It's too bad Al Horford's trip to Florida didn't end as well as it began. Because Thursday night in Miami he got a chance to celebrate yet another national championship with his beloved Florida Gators are involved.That's why Horford was still grinning Friday afternoon, 12 hours after he arrived in town from a wild celebration in Miami after the Gators defeated Oklahoma for the BCS national championship.
Horford made it to Miami after the Hawks wrapped up practice Tuesday and watched the game from the stands with Gators basketball coach Billy Donovan.
"I wasn't even sure I was going to make it down there in time," Horford said. "But I'm glad I did. It was an amazing experience. Go Gators."
After winning two titles of his own with the Gators and watching the football team win the BCS title his junior year, Horford hasn't been spoiled by all the success. He and Donovan went down to the field to congratulate Gators coach Urban Meyer and his players, including Tim Tebow, whom Horford had classes with while in Gainesville.
"Nothing takes the place of winning a championship as a player," said Horford, who took a elbow to the left eye from Dwight Howard with 4:51 to play and injured his right knee in the second half. "Enjoying it as a fan, though, is a lot of fun. It's different looking at it from the outside in. The atmosphere was crazy down there."
The Hawks could have used some of that energy early Friday night against the Magic. They gave up a staggering 41 points in the first quarter alone, trailed by as many as 50, and lost going away to the Magic.
Horford's status for Sunday's game against Philadelphia won't be known until after he has his knee looked at by the Hawks' team doctors Saturday.
MAGIC 121, HAWKS 87: If the Hawks want anyone to take them seriously when they talk about winning the Southeast Division, they'll have to keep away from the type of performances they gave in a showdown with the reigning division champs Friday night. They suffered a meltdown of epic proportions against the Magic, trailing by as many 50 points before losing 121-87 in a horrific game at Amway Arena.
With the Magic anxious to finish what they started in a 106-102 win over the Hawks Wednesday at Philips Arena, the Hawks got caught with a right hook they never saw coming -- a 41-point first quarter barrage led by JJ Redick's 11 points off the bench -- and didn't regain consciousness in time to actually make this a game.
They trailed 41-18 after the first quarter, by 39 points in the second quarter and 71-33 at halftime in a game that got out of hand shortly after the opening tip.
The Magic lead ballooned to as many as 50 points after halftime, and they didn't hesitate to pour it on, draining more than half of their 16 makes from the beyond the 3-point line long after the game was out of hand.
It was by far the Hawks' worst loss of the season and equals the worst loss of the Mike Woodson era; the Hawks' lost 110-76 at Cleveland on April 14, 2007.
"They just beat the (expletive) out of us," Hawks point guard Mike Bibby said. "They were making shots and that took so much steam out of us early on because we weren't and we never recovered."