Dwight Howard erupted again for a huge night, scoring 33 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. This time, he had enough help from his teammates to get their first win in the 2011 NBA playoffs, and now the Orlando Magic are 1-1, heading into Atlanta.
It was a complete change in effort and defense. Not on offense. Howard hardly had anyone to complement his playoff awesomeness. The Orlando Magic shot a woeful 34.6 from the field, far worse than their shooting in game 1. It was the way they were able to stop the Hawks this time, especially the back court (Joe Johnson and Kirk Hinrich combining for only 23 points). They forced 15 turnovers, six more than in game 1. The biggest thing however was the offensive rebounding.
The Magic had a huge night on the offensive boards, grabbing 20, nearly 50% of their missed shots. Dwight Howard grabbed 8 himself. He also had a much better night from the line – 15-19 after a 14-22 in Game 1. Jason Collins and the rest of Atlanta’s bigs (except for Horford) combined for a total of 3 points. The system of changing defense and looks on Dwight Howard didn’t work this time. Horford himself had a bad game and he’s pretty much the only viable offensive option the Hawks have in the paint.
Without any chance inside, the Hawks got too reliant on their three point shooting – finishing with 7-20. That’s the problem with the Hawks this season and actually in recent years – when things go their way, when the shots drop early and often, they can beat anyone. When they don’t, especially when Joe Johnson can’t get into a rythm, their offense is hard to watch.
And a few words on Dwight Howard – the man logged 93 minutes so far, getting not a second of rest on Tuesday. His 79 points and 38 rebounds in the two games are the first time since Shaquille O’Neal in 2001 that a player had 75 points and 35 rebounds in the first two games of a playoff series. With 3 days now to rest, Howard needs every second of it. He’s been amazing so far, but I don’t know who much longer he can carry the load like this and get wins.