Denton: Magic-Knicks Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
March 23, 2011

Prior to Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy asked the New York media to hold their votes for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award and consider superstar center Dwight Howard.

Howard then went out and backed up his coach’s bold talk with a dominant, do-everything effort that proved worthy of the media not yet awarding the honor to heavy favorite, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose.

Howard demolished New York inside to the tune of 33 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots to lift the Magic to an impressive 111-99 victory and possibly lift himself back into the race to win the league’s MVP honor.

Howard was unstoppable on the offensive end, making 11 of 15 shots and a jaw-dropping 11 of 13 attempts from the free throw line. And the two-time Defensive Player of the Year also did solid work on the defensive end, limiting Amare Stoudemire to a 2 of 16 shooting start and a pedestrian 13 points in the game.

``To me, with his rebounding, his scoring and his defense, I just don’t think there’s anybody that impacts as many possessions in a game as Dwight does,’’ Van Gundy said. ``I think Derrick Rose has been great. I will have no problem at all if Derrick Rose wins the MVP. They’ve got the best record in the East and he’s been clearly their leader. You can make a great case for him. I have never been running down another guy. I think it’s a hard choice to make, but I still don’t think anyone impacts the game as many possessions as Dwight does.’’

The Magic (46-26) moved 20 games over .500 for the first time all season and improved to 3-0 on the season against the re-tooled Knicks (35-36). The Magic will be back in New York again on Monday for another game against the Knicks as part of the makeup game for the Nov. 2 date that was cancelled because of dangerous materials falling from the Madison Square Garden roof.

Howard was fabulous, but he also got plenty of help for one of Orlando’s best victories of the season. Jameer Nelson, the hero of Orlando’s defeat of New York three weeks ago, continued to play well against the Knicks with 19 points and four 3-pointers. Hedo Turkoglu had 16 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, while Brandon Bass scored 15 points and the Magic were a plus-19 in his 30 minutes on the court.

The much-hyped Knicks seem to be in a freefall, losing four in a row and seven of the past eight games. They are now 7-10 since making the trade to bring in Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Anthony actually played well Wednesday night with 24 points and nine assists, but he got little help from Billups (only two of his 17 points came after halftime) and Stoudemire (six of 20 shooting).

Here’s a look at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Wednesday’s well-played game from Madison Square Garden: