Ted Williams famously said, "baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer." In basketball, we hold shooters to a higher standard than baseball holds its hitters. A hitter with a .300 average earns our respect; a hoopster shooting 30 percent earns jeers and comparisons to Jannero Pargo, or Gilbert Arenas of recent vintage.
Funny thing, though: the Orlando Magic have had to make do with their players posting field-goal percentages that look more like batting averages so far against the Atlanta Hawks in the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Aside from star center Dwight Howard, the team has combined to shoot 30.5 percent from the field. And aside from Jameer Nelson, Orlando has struggled to connect from three-point range, going 7-of-35 (20 percent) from beyond the arc.
Indeed, the Magic's three-point shooting stands right at the Mendoza Line. Basketball enthusiasts might have to rename it the Turkoglu Line when this series is over, as Hedo Turkoglu is 2-of-11 from deep in this series.
Howard leads the team with 71.4 percent shooting in these playoffs. Nelson ranks second, at 42.4 percent, followed by Arenas and his robust (by his standards) 37.5 percent figure. The six remaining players on the team are shooting 33.3 percent or worse.
All this sounds very bleak, and Josh Robbins is right to assert the Magic's poor offense against the Hawks is a pattern. Still, the team managed to split the first two games of this series despite shooting like the Pittsburgh Pirates hit. That they aren't down, 2-0, already has to give the team some measure of confidence heading back to Atlanta for Friday's Game Three.