Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard battle for a rebound in the Orlando Magic's 123-112 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.
Photo by Fernando Medina, NBAE/Getty Images
The Orlando Magic shot the lights out against the Atlanta Hawks at the Amway Arena on Monday night. Their 74 first-half points tied a franchise record for points in a half. The Hawks had no answer for Hedo Turkoglu or Dwight Howard, who each finished with monster games. If tonight's win shows us anything, it's that we're a very dangerous team when our supporting cast brings its A-Game. Keith Bogans and Carlos Arroyo combined for 30 points off the usually quiet Magic bench, and Rashard Lewis had another assassin-like 20-point performance.
Let's not lose perspective here. I don't want to take anything away from our guys, but this game seems like a fluke to me. We can't count on nailing 15 triples every night, nor can we count on outstanding performances from Bogans and Arroyo every night. We absolutely need to worry about our defense, which had been stellar this month up until tonight. Yeah, 15 threes, Hedo has the best linescore in all the NBA, we tie a franchise-record... but we still let the Atlanta Hawks score 112 points on us! 112! In a regulation game! They did so on just 96 possessions for an offensive rating of 116.7. Atlanta's offensive rating this season is a mere 105.9, 22nd in the league. How can we be okay with letting it embarrass us by scoring so many points? The Hawks scored 13 points in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter, cutting our lead to just 13. There was very little intensity from us in the second half. Can we please maintain a 20-point lead before the season is over with? Please?
On the bright side (did I really just say that?), we beat Atlanta even though it got 50 points on 20-of-33 shooting from its starting backcourt of Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson. We should be happy with that.
Tangent: I read elsewhere a few months ago that Dwight Howard is a stat-padder, a notion I dismissed. But after watching tonight's game on TV, and Saturday's game in person, I can confirm it. Dwight not-so-subtly raises his rebound totals by taking boards away from his teammates; just look at the picture at the top of this post for an example. At the halftime buzzer on Saturday night, a Golden State player's halfcourt-heave drew iron, then clanked off. The ball was on track to fall right in Jameer Nelson's lap, but Howard, who was trailing on the play, reached out and grabbed it. But that's not all. On one occasion in the second half this evening, Hedo Turkoglu was perfectly positioned under the Hawks' basket for his 10th rebound, which would have given him his second career triple-double. However, Dwight reached up and grabbed it before Turkoglu could. C'mon, Dwight. Play fairly with your teammates.
Final thought: after the game, Magic color commentator Matt Guokas noted the Hawks outscored the Magic 32-25 in the third quarter. He used the phrase "third-quarter collapse." It was almost certainly coincidental, so I'm not going to make too big a deal out of it.