Dwight Howard put up big numbers but he simply can't do enough on his own to carry the Orlando Magic to a playoff win. Atlanta's game plan of not double-teaming the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year and MVP candidate is clearly effective as the Hawks took a decisive 3-1 lead in their NBA Playoff series with Sunday's 88-85 win.
Howard scored 29 points and grabbed 17 rebounds but the Magic defense allowed the Hawks to shoot 46 percent from the field in Sunday's game. Howard can't be the only guy crashing the boards for the Magic but that seemed to be the case. Atlanta out-rebounded Orlando 44-42 and while the Hawks got 10 and 12 rebounds each from Josh Smith and Al Horford, the real difference on the glass was Joe Johnson who grabbed nine.
The Magic clearly missed former Suns' player Jason Richardson who sat out Game 4 due to a suspension. Richardson was involved in a Game 3 fracas with Atlanta center Zaza Pachulia that earned them both a league-imposed game off.
Former Arizona Wildcat Gilbert Arenas showed a small spark of the great player he once was as he went 9-18 from the field and scored 20 points but it wasn't enough. The big story for the Magic is their lack options at power forward and the inexplicable poor outside shooting. Orlando led the league in three-pointers made this season but went just 2-23 from downtown on Sunday.
Game 5 is scheduled for Tuesday in Orlando. The Magic are going to need ex-Suns' Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu to step up big and help Howard to avoid the first round NBA Playoff upset.