Magic 106 Hawks 102

Boxscore

Gameflow

Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ORL 96.6 1.10 55.6 36.1 21.1 18.6
ATL 96.6 1.06 52.4 16.7 20.5 13.5

In lieu of my own confused feelings about the game, I'll begin with a quote from Mike Woodson for which I have no complaint or (would be) clever rejoinder:

"You can't wait three quarters to decide you want to play. We were just awful, I thought, in the first three quarters.''

That nails it. As does the corresponding quote from Stan Van Gundy (though his perspective is obviously buoyed by the addition of one to Orlando's victory column):

"The fourth quarter was not a thing of beauty. I think we pushed our starters too much in the second night of a back-to-back. But I'm not going to quibble. This is a very good win against a very good team."

I'd be lying if I said I had handle on this game.

  • Did Josh Smith have a good game (21 points on 15 shots, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers) or a bad game (0 points, 2 rebounds, -12 over 13:44 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters)?
  • Did Flip Murray get the Hawks back in the game (10 points in 12 second half minutes) or did he prevent the comeback from fully flowering (2 turnovers, 2 missed, misguided jump shots, and a missed free throw in the final 7 of those 12 minutes)?
  • Were the Hawks terrible defensively (Orlando scored 1.21 points per possession through three quarters) or just terribly inconsistent (Orlando score 0.79 point per possession in the fourth quarter while Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu combined to miss all 9 of their field goal attempts)?
  • What amount of credit do the Hawks deserve for coming back in a game wherein they didn't defend for three quarters, missed 44 percent of their free throws, and Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby combined to shoot 11-34?
  • What degree of blame* do they deserve for not playing defense until they fell 21 points behind and for not making their free throws?

*I don't think blame is the right word with regard to Bibby and Johnson shooting the ball. They took very few bad shots. They just didn't hit anything. Bibby's blown layup down 4 with 55 seconds left was a killer but I have trouble conflating that fuke, physical error with a team-wide free throw embargo.

At Third Quarter Collapse, Ben Q. Rock has a similarly mixed take from the victors' perspective:

As tremendous as this win is for Orlando--it, coupled with the Boston Celtics' loss to the Houston Rockets, brings them to within a half-game of Boston for the second seed in the Eastern Conference--it's important to note that it could have fairly easily been an embarrassing defeat. The Magic led by as many as 21 points in the game, and if the Hawks had simply managed to convert more often from the foul line (they finished a miserable 14-of-25) they may have eked-out the win. It's also important for Orlando to not get too pleased with itself.

Professional writer John Hollinger encapsulates in a single paragraph what took me four questions, two quotes, and a Pozterisk above:

But Bibby's miss was the perfect metaphor for an ugly night for the Hawks. They shot 14-of-25 from the line, ceded a 60-point first half, and oddly sat Al Horford for a nine-minute stretch of the second half even though he had only one foul and Zaza Pachulia was out with the flu.

Regarding Zaza's absence (and that of Acie Law IV), Thomas Stinson of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Suffering from flu-like symptoms, Pachulia stayed home Wednesday night. Also unavailable was point guard Acie Law IV, who left the team to tend to an ailing family member.

The Human Highlight Blog has lots of stuff from the game last night.

Same teams, different location on Friday night. Stan Van Gundy's already made a prediction:

"Tonight they missed. I don't anticipate they they'll do that two nights in a row. When they play us Friday, it could be a tough night."

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