Larry Drew on Dwight Howard's 31 first half points:
"He was scoring but the other guys weren’t getting as many touches. That was just a decision I made to stay with that particular coverage. I did not want to open up any type of opportunities with their 3-point shooters."Josh Smith on Jason Collins defending Howard:
"He got in his head a little bit. Even though Dwight had an explosive game I think he did a pretty good job on him, especially in that second half."Smith on Hinrich's defense on Jameer Nelson:
"He’s getting over screens. He’s fighting, picking up the point guard full court and turning him in the half court.Zaza Pachulia, who played less than nine minutes despite finishing the game with just three personal fouls:
"I am sure like us they are going to see what they can do better but it doesn’t matter for us. We know individually what we can do. If we play together for 48 minutes I think we should be in good shape. We are going to have a chance to win the series if we play just like today. Together, help each other defensively, share the ball. It was beautiful to watch our team."And there's beauty (well, effectiveness) to be tapped should Pachulia get the minutes wasted on Etan Thomas and Josh Powell in Game 1.
Joe Johnson on his excellent offensive performance:
"I wanted to attack early and just try to make the game easier. I was getting in there and making plays for myself and my teammates and it worked out."Josh Smith, coach on the floor:
"He has to keep that up. What I always stress to him is make quick moves. That’s what he’s been doing."Jason Collins:
"We are here to win. We are not here to get a free T-shirt and head home or anything like that. We accomplished the fist step. We got the win tonight, and Part 2 is on Tuesday night."Stan Van Gundy:
"The primary problem is we couldn’t guard them at all."Jameer Nelson:
"Offensively we have to get better, move the ball, whatever. I don’t know. I really can’t put a finger on it right now."More from Van Gundy:
"I'm not coming in here angry at players who had bad games. My focus right now is on me and my game plan. I've got to do a better job. I've got to find a way that we can guard them more effectively, and we've got to find some answers on the offensive end of the floor to get some of these other guys going, too. I want to get to the film as soon as I can and get back to work."Writing at SI.com, Mark Haubner has praise for Kirk Hinrich and Jason Collins:
Jameer Nelson's strong stat line of 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting belies the defensive work done by Kirk Hinrich, an underrated player in the game. Nelson went off for 13 points and his only assist in the final 4:13 of the third quarter, after Hinrich went to the bench. Hinrich had a game-high plus-21 in just 28 minutes of action. He was acquired at the trade deadline to beef up Atlanta's perimeter defense, and in Game 1, he did just that, doing a good job of containing Nelson's penetration and preventing him from collapsing the Hawks' defense.At Magic Basketball, Eddy Rivera focuses on the Orlando Magic supporting cast:
Collins didn't necessarily stop Howard, who scored seven points on him in the game's first seven minutes, but the Hawks' big man deserves credit for being on the floor during a critical 11-0 run in the third quarter. Plus, six of Howard's eight turnovers came when Collins was on the floor.
Jason Richardson was absent, contributing nothing to the cause and getting picked apart defensively by Johnson. There’s no question that Johnson has an advantage on Richardson with his size and strength. Head coach Stan Van Gundy tried a number of options in hopes of slowing down Johnson, including using J.J. Redick and Quentin Richardson defensively. Johnson was too strong and athletic for Redick. As for Richardson, even though he did a decent job of checking Johnson when he was matched up against him, two costly turnovers in the fourth quarter negatively impacted his contributions on defense.Evan Dunlap provides further Orlando perspective:
Hedo Turkoglu was just as bad. Josh Smith is too strong and athletic — there’s a pattern here — for Turkoglu, bullying his way to the basket and doing an excellent job of not solely relying on his jumpshot. Even though Turkoglu’s engagement on defense improved in the final period, there’s no question that he will continue to struggle containing Smith all over the court.
As for Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson, they have no chance against a big man of Al Horford’s caliber. Horford abused Bass and Anderson not only in the low post but on pick and rolls, as his ability to accurately shoot mid-range jumpers killed Orlando time and again. The Magic struggled to rotate properly on Horford as he jumped out between 16-23 feet, knocking down four shots in that range. Bass and Anderson are not entirely to blame for allowing Horford to enjoy plenty of open looks from the perimeter, but they weren’t helping the cause either.
It's tempting, I believe, for Magic fans to panic here. I'm not entirely sure that's warranted. Yes, the Hawks scored efficiently. I understand that much. But it's the Hawks' first truly great offensive performance against the Magic's typically stout defense since March 22nd, 2008, when Mike Bibby (five three-pointers) helped the Hawks score 112 points in 96 possessions... in an Orlando victory. Indeed, the Hawks went more than three years without cracking 1.1 points per possession against Orlando, and I'm skeptical their jump-shooting core of Johnson, Jamal Crawford, and Josh Smith can continue to hit mostly difficult shots with a high degree of accuracy.Rob Mahoney on the Atlanta defense:
But the Magic still have serious issues to work out if they are to rally back and take this series. Apart from the serious scoring imbalance, turnovers continue to plague the team. Their 18 miscues tonight led to 21 Hawks points. Howard will draw criticism for his 8 turnovers, but if anything, Quentin Richardson (2 turnovers in 7 minutes despite hardly ever touching the ball) and Arenas (3 in 12 minutes) deserve a bit more scrutiny.
Having said all that, the Magic did manage to get some great looks for Jason Richardson (4 points, 2-of-8 shooting, 41 minutes) and J.J. Redick (4 points, 2-of-6 shooting), but they didn't fall. Orlando had a chance to win this game, and I wonder if it were to be played again, with each player on both sides getting the same exact shot attempts, if the Magic would prevail.
It might be a bit generous to say that Atlanta’s Jason Collins allows the Hawks to defend Howard one-on-one in the post; Collins wasn’t much of a difference-maker, as Howard went above, through, and around both Collins and anyone else tasked with defending him. However, the fact that Collins is on the roster allows Hawks head coach Larry Drew to make a defensive commitment to Orlando’s peripheral players. The fact that Howard can’t single-handedly beat the Hawks isn’t an indictment of his offensive game, but simply a statement about the dynamics of basketball.Kelly Dwyer:
[L]et's give Atlanta credit defensively. They got after it in contesting shots, and they did well to grab those 18 Orlando turnovers. This was an impressive win.Courtesy ESPN Stats and Info, Dwight Howard was the first player to score 45 points and grab 15 rebounds in a losing playoff effort since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1987. Howard and Olajuwon are the only players to do this in the last 45 years. The other two players to do so are Wilt Chamberlain (3 times) and Elgin Baylor.