The Hawks got some early redemption after getting swept by the Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals last year. In Game 1 of last year’s series, the Hawks lost by 43 to the Magic while being held to just 71 points.
On Saturday, the Hawks put up 103 points in the 10-point win, while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor. Despite the win, the Hawks were overshadowed again by Howard’s monster performance.
45 Pts, 15 Reb in Playoff Loss
You have to go all the way back to Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1987 playoffs for the last time a player had 45 points and 15 rebounds in a game that his team lost.
In fact it’s happened only six times in NBA history, with three such games in losses by Wilt Chamberlain.
31 of Howard's 46 points came in the first half, the most by any player in a postseason game in franchise history.
He fell eight points shy of the NBA record for most points in a half of a playoff game. That was 39, done by Sleepy Floyd in May of 1987 against the Lakers.
The box score may look rough for Atlanta, but this may actually be part of the team’s strategy to defeat Orlando.
Including the regular season, the Magic are now just 10-13 in games in which Howard takes at least 16 shots from the field (took 23 against Atlanta).
When he attempts 10 or fewer field goals, the Magic are 17-3.
While Howard went off, only one other Magic player scored in double-figures, and that was Jameer Nelson with 27.
The rest of the team combined for just 20 points, while making only 8-of-34 field goal attempts.
The Hawks had a much more balanced attack with five different players reaching double-figures, led by Joe Johnson with 25 points.
That’s especially encouraging since Johnson was held to only 12.8 points per game in the teams sweep at the hands of the Magic last season.