This definitely wasn’t how I wanted to start the Soaring Down South blog. Whether it was a result of the Magic’s hot shooting or a faulty defensive effort from the Hawks (or a combination of both), Saturday night’s game for all tenth’s and purposes was over quickly. The rebounding and defensive effort we saw in last night’s victory over the Celtics disappeared about midway through the first quarter and the Magic never looked back. Orlando’s 2nd unit set the tone for the blow out, Jason Williams in particular, sparking the Magic to a 36-17 2nd quarter and a 66-37 half time lead. Williams finished with 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting and 6 assists. Orlando’s hot shooting aside the defensive effort was simply not there for the Hawks tonight. The Magic’s size is always a problem but when you refuse to challenge jump shooters its going to lead to the opposing team shooting a high percentage. J.J. Redick got the start for the injured Vince Carter and scored 17 points on 7-12 shooting 3 of 6 from deep. If anyone played well for the Hawks it was Al Horford who scored 14 points and battled Dwight Howard on the interior for much of the time that he was on the floor. Horford has played really well of late despite the limited amount of touches that he receives.
Too often it seems that when the Hawks get down they go into hero basketball mode with Joe Johnson taking it upon himself to shoot the team back into the game. More often than not this results in zero ball movement and long jump shot after long jump shot. The Hawks’ set half court offense is never a thing of beauty. Even when the effort is there and ball movement is crisp there is a decided lack of direction. There is too many straight isolation plays in which player movement and ball movement stops. I have complained about this before and I am not asking Mike Woodson to run Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, but a half court offensive system like the Spurs or the Jazz have would be a welcomed sight. Simply put, this team has to realize that when they get down they have to keep moving the ball if they hope to get back in the game. This team plays so much better when they are pushing the tempo and sharing the basketball. Particularly when Joe Johnson is looking to make the extra pass instead of going one on two and shooting contested fall away jump shots.
In summary it was a stinker for the Hawks and one that they need to put out of their minds quickly. Monday’s rematch with Boston is another big road game with the Celtics looking for revenge. Hopefully we are not going to see the Hawks revert to some of the things they were mired in during their recent 4 game slide. While it still is only January, it is important to win some of these tough games on the road and to establish some momentum.
On a side note, Ryan Anderson returned to the rotation for Orlando and played well as always against the Hawks. I really like his game and don’t see how he fell out of the Magic’s rotation. Its not like Brandon Bass has more to offer.