Savage: Howard and Redick Knock Out Raptors

By Dan Savage
March 5, 2012

The Toronto Raptors’ frontcourt came into Monday night’s contest with Orlando shorthanded.

The few healthy members that were left came out battered and beaten.

Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard exploited Toronto’s wounded interior, erupting for 36 points and 13 rebounds to lift Orlando to a 92-88 road victory.

While Howard did damage early, J.J. Redick finished off the Raptors down the stretch.

The Magic guard scored five points in the final 9.7 seconds, including a clutch 3-pointer and two critical free throws with 5.1 ticks left, to put the final nails in Toronto’s coffin.

“Our perimeter guys all shot the ball very, very poorly tonight,” Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy explained. “But he knocked in a big one right then.”

While the Magic’s perimeter players struggled shooting the ball, Howard could not miss from the field. Superman’s shot selection was splendid as he connected on 16 of his 20 field goal attempts.

But while Howard was immaculate from the floor, he had trouble hitting free throws in the final moments against the Raptors.

The Magic’s big man had the chance to close out the game, an opportunity he consistently covets, with shots from the charity stripe, but missed six free throws in the final 2:18 of the contest.

“I was a little upset that I had an opportunity to close the game with some free throws, but that’s cool, we got the win.” Howard explained. “I’m glad JJ hit a big three and then hit some big free throws for us.”

In addition to Howard’s superb night, Ryan Anderson also capitalized on a Raptors frontline that was without Andrea Bargnani (calf) and Amir Johnson (knee), by notching 19 points and 13 boards.

His effort on the offensive glass, helped combat a low energy level that plagued both squads.

“I didn’t like our energy, we just walked up and down the court; it was hard to watch,” Van Gundy said. “The energy was disturbing.”

Along with overcoming a low energy level, the Magic were also able to pull out a win despite five turnovers from Jameer Nelson and a single point from Hedo Turkoglu, who went 0-for-6 from the field.

Usually a recipe for disaster, Orlando improved to 3-7 on the season when Turk fails to reach double digits.

“It’s not just me,” the Magic’s small forward said over the weekend. “We all have to play good for us to do well.”

Against the Raptors, a good night from everyone turned out not to be needed. A phenomenal performance from Howard and clutch shooting from Redick was just enough.

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