Even though it’s Friday the 13th Atlanta kept their magic alive over Orlando as they chalked up their sixth straight regular-season victory against their division rival with a 109-81 blowout wire-to-wire win to sweep the three-game season series.
Reserve guard Jannero Pargo played majority of the game at the point due to starter Jeff Teague’s early foul trouble. Pargo rose to the occasion and poured in a game-high 17 points, including draining five-of-eight shots from downtown.
Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Marvin Williams chipped in with 16 points each. Wiley veterans Tracy McGrady and Jerry Stackhouse both came off the bench and scored 11 points apiece.
The Hawks were unconscious from behind the arc, draining a whopping 14 three-pointers against Orlando and finished the night shooting 40 percent from long-range and 50.6 percent (40-of-79) overall. Atlanta was flawless from the foul-line as well converting 93.8 percent (15-of-16) of their free-throws and led by as much as 35 points at one point.
Glen Davis, who started in place of the injured Dwight Howard, and reserve guard Von Wafer led Orlando with 16 points apiece. Not other Magic player was in double-figures.
Orlando, usually one of the best long-range shooting teams in the NBA, missed 79.6 percent (22-of-28) of their three-point attempts and shot only 38.8 percent (33-of-85) overall.
The Magic were without the services of all-star center Dwight Howard who missed his third consecutive contest on Friday with a back injury.
Howard ruled himself out of the game and decided to fly to Los Angeles with a team physical therapist to get a second opinion on his ailing back.
Shortly after the Hawks defeated the Magic, NBA Insider Chris Broussard tweeted an update regarding Howard’s health:
“Dwight Howard diagnosed with herniated disc in lower back. Return date based on how he responds to treatment, sources said.”
With Howard out of the line-up, Atlanta abused Orlando in the paint early and often scoring 16 first quarter points while shooting 75 percent from the floor to mount a 13-point lead after the opening stanza.
The Hawks kept their foot on the gas in the second period and extended their lead to 62-42 at halftime.
The Magic made a small comeback push and cut the deficit to 74-60 late in the third quarter but couldn’t hold off the Hawks who made a 15-2 run to push the lead back up to 27 points. From there Atlanta cruised to a 28-point victory.
The Hawks set a new season-high for Orlando with 62 first half points allowed, the most points the Magic have allowed in the opening half since the old mark of 60 put up by the Milwaukee Bucks last month.
By beating Orlando, Atlanta now has sole possession of the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and will be looking to move up in the standings with seven games remaining in the season.
PLAYER GRADES: Each player is given a grade on an A+ through F scale based upon their game performance.
JEFF TEAGUE: D-
Teague is hardly worth mentioning because he wasn’t really a factor at all in the game here’s the in-depth analysis of his performance — four fouls in 14 minutes of action; three points on four shots.
KIRK HINRICH: C-
In a great offensive output by just about every Hawk player to lace ’em up on Friday, Hinrich had the second worst statistical game on the team.
JOE JOHNSON: B-
Joe had an average game, no pun intended, but was extremely efficient in the contest scoring 16 points in 30 minutes on five-of-nine shot attempts. He knocked down a couple of three-pointers from the wing, had a few assists, added four rebounds, did a nice job of going hard to the hoop, hit four-of-five free-throws; just another solid game from the quietest superstar in the league. No big deal.
JOSH SMITH: B
Smith took full advantage of Howard not being in the line-up by scoring all six of his shots, four in the first quarter, in the paint including a highlight alley-oop pass from Williams late in the opening period. Smith was also the hardest working Hawk on the boards against Orlando — who even without Howard still grabbed double-digit offensive rebounds. J Smoove finished with 16 points, 8 boards, 4 assists & 1 steal.
ZAZA PACHULIA: B
Zaza was playing great until he was sidelined in the second quarter with an apparent ankle injury. Teammate Marvin William was going after a rebound, tripped and fell back on Pachulia’s ankle. He rested the second half and was said to be diagnosed with a sprained ankle. Zaza finished with eight points and four rebounds in 16 minutes of play.
***UPDATE*** Michael Cunningham, the Hawks beat writer for Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tweeted on Saturday at noon that center Zaza Pachulia is “ruled out for next 2 games.”
JANNERO PARGO: A
Pargo was phenomenal. Starter Jeff Teague was a non-factor in the game because of early foul trouble but Pargo seized the opportunity and made the most of it. He lit it up from long-range with five 3-pointers, penetrated the middle, collapsed the defense and found open teammates slashing through the paint for easy scores and overall played a stellar game.
MARVIN WILLIAMS: B+
Williams is the X-factor every night for Atlanta and should really embrace the role of sixth man (always my favorite position on a team even though it’s not even a real position) because the player who fills that role is arguably the most important person on your team. Look at OKC for a second. Sure, they’re great. But would they be as good if they didn’t have James Harden? He has the potential to drop 30, yes … 30, any game he wants. No other team in the NBA has that and everyone knows Harden could be a starter on all 32 teams, even his own Oklahoma City Thunder, but understands and embraces the huge impact of a sixth man / first scorer of the bench.
This is what I wish for Williams so much, to mold into that perfect sixth man who could do anything he wants on the court. This kid is listed at 6-foot-9 weighing 245lbs; that’s just about identical to LeBron’s build (6’8” 250lb). Williams needs to become much more of a factor than his 10 point, five rebound season average dictates if they Hawks have any shot at winning the championship. Against the Magic he finished with 16 points, 4 boards and 3 assists with one steal. If he could add a couple more rebounds to that line and bottle it, I think he would be the best role player in the NBA.
TRACY MCGRADY: A-
This grade may be a bit biased, but I don’t care. I’ve always been a big T-Mac fan and it was fun to see him play with some pep in his step again, I mean it was kind of like the guy drank from the fountain of youth before the game or something. He took defenders off the dribble, hit open jumpers, grabbed six boards, had a couple assists; a pretty impressive game all-around. In the second quarter he erupted for nine of his 11 total points, before punching out his time card for the rest of the night and grabbing the oxygen tank.
JERRY STACKHOUSE: B+
Stack mostly played garbage time in the fourth quarter, a grand total of 13 minutes, but manage to score 11 points. Of course nobody was playing defense but hey, he took good shots, and made them. Isn’t that the only thing that really matters? Anytime a 16-year veteran finishes shooting 67 percent from behind the arc and the field overall is a great night in my book.
SDS PLAYS OF THE GAME:
The Hawks toyed with the Magic for majority of the first half, led by 13 at the end of the opening quarter only to see their advantage dwindle down to six points midway through the second period after Quinton Richardson drained a three-pointer to bring Orlando back within striking distance.
Too bad for Richardson and the Magic because that’s as close as they would come.
Pargo started to heat up for Atlanta after knocking down his second trey of the game to push the lead back up to nine points at the 7:31 mark in the second quarter and sparked an 18-7 run to close out the half to fuel the Hawks to a 62-42 lead at the break.
From there it was cake as Atlanta coasted to a 109-81 victory.
SDS PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Pargo finished with a game-high 17 points and shot 60 percent (6-of-10) from the field overall. Just about all of Pargo’s damage was done from distance as he drained five-of-eight from behind the arc and stuffed the stat sheet with three rebounds, three assists and three steals in his 28 minutes of action.
This was just simply a great game to enjoy as a Hawks fan. They dominated from the opening tip, displayed their athleticism, put on a good show and overall showed they were the better team all game long. Beat down a division rival. Reserves played phenomenal. Awesome night.
Next up for the Hawks are the Toronto Raptors (21-39) who are coming off an impressive 84-79 victory over the streaking Boston Celtics on Friday night. Boston actually beat the Hawks on Wed. April 13 in a thrilling 88-86 OT match-up to win their fourth straight game and eighth overall in their last 10 meetings.
Atlanta currently leads the four-game series over the Raptors 2-0 after defeating Toronto twice in the month of January. The first meeting the Hawks won 93-84 powered by Smith’s phenomenal performance of 28 points and 15 rebounds. The second match-up Atlanta won handily 100-77 to secure the sixth straight overall victory over Toronto. In that game, Johnson had one of his best offensive performances of the season as he totaled 30 points in just thee quarters of play.
Atlanta will host Toronto on Sunday at 6:00 PM (ET)