Cohen Courtside: Magic vs. Suns (3/21/12)



By Josh Cohen
March 21, 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.

ALL ABOUT THE INTERIOR ON WEDNESDAY


ORLANDO -- Dwight Howard: 28 points (9-of-16 shooting), 16 rebounds, and three blocks in Magic win

Marcin Gortat: Four points (1-of-7 shooting), nine rebounds, and three blocks in Suns loss

If there was some kind of one-on-one bragging rights clash inside between these former teammates, Howard won the battle and the war.

"He basically destroyed me and the whole team," Gortat said.

Gortat has had a breakout season and has flourished in his first full season in Phoenix, but come on people, he’s good but not THAT good.

We all love Gortat and what he contributed to the Magic during his three-and-a-half seasons in Orlando. But let’s not suggest he has transformed into an unstoppable, indestructible machine down low.

We can debate all day long whether trading The Polish Hammer last season in that blockbuster deal was the “right” decision for the Magic.

Some may argue that Gortat’s value as a backup to Dwight is far superior to the pieces Orlando got back in return. Others, on the other hand, may dispute that and insinuate that by dealing away Gortat, it forced Howard to be more cautious about committing too many fouls.

Listen, Howard is undeniably the best, most dominant center in the game. And Gortat, respectively, is in the running as one of the top 10 big men in the league. You could even bicker with friends that he deserves to be mentioned in the top five.

We had the same argument when the Lakers and their All-Star center, Andrew Bynum, was in town. Bynum is a very good post player. But it’s virtually impossible to match Howard’s unprecedented blend of agility, speed and strength.

Needless to say, Howard wasn’t the only big man to thrive on Wednesday at Amway Center. Glen Davis, who in the last month has started to show more signs of progress in his offensive repertoire, enjoyed a grand performance against the Suns with 16 points and seven rebounds.

"It's been a long time coming to feel like that in a game where I feel like I'm doing something right for a change," Davis said. "I just have to take one game at a time and understand that every game can't be like today."

When Orlando acquired Big Baby from Boston during training camp and in effect traded away Brandon Bass, it was very hard to assess whether this would be a deal that would benefit the Magic.

But gradually, Davis is proving that his skills and relentless hustle is an upgrade from Bass. We already knew that Davis’ size would cause havoc for opponents down low and it was a widespread notion throughout the league that Glen is one of the best screeners in the NBA.

Now, the former LSU standout has incorporated some more offensive components to his overall game and it has really infused Orlando. Unlike last season when Bass primarily depended on his short jumpers, Davis is much more willing to grind in the paint for high percentage shots.

All in all, you have to like what you see from the Magic’s interior. Howard, Davis and Ryan Anderson (29 points) combined for 73 points on Wednesday and, more importantly, showed they can be among the most distinctive big men trios in the NBA. Dwight is the anchor inside, Anderson is the inimitable long range shooter and Davis is the source of vigor and hustle that instills utmost energy into the team.

Do you think Marcin Gortat is a top five center in the NBA?
Do you think Marcin Gortat is a top five center in the NBA?
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