The Orlando Magic aren’t ready for their season to end just yet.
Facing their first opening round postseason exit since 2007, the Magic blew out the Atlanta Hawks 101-76 on Tuesday night.
Jason Richardson scored 17 points and J.J. Redick added 14 off the bench to lead the Magic.
The win trims Atlanta’s series’ lead to 3-2 and keeps alive the Magic’s hopes of becoming the ninth team in NBA history to win a playoff series after trailing 3-1. If they can win Game 6 Thursday in Atlanta, they would host a decisive Game 7 on Saturday.
Magic center Dwight Howard battled foul trouble throughout the night and had just one field goal, finishing with eight points and eight rebounds. Orlando didn’t need his offense, though, as it broke out of a series-long shooting funk with 11 3-pointers.
”We’re a good shooting team,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ”This is more of us than what we showed in the first four games…This isn’t an aberration. We’ve been doing this for four years. The first four games were the aberration.”
Josh Smith scored 22 points to lead Atlanta, which shot below 40 percent for just the second time this series.
The Magic cruised in the second half, allowing Howard to log his first extended rest of the series in the fourth quarter as their lead crept above 30 points.
In a short turnaround following his team’s loss in Game 4, Van Gundy preached patience over panic to his team. It paid off in a big way as Orlando was unselfish in its half court sets and passed the ball to free up its shooters.
That allowed the Magic to push the pace and keep the game up tempo. The Hawks have won every game with the Magic this season in which it kept them under 90 points.
For the second straight game the Magic’s bench got some production led by Redick. It also got 11 points from Ryan Anderson and nine from Gilbert Arenas, who had erupted for 20 in Game 4.
The Hawks couldn’t miss in the first four games, but were cold throughout Tuesday. They shot a series-low 36 percent overall and 25 percent from beyond the arc.
The Magic finished at just 41 percent, but hit 42 percent of their attempts from 3.
”The law of averages is eventually going to even out,” Redick said. ”We didn’t shoot amazing tonight, but we shot very well.”
But more importantly they held Atlanta sixth-man Jamal Crawford, who came in averaging a team-best 24 points, to just eight on 2 of 8 shooting.
”They had a good run,” Crawford said. ”They were making shots. They came out with a nothing to lose-type attitude. You could sense it and you have to tip your hat to them.”
The Magic were able to coast based on what they did much earlier in the game.
Orlando put together easily its best half of the series in building a 58-35 halftime lead.
Everyone was involved as the Magic, who led by as many as 24 points in the half, moved the ball in the half court to open up great looks from the perimeter. Following another cold start, Orlando picked things up in the second quarter and finished the half shooting 45 percent and 46 percent from beyond the arc (6 for 13).
Richardson had 12 by the break.
Smith paced Atlanta with 11 first-half points, but the Hawks struggled on offense, going 13 for 38 (34 percent) – making just two 3s. They also had eight turnovers that led to nine of Orlando’s points.
The Magic were leading 10-8 when Howard picked up his second personal foul of the night with 5:40 left in the first, but Orlando closed with a 16-5 run without him. Redick had the hot hand, going 5 for 5 in the period and scoring the Magic’s last 11 points.
Atlanta was just 3 for 19 in the first quarter.
Hawks coach Larry Drew said though they would have liked to close out the series Tuesday, he doesn’t think his team has was rattled by the lopsided night.
”We’re in a situation where we still feel good about ourselves,” Drew said. ”We’ll go back home. We still have an opportunity. Our fans are gonna be behind us, just as they’re fans were behind them. So we’re gonna put this game behind us as fast as we can.”
Likewise, Van Gundy said everyone in the Magic’s locker room knew Tuesday night was just the first step in a long road back.
”I think our guys have the right mindset right now,” he said. ”I don’t think there’ll be any celebrating. I don’t think we’ll even celebrate five or 10 minutes…We know what we’re capable of and we’re going to have to bring that same thing.”
Notes: The Magic set a playoff franchise record for fewest turnovers in a game with six. … Tuesday marked just the second time in the series that the Hawks didn’t hold a double-digit lead at some point during the first half.