Denton: Magic Relying on Solid Defense
By John Denton
December 26, 2012
ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic have a defense that they’ve come to rely upon and their streak of 11 consecutive games of not allowing 100 points is the longest in the NBA.
But the one thing that can undermine their defense is an offense that is turnover prone. Orlando’s last five losses, including last Friday’s in Toronto and Sunday’s home game against Utah, came when the team had 15 or more turnovers. Conversely, two of Orlando’s wins on the West Coast trip earlier in the month and three of four during a recent four-game winning streak came when they turned the ball over fewer than 15 times.
So when the Magic (12-15) host the New Orleans Hornets (5-22) tonight at the Amway Center, limiting turnovers is a major point of emphasis.
``Maybe if we don’t bring up the turnovers, maybe they will go away,’’ Magic guard J.J. Redick said to the assembled media. ``Our defense has been solid all year and if we take care of the basketball we’ll have a chance to be in every game.’’
The Magic’s defense will be tested by the long-range shooting of Ryan Anderson, who played with Orlando for three seasons from 2009-12. Anderson led the NBA in 3-pointers made (166) last season and won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.
A restricted free agent over the summer, Anderson signed a four-year, $34 million contract with New Orleans. The Magic chose not to match the deal in an effort to maintain salary cap flexibility in the years ahead. The Magic ultimately traded Anderson to the Hornets for Gustavo Ayon, who could end up guarding Anderson tonight. Anderson leads the Hornets, losers of 11 straight games, at 17.8 points a game and he once again leads the NBA in made 3-pointers (88).
``It’s different going to the visitor’s locker room because that’s probably the only part of this arena that I haven’t seen,’’ Anderson said Wednesday morning. ``It’s different, but it’s exciting to be back here. It will be great to see some old faces. It’s a little bit of both – anticipation and excitement.’’
The Magic haven’t allowed 100 points to a foe since Dec. 2 – and that came in a 113-103 defeat of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Magic are 3-3 this season when allowing 100 points, and their six games of allowing 100 points in the fourth-best total in the NBA. Only Memphis (once), Chicago (five times) and Indiana (five times) have allowed 100 points fewer times.
But the turnover troubles have been a big problem, especially since Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis went out of the lineup with a sprained shoulder last Wednesday. Orlando has yet to win without Davis, while racking up 38 turnovers in two games.
Magic guard Arron Afflalo said that the loss of Davis has put some players in different roles and that’s led to the turnover issues. He knows if the Magic continue to defend like they have all season and the turnover numbers are low that they will likely prevail tonight against the woeful Hornets.
``We’ve got a lot of guys who have put in a different position of playmaking for each other and sometimes turnovers come with that,’’ Afflalo said. ``I’m a culprit of that sometimes. But there is a lot of responsibility that falls on J.J. (Redick) and Jameer (Nelson) to make plays. Basketball is a game of mistakes and we have to do our best to limit (the mistakes). When we do limit our turnovers – and hopefully we could keep them in single digits which would be a great night – we usually play well.’’
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