Around the Amway -- December 30, 2010



By Josh Cohen & Dan Savage | Around the Amway Archive

MAGIC EDGE KNICKS
By Josh Cohen

While it wasn’t the kind of second half they anticipated after building a lead as big as 20 and torching the New York Knicks for 40 points in the second quarter, the Orlando Magic found a way to deny their opponent from overcoming monumental odds.

After New York hit shot after shot after shot in the third and fourth periods to cut the deficit to as few as two, the Magic delivered a knockout blow in the final few minutes to secure their fifth straight triumph with Thursday’s 112-103 win.

Dwight Howard posted 24 points and 18 rebounds and Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson, the two acquisitions from the Phoenix Suns from nearly two weeks ago, each buried critical 3-pointers.

Turkoglu also followed with another pivotal bucket when he connected on a drive in the final two minutes and J.J. Redick, with the shot clock winding down, drained a fadeaway with 50 seconds left to seal the deal.

Seven Magic players scored in double figures, including Turkoglu who had 17 and Redick, Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass, who all registered 14 points.

“I think that we’re a very unselfish team,” Anderson said.

It was the fourth time in Orlando’s last five games that it has tallied more than 100 points.

Amar’e Stoudemire erupted for 30 points – a scoring total he has become accustomed to accumulating this season in New York – and Wilson Chandler racked up 29 points and nine rebounds.

The Knicks, while appearing to be a playoff caliber team this season, are now just 0-5 against the Celtics, Heat and Magic combined.

The Magic return to action on Monday when they welcome in the Golden State Warriors. Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Amway Center.

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MAGIC-KNICKS ANALYSIS
By Dan Savage

The new-look Orlando Magic have only played together for seven games, but it appears they’ve already discovered the secret to winning close contests.

Seven Magic players scored in double figures as Orlando managed to get defensive stops down the stretch and once again used a balanced offensive attack to hold off the New York Knicks for a 112-103 home victory on Thursday.

“I liked the way that we finished the game out,” Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy explained. “I thought we did a good job there. They’re a very difficult team to play.”

Dwight Howard delivered a phenomenal performance, erupting for team-highs in points (24), rebounds (18) and blocks (4) to help offset a 30-point effort from Knicks center Amar’e Stoudemire.

“Dwight is a guy that gets the ball deep into the paint,” said Stoudemire. “He is strong. Once he gets the ball that low in the paint it is tough to stop him. He is pretty tough down there.”

The triumph marked the fifth straight win for Orlando, which scored over 100 points for the fourth time during that span.

“I think that we’re becoming a very unselfish team,” said Ryan Anderson, who poured in 14 points. “We’re learning what each other can do and we’re passing the ball. We’re definitely just looking for each other’s shots and creating openings.”

Hedo Turkoglu once again was a difference maker for the Magic in the fourth quarter, posting eight of his 17 points in the final frame.

None of his buckets was more critical than a clutch trey with 2:21 left in the contest that put the Magic up seven and the game practically out of reach.

If the Knicks had any life left, they final nail in their coffin was pounded in by J.J. Redick, who drained a turnaround jump shot with 50.2 seconds left to give Orlando a 10-point lead. Redick finished with 14 points off the pine.

“I think we’re playing at a faster pace,” the backup shooting guard explained. “It’s more energy and I think that was the thinking behind the trade was to give us new life.”

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IF ALL-STAR GAME WAS PLAYED TODAY
By Josh Cohen

It’s no surprise that Dwight Howard leads all players in Eastern Conference All-Star voting after second returns.

Superman is having another spectacular season – averaging a career-best 21 points and also being his usual self on the boards and on defense – and undoubtedly is miles ahead of every other center in the NBA.

I generally agree with half of the fans’ selections in All-Star balloting. I have five exceptions, however.

While Kevin Garnett has been the catalyst (before his leg injury on Wednesday in Detroit) to the Celtics’ stellar start, Amar’e Stoudemire deserves to be the starting power forward for the East. STAT, as the Lake Wales, FL native is affectionately nicknamed, is posting astronomical statistics and has helped resurrect the Knicks franchise.

Similarly, while Chris Paul has rebounded from an injury-plagued 2009-10 season to assist in the redevelopment of the Hornets, CP3 has not quite performed up to Deron Williams’ supreme level.

It’s obvious that Yao Ming is a fan favorite in China and throughout other parts of the world, but evidently he is not All-Star praiseworthy since he has been sidelined most of the year.

I would have agreed that Rajon Rondo was more worthy of a starting All-Star bid over Derrick Rose, but Boston’s superb floor general has missed the last two weeks with a sprained ankle. In comparison, while Carmelo Anthony has been outstanding as usual, he has missed some time with injury and personal grievance. As a result, I think Dirk Nowitzki, who is enjoying another MVP caliber season, should slide into his spot.

Here would be my starters for the 2011 All-Star Game if the midseason classic were to be played today.

EAST
PG: Derrick Rose
SG: Dwyane Wade
C: Dwight Howard
PF: Amar’e Stoudemire
SF: LeBron James

WEST
PG: Deron Williams
SG: Kobe Bryant
C: Nene
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
SF: Kevin Durant

MY ENTIRE ROSTERS
MAGIC DEVELOPING CHEMISTRY FAST
By Josh Cohen

Most NBA spectators assumed it would take a reasonable amount of time for the revitalized Orlando Magic to crystallize after finalizing two blockbuster trades nearly two weeks ago.

Some suggested a month – which at the time of the deals was optimistic and audacious.

Other proposed it would take the rest of the regular season for the revamped Magic to develop the proper chemistry to develop into championship form. That wouldn’t have been ideal, but President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith and Head Coach Stan Van Gundy would have probably accepted it as long as they delivered in the postseason.

Very few, if any, however, figured it would take about a week for Orlando to blossom and reestablish their Eastern Conference supremacy.

Behind another balanced effort from the new and former cast of stars, the Magic defeated the budding Knicks on Thursday for their fifth straight triumph. It was also the third time during this stretch of victories that Orlando demonstrated its capabilities in front of a national audience.

This is all not to suggest that the Magic don’t need to make any adjustments or improvements – because like every team in the NBA they do. Orlando, for instance, permitted New York to, on the whole, dominate the third quarter after the Magic had built a big halftime lead.

If not for a few clutch buckets from Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and J.J. Redick to go along with another supreme effort from Dwight Howard, the Knicks could have made it much more interesting in the last couple of minutes.

But all in all, Van Gundy must be pleased with the energy and swift teamwork that the Magic are showcasing after just several games under their belt.

Orlando has been unselfish and willing to distribute to anyone that is open – irrespective of who is hot and who is not.

“We’re learning what each other can do and we’re passing the ball,” said Ryan Anderson, who pitched in 14 points.
QUICK HITS
By Dan Savage

  • GETTING TECHNICAL: We all know that Dwight Howard can get a little temperamental when dealing with perhaps unfair calls from the officials.

    But it’s time that Orlando’s All-Star center starts to take a chill pill after picking up his NBA-leading 12th technical foul on Thursday.

    “Why he’s been the guy to get all the technical’s, I don’t know,” said Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy. “But there are a lot of guys in this league that are a lot harder on officials and yell at them and swear and everything else and get away with it some.”

    Orlando’s Superman finds his new image a little ironic.

    "One year, I'm smiling too much," he said. "Now I'm the bad boy."


  • BIG NUMBERS: Along with stuffing the stat-sheet on Thursday, Dwight Howard stuffed another thing: the All-Star ballot box.

    The Magic’s superstar center is leading the Eastern Conference after the second returns of the 2011 All-Star balloting.

    Kobe Bryant is the overall leader with 1,153,694 votes, while Howard paces the East with 988,572 votes.


  • PACKED HOUSE: With an attendance of 19,090, the Magic set a new single-game attendance record.

    The previous record for largest home attendance was 19,057 set Dec. 21, 2010 vs. the Dallas Mavericks.

    The Magic also extended their sellout streak to 74 regular season games (93 including the last 19 playoff contests).
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