Cohen Courtside: Magic vs. Clippers (2/6/12)



By Josh Cohen
February 6, 2012


In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.

HEARTBREAKER IN O-TOWN


ORLANDO -- If you can think of a precise emotion you didn’t feel on Monday during the Magic’s game against the Clippers, you may not be human after all.

From elation to frustration, from thrill to heartbreak, from awe to disenchantment, this back-and-forth affair featured it all.

But naturally, only one team could smile and evoke all the treasured moments at the end.

You can reward any of L.A.’s reliable scorers for their big win.

If you weren’t sure why ESPN spent 23.5 hours a day (other half hour was probably centered on Brett Favre somehow) talking about Chris Paul in mid-December, you almost certainly understand why now. He is sensational (29 points, eight assists).

If you forgot both Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler are two of Orlando’s most defiant adversaries, you now garishly remember.

If you are one of those people who need to be in bed by 10 p.m. every night and never watch West Coast hoops, you now are aware of how extraordinary Blake Griffin is.

The Clippers are a very good team. In fact, it’s probably safe to suggest they have the potential to be a great team. If you are impressed by individual accolades, after signing Kenyon Martin, the Clippers have six players who have at some point in their careers been named All-Stars (most in NBA).

So, for the Magic to fall short – even in a game where victory was so enticing like walking through a mall food court and having to sample each restaurant’s latest cuisine – losing this game was not really a concern.

Neither was individual performance – for the most part.

Dwight Howard was awesome – resembling the player of last season when he was practically unstoppable in his offensive repertoire.

Though he missed the potential game-winner at the end of regulation, Jameer Nelson was splendid in his return from a five-game absence. He clearly wanted to prove he belongs in the same class as Paul and the league’s other top point guards.

Jason Richardson was outstanding as well – balancing his perimeter play with some nifty drives and finishes.

And Ryan Anderson, J.J. Redick and Quentin Richardson all were clutch at one point or another.

"We did a lot of great things," said J-Rich, who finished with 20 points. "Hats off to them, they got the better break with the ball, we just got the short end of the stick."

The concern is more related to standings then performance. After Monday’s defeat, the Magic dropped to 15-10. While that record is respectable, it’s imperative for Orlando to string together a stretch that enables it to launch its way up the standings.

Since the NBA adopted a 16-team playoff in 1984, only once has a team seeded lower than No. 3 won the championship.

While this evidence doesn’t negate any team’s chances of making a surprise run in the postseason, especially in this truncated campaign, the lower the seed a team is, the bigger the obstacle they will have to overcome.

Orlando believes it will ultimately catch some of the other team’s in the East, especially with some inexperienced clubs in front of it.

For now, the Magic must take it one game at a time, including their next contest against their rivals from the south on Wednesday, and as long as they perform like they did on Monday, eventually their present sixth slot will be archaic.

Do you think the Magic will beat the Heat on Wednesday?
Do you think the Magic will beat the Heat on Wednesday?
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