Cohen: Magic-Warriors Storylines
By Josh Cohen
March 11, 2011
TURK DELIVERS SUPERB EFFORT
Waiting patiently for him to restore the brilliance that helped inspire the Magic immediately following December’s blockbuster trades, Orlando supporters watched Hedo Turkoglu regain familiar form on Friday.
After a few weeks of undistinguished performances – blamed largely on an assortment of injuries including lower back issues and a sore right elbow – Turkoglu delivered a first-rate effort with a season-best 24 points and a career-tying high five steals. He also buried a game-tying 3-pointer with 8.3 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime.
It’s no secret that Hedo was a central catalyst in Orlando’s remarkable journey to the NBA Finals in 2009 and it’s no coincidence that Turk was the key to the engine when the Magic won nine straight shortly after those deals.
It may be a redundant presumption, but it remains justifiable: If Orlando wants to capture the NBA title this season, Turkoglu will need to be playing at a superlative level in the postseason.
Perhaps most striking was that he didn’t seem to ever grab his elbow or show any ill effects from any injury.
ALWAYS COMES DOWN TO THE 3-BALL
Just like it is when Hedo is dishing out velvety passes, effectively running the fast break and hitting his mid-range jumpers, the Magic appear unconquerable when they are connecting from downtown.
When President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith completed those two trades, it was unambiguous to anyone who follows the NBA closely that the Magic would again transform into an offensive juggernaut especially from beyond the arc.
Although it was an abnormality for their opponent to hit a franchise-best 21 3-pointers, the Magic were firmly in control when they were scorching from downtown.
It’s an everlasting reality: Assuming Dwight Howard gets hounded by multiple defenders, Orlando’s success comes down to whether the supporting cast makes their outside shots.
That’s how it worked in 2009 when former Magic players Rashard Lewis, Mickael Pietrus and Courtney Lee caught fire in the playoffs and that’s how it will work again in a couple of months with the current members.
J-RICH FLOURISHES AGAINST FORMER TEAM
There is a popular adage in the NBA and it’s that players who have been traded in their careers want to prove a point to the franchises that previously dealt them away.
While Jason Richardson may not hold a grudge against the Golden State Warriors – a club that J-Rich flourished with and developed his career with for six seasons – he definitely wanted to show his former team what they are missing.
On draft night in 2007 – around two months after the Warriors pulled off one of the most monumental upsets in professional sports history – Golden State decided to trade J-Rich to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for the draft rights to Brandan Wright.
Irrespective of the reasoning – although evidently it was to increase their size and versatility in the paint – it was somewhat of a surprise that the Warriors opted to go in a different direction after Richardson provided so much to the organization.
Although it was nothing new for the former NCAA champion while suiting up for Michigan State to play against his former team (played Golden State plenty of times while competing for Phoenix), surely J-Rich wanted to have a solid outing on Friday.
He definitely delivered and probably had the Warriors organization questioning themselves with, arguably, his best performance since joining the Magic by racking up 30 points.
All in all, J-Rich is thrilled to be in Orlando and playing for a championship-level team.
Although Gilbert Arenas opted to leave the Warriors via free agency in 2003, he too had a quality performance off the bench on Friday with 10 points.