Denton: Magic-Clippers Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
February 8, 2011

ORLANDO – Gilbert Arenas took the outlet pass, looked up ahead on the fastbreak and, for what seemed like the first time in days, he was flooded with options.

The Orlando Magic point guard was tempted to throw the ball ahead to Hedo Turkoglu for a run-out layup. He considered passing to J.J. Redick, who was already positioned at the 3-point line for what would have been a jump shot. Instead, Arenas pushed the ball a couple of more dribbles where he whipped the ball across his body to a streaking Earl Clark, who finished the play with a thunderous dunk.

With timeout called, Arenas darted toward the Magic’s bench where he flashed a big, toothy grin and slapped a joyous high five with head coach Stan Van Gundy.

Stuck in a rut for the better part of a week and again early in Tuesday’s game, the Magic finally ran their way to a 101-85 defeat of the woeful Los Angeles Clippers at Amway Center.

``In the open court, that’s where I’m at my most dangerous,’’ said Arenas, after he handed out five assists and helped the Magic (33-20) score 25 fastbreak points. ``The last few weeks we haven’t been getting fastbreak points and it’s been hurting our offense. But when we get out and run like this we can be pretty dangerous.’’

Wrecking ball center Dwight Howard finished off the Clippers (19-32) on the inside with 22 points and 20 rebounds, his fifth 20-point, 20-rebound game of the season.

Down 46-42 at the half, the Magic needed production from their fastbreak and Howard’s hustle and muscle inside to blow past the Clippers and rookie star Blake Griffin. Orlando shot 47 percent in the second half and 63 percent in the fourth quarter alone – many of those baskets coming on layups on the break – to get the much-needed victory.

``I thought we played a really good second half. The big things were our energy and pace,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``Getting 25 fastbreak points, that was a big point of emphasis, trying to run more. We struggled shooting the ball early, and we finally got a run where we were making shots. When I see 25 fastbreak points and 23 second-chance points I know we played hard and with good energy.’’

Jameer Nelson scored 17 points, Ryan Anderson added 13 and J.J. Redick had 12 off the bench for a Magic team that defeated the Clippers for a ninth straight time. Baron Davis had 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, but L.A. got just 10 points and 12 rebounds for Griffin, the heavy favorite to win the league’s Rookie of the Year award.

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Tuesday night’s game at Amway Center: