Cohen: Magic-Rockets Postgame Analysis
By Josh Cohen
January 22, 2011
If there was such a thing as a perfect team performance – which according to just about any coach in any sport at any level is practically unattainable – Saturday’s contest against the Rockets would best illustrate one.
It was so imposing that the entire team should probably watch the videotape from this game each night before they go to bed.
Outstanding in nearly every statistical category and proficient in its overall execution, Orlando dominated from essentially the opening tip to the final buzzer in a 118-104 victory in Houston.
Not only did the Magic shoot well from the field – an attribute they have proven to be exceptional at since overhauling their roster in late December – but also they defended with desire and a purpose.
In contrast to Orlando’s thrashing of Toronto on Friday when Dwight Howard almost single-handedly catapulted his team with a third-quarter demolition, in Houston it was more of a balanced attack throughout.
Like it was recently when the Magic matched a franchise high with nine straight wins, seven players scored in double figures, including Howard (22 points and 14 rebounds), Hedo Turkoglu (season-high 21 points), Brandon Bass (18), Jason Richardson (18), J.J. Redick (13), Ryan Anderson (12) and Jameer Nelson (10).
Turkoglu, Nelson and Gilbert Arenas also combined to dish out 19 assists.
"Our ball movement was really good," Stan Van Gundy said. "I thought it was a good all-around performance."
It was also imperative for Orlando to deliver a convincing performance on the road. During their recent four-game road trip, the Magic stumbled in three of those contests.
While the Rockets are not currently a playoff team and aren’t the kind of competition the Magic will have to contend with in the later rounds of the postseason, road wins tend to give teams more confidence and a greater sense of concord.
Especially if Orlando does not climb all the way up in the standings (currently fourth in the East), it will be vital for the Magic to have assurance and poise about prevailing away from home (ex. winning a big game in Boston or Miami).
It was also fitting that Hall of Famer and former NBA champion Hakeem Olajuwon was sitting courtside during Saturday’s action. For a few days over this past summer, Howard worked exclusively with the legendary center to enhance his overall game.
With Superman reaching new heights this season – particularly with his improved offensive repertoire – it was pleasant to see D12 showcase his revamped skills in front of Hakeem. At one point after he connected on a 15-foot bank shot, Howard looked over to The Dream and smiled.
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