Magic out hustle Hawks on way to victory
The Orlando Magic continued their recent dominance over the Atlanta Hawks, squeaking out a 93-89 victory in front of their home crowd. On a night when the jump shots weren’t falling, especially three pointers (4-22), the squad had to lean on superstar Dwight Howard as well as rely on tremendous energy from the bench players. Dwight finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds and only one of his made shots was from a dunk. His offensive game is clearly expanding and the production is showing on the floor. The real key tonight though was the hustle shown from the bench. It’s tough to pick up from the box score but Marcin Gortat, J.J. Redick and Jason Williams were diving all over the floor and the grit they showed tonight, helped propel the Magic back from an early deficit. The Magic trailed 19-6 during the first quarter and Dwight picked up 2 early fouls. The game turned around once the second unit came onto the floor and by the end of the half, the Magic led by 4, 51-47. This Hawks team is definitely improved from last season as their ball movement has increased and they are looking to run Joe Johnson’s Contract off a lot more screens. The Hawks will likely have a similar strong record like they did last year, but keep in mind that this game was close despite the Magic being without Jameer Nelson (sprained ankle).
The game remained close down to the final minute, when Vince Carter stepped up and took two hard drives to the basket which resulted in buckets. The way the Magic closed the game tonight, with aggressive defense and an aggressive Vince, is going to be paramount to the team’s ultimate success. With the win the Magic improved to 5-1 on the season and the Hawks fell to 6-2.
More notes and quick tidbits from tonight’s game after the jump:
- Ryan Anderson started again tonight at the PF position, with Rashard Lewis starting at SF. So far, in the two games that Ryan has started, the Magic have gotten off to terrible starts. In the first game, Ryan never returned to the game and tonight he didn’t come back until the start of the second half. The offense seems to get stagnant with Ryan and Rashard both staying outside the 3-point line and nobody moving to create shots. It’s a small sample size, but the returns have not been great thus far.
- With that being said, expect Stan Van Gundy to continue tinkering with his starting lineup and rotations. It is rare to see an NBA coach treat his squad the way an MLB manager would, but that isn’t to say that it won’t work. The NBA season is a grind just like the MLB season is and you want everyone on your roster to know that they can be called on at any second. Unless your name is Daniel Orton.
- Dwight Howard was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week today for his performance last week where he averaged 23.3 points, 13.4 rebounds and led the Magic to a 3-0 record. He certainly didn’t disappoint tonight either with his 27 points and strong interior defense.
- As mentioned above, Jameer Nelson sat out tonight’s game as he still nurses his sprained ankle back to health. That gave Jason Williams more of an opportunity to push Chris Duhon for the backup PG minutes. Duhon played OK in the first half and distributed the ball well, but Jason Williams played outstanding tonight. J-Will played with energy and was making plays on the court where Duhon was just going unnoticed. In the 4th quarter when it mattered, SVG went with Jason Williams.
- Josh Smith continues to have the worst body language in the NBA. If you were having a draft based on piss-poor body language, I have to think Josh Smith would go first. It’s really a toss up between him and Kendrick Perkins. Needless to say, I would like to here on out refer to Josh Smith as Josh Smith’s Body Language, much like Joe Johnson and his contract.
- Rich DeVos was sitting courtside again tonight, supporting his Magic. It really is a spectacle when you see him behind the scenes as he moves at about 1/2 MPH and always has a serious old man posse with him. It’s intense to say the least.
The next Magic game is Wednesday night at home against the Utah Jazz. The game is slated to start at 7PM and will be televised on ESPN.