Howard has been able to do for the Magic in this series. In fact, Redick made his first five shots of the game, in the last five minutes of the first quarter. That all too rare moment of brilliance helped the Magic build a one-point lead into a 13-point advantage ... with Howard on the bench the whole time.

"That was a big moment, the turning point in the game, really," said Magic forward Ryan Anderson, whose three 3-pointers in the game were one more than he had in the first four games of the series. "That got the crowd into it and was a great spark for all of us. When you see somebody finally making shots, it definitely gives you a lift."

Howard, who has averaged 45 minutes in the first four games, was needed for only 29 in this game. He had eight points, 24 under his series average and eight rebounds, 9.5 fewer than he has averaged so far.

"That was good to see," Van Gundy said. "We made a pretty good run when he was out, we held our own on the boards, so yeah, that was a positive."

"We played the way we should have been playing the whole series," Howard said.

The negative for both teams is that neither has played much more than two quarters of good basketball in any game. Atlanta won three of the first four games by getting Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford in mismatches on the perimeter that got both open shots, which they made.

Orlando made some adjustments, challenging both players further out on the perimeter and denying them many open looks in the game. Johnson and Crawford, who have averaged 44 points between them in the series, combined for only 13 in Game 5.

"This was just one game, we're still in the driver's seat," Crawford said. "You can't get comfortable. They were the aggressors in this game. We have to be the aggressors in Game 6."

The Magic, on the other hand, have won two games in which they shot a combined 38 percent (61 of 161). They relaxed noticeably when the 3-pointers started falling, but it's going to have to happen early in the game again for them to win in Atlanta for the first time in four tries this season.

"The way we shot the 3 tonight is who we are," Van Gundy said. "It's not an aberration. It's not like 'Oh my God, the Magic made some 3s!' We've been doing that for four years.

"We'll have to play well on virtually every possession for the next two games. We haven't given ourselves any escape room, but we can do it."


Biggest Stories

CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
Conversation powered by Livefyre


Most Popular