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Hawks need ‘perfect’ game to beat Magic

May 8, 2010
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

ATLANTA (AP) - Hunched over his desk and looking very much like a coach trying to find a way beat the NBA's hottest team, Mike Woodson kept shaking his head as he glanced at a television showing highlights from the Orlando Magic's latest win.

Woodson picked apart all the things his Atlanta Hawks can't do if they want to knock off a team that's playing better than anyone.

"Look at that," Woodson said, lecturing the reporters assembled in his office Friday. "Al (Horford) is just standing out there. If we kick him the ball, he'd knock down the 15-foot jumper."

Instead, the Hawks missed, which happened 16 times on the 21 shots they put up in the fourth quarter of Game 2.

"Five out of 21," Woodson said, shaking his head. "That ain't gonna cut it."

Now it's the Magic, whipping the ball around like the Harlem Globetrot-ters until they find an open man in the corner, just behind the three-point stripe.

Swish.

"Our rotations are slow," Woodson said, sounding more and more pained.

The Hawks hope a change of scenery will turn things around, but it's going to be hard for anyone to stop this juggernaut from the sunshine state.

Orlando has gone more than a month since its last defeat, a 112-100 setback at San Antonio on April 2. The Magic has won 12 straight since then, the last six of those in the playoffs. Going back even further, they are on a 26-of-29 roll, clearly a team peaking at just the right time of year.

"They're as good as anybody out there," Hawks guard Jamal Crawford said. "I think they're built for a championship."

After sweeping Charlotte in the opening round, the Magic have a 2-0 lead on the Hawks as the series shifts to Atlanta for Game 3 Saturday.

Orlando romped to a 43-point win in the series opener. The Hawks put up more of a fight on Thursday night, leading by eight at halftime and trailing by only two going to the final quarter. The Magic dominated the rest of the way, cruising to a 112-98 win.

The Magic have the league's most dominant center, Dwight Howard, and waves of shooters - Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis - burying shots from the outside. All four scored 20 points in Orlando's Game 2 victory.

"You almost have to play a perfect game to beat them," Hawks star Joe Johnson said. "They can beat you both ways: inside and out. It's tough, man. When you've got that combination, it's hard to beat. They've got the winning combination right now."

Even more troubling for the Hawks, Orlando hasn't lost back-to-back games in nearly four months. Atlanta absolutely must win the next two games on its home court to have any chance of pulling off an epic turnaround.

The Hawks long have been known as a team that goes through maddening lapses - standing around on offense, not getting back on defense - and that's just what happened in the fourth quarter of Game 2. Orlando quickly seized on the letdowns.

As if the Magic need any additional motivation, they still are viewed by many as the irritating interloper that got in the way of a LeBron James-Kobe Bryant showdown in last year's NBA finals by knocking off Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals.

 
 
 

 

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