Denton: Magic-Knicks Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
March 1, 2011


ORLANDO – Desperate for some production out of players not named ``Dwight Howard,’’ Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy recently proclaimed everyone on the roster to be ``alive’’ and in play.

After a bizarre confluence of events on Tuesday night that pushed several seldom-used players into key roles, Orlando’s reserves are clearly alive and well once again.

The Magic got an unexpected 44-point effort from their reserves, a second-half performance for the ages from point guard Jameer Nelson and more brilliance from Howard in a pulsating 116-110 beating of the New York Knicks.

In what had the feeling and the white-hot intensity of the first playoff at the new Amway Center, the Magic (39-22) were able rally back from an 11-point halftime deficit and outplay the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups with clutch play from Ryan Anderson (16 points and four 3-pointers), Quentin Richardson (10 points and five rebounds) and Chris Duhon (five assists).

And from there the Magic’s captains, Nelson and Howard, did the rest to lead Orlando to its third consecutive victory. Nelson scored 23 of his 26 points in the second half, Howard strengthened his Most Valuable Player candidacy with 30 points, 16 rebounds and five blocked shots.

``That was a really good win for us, but we have to play that type of basketball every night to be a championship team,’’ Howard said. ``We have to battle like this every night. When we play tough and physical like this and keep our heads mentally we’re tough to beat.’’

New York got 85 points from Stoudemire (30), Billups (30) and Anthony (25), but little else from the rest of the roster. Starters Shawne Williams (eight points) and Landry Fields (six points) did little in the game, and Orlando’s bench outscored New York’s reserves 44-11.

``That was a great overall team win for us because Jameer was huge, Dwight was great and Quentin was inspiring with his play,’’ said J.J. Redick, who had 12 points and made all six of his 3-pointers off the Magic bench. ``(Richardson and Duhon) have been great teammates all year long and clearly they were ready when their names were called.’’

The Knicks (30-28) dropped to 2-2 since the blockbuster trade for Anthony, Billups and others. New York has beaten Milwaukee and Miami, but has lost to Cleveland and the Magic. The Knicks are sixth in the East, five games behind the fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks.

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Tuesday night’s game that featured a distinct playoff feel:

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John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.