Denton: Magic-Nets Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
March 25, 2011

ORLANDO – Having just celebrated his 32nd birthday last week, Orlando Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu was asked Friday night if he would have converted the dunk that he missed if he were younger. Playful and as happy-go-lucky as ever, Turkoglu had a perfect reply that elicited laughter about the botched dunk.

``I think I was too high,’’ Turkoglu said. ``I was looking down on the rim.’’

That’s certainly debatable after Turkoglu’s dunk attempt near the end of the third quarter hit the front of the rim and bounced away, but the Magic’s small forward did seem to turn back the clock Friday night and play with the aggression and precision of the player who helped Orlando get to the NBA Finals back in 2009.

Attacking more now than at any point since he was traded back to Orlando, Turkoglu scored 20 points, handed out 13 assists and incredibly didn’t have a turnover in 38 minutes as the Magic pulled away from New Jersey 95-85 at the Amway Center.

``Before, I was always looking to pass first, but now I’m turning the corner and looking for my shot,’’ Turkoglu said of how he’s fought his way out of a midseason slump and become Orlando’s best playmaker again. ``I can see Dwight (Howard) rolling down the lane and I’m being more aggressive and making the defense make a decision.’’

The Magic (47-26) won for a fifth consecutive time by going on a 13-0 spurt after the Nets (23-48) briefly took a 68-66 lead early in the fourth quarter. That run put Orlando ahead 79-68 and from there it coasted to the finish line by almost exclusively running pick-and-roll plays with Turkoglu and Hoiward.

Turkoglu had to shoulder much of the ball-handling because starting point guard Jameer Nelson went down with a sprained left knee just before halftime. Nelson couldn’t return after halftime and his availability for Sunday’s practice and Monday’s game in New York is uncertain for now.

``Hopefully he’s OK because I saw what happened and it looked kind of bad,’’ Howard said of Nelson, who was injured while attempting to take a charge. ``He was walking OK (after the game). He’s getting old and the older you get the harder it is to recover from minor injuries.’’

Howard had 21 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots, once again dominating his matchup against New Jersey’s Brook Lopez (10 points, two rebounds).

Jason Richardson scored 16 points and hit two 3-pointers, while Ryan Anderson added 15 points and five 3-pointers. Brandon Bass started well and finished with 14 points for a Magic team that shot 50.7 percent.

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