By Mark Phelps
Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.
Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.
Jeff Teague: Jeff picked up limited minutes while Pargo was lighting it up from three in the first half, but solid ball handling helped disrupt the Magic defense as he picked up big minutes down the stretch. 5/10
Kirk Hinrich: Hinrich was definitely undersized for this job, but came out with aggression and made good passes to help push Atlanta offensively. 4/10
Marvin Williams: Once again, Marvin looked lost on offense and hesitated even when he shot in extremely limited minutes (especially considering the extent of injuries on the team). Still picked up six boards to contribute, but he'll need to find his shot again if the Hawks are to make a solid second half run. 2/10
Josh Smith: Despite not even shooting 50% on 22 shots, Josh came out with such energy that it motivated the rest of the team in the first half while building a big lead that would prove to be necessary. In addition to carrying the early scoring load, his 12 boards helped the Hawks outrebound the Magic 47-40. 8/10
Zaza Pachulia: How does a guy shooting 1-6 pick up 40 minutes in a close game? Shut down your man. Sure, Howard was 5-7 from the field, but Zaza's pesky defense kept the ball out of Howard's hands for most of the night. And that's how you beat the Magic -- deny the inside-out game. Throw in 13 rebounds, six of those offensive, and
you have the best worst-shooting-night around. 6/10
Jannero Pargo: Pargo ate his Wheaties today. 3-4 from the arc and would have had a better percentage overall if not for a few heat-check shots. Surprisingly rode the pine in most of the second half. 7/10
Willie Green: Willie came up big in the second half, especially in a stretch run where he scored back-to-back buckets. Didn't rack up points like last game, but calculated shots over volume shooting = things looking up for Green. 7/10
Vladimir Radmanovic: Much like Marvin, VladRad needs to find his shot again. Reasonable defense, which is better than I normally say for Radmanovic. 3/10
Tracy McGrady: Was Tracy on the floor? Oh yeah, and he did pick up a few assists while out there, but if he's upset about playing time, this game didn't help. 2/10
Ivan Johnson: Five minutes, one effective roll to the basket. Noteworthy, good or bad? Nope. 2/10
The head coach
Anytime I see a 17 point lead evaporate over a quarter, I feel the coach is doing something wrong. Drew's actions are downright inexplicable. The Hawks came through with a fortunate win over an obviously reeling Magic team simply by talent alone. Don't tell me he drew up that Kobe-style turnaround for Pargo.
A thought regarding the opposition
For a team as large as the Magic are, they don't use their size in a bullying way. They only coaxed the Hawks into 12 fouls tonight, and couldn't even use their edge to get Zaza fouled out of the game. Consistent emphasis on forcing fouls early in the game could really make the Magic a much tougher team on any given night.