Denton: Magic-Bucks Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
April 5, 2011

ORLANDO – On a night when his Orlando Magic squandered a two-touchdown lead to start the game, missed their last 19 3-point attempts and tied a season-high in turnovers with 21, coach Stan Van Gundy made a crack about his team resembling the Butler Bulldogs in the NCAA National Championship Game.

But still, there was something meaningful and tangible for the Magic to cling to and be proud of Tuesday night.

Orlando’s 78-72 defeat of Milwaukee combined with Atlanta’s 97-90 loss to San Antonio on Tuesday night secured the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and ensured that the Magic will open the playoffs on either April 16 or 17 at the Amway Center.

``That’s good, but we’re not really playing for that; we’re playing to get better for the playoffs,’’ Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu said of Orlando locking up the fourth seed and a likely first-round showdown against Atlanta. ``When the time comes for the playoffs we want our level to be as high as possible and our confidence level to be up, too. Eventually, the real thing will get here and we’ll have to make sure that we’re ready.’’

Orlando (49-29) snapped a two-game losing streak by starting the real really well and ending it with several clutch plays from Dwight Howard (18 points and 17 rebounds), Jameer Nelson (17 points) and Hedo Turkoglu (12 points and 10 rebounds). Nelson had a jumper with 1:41 to play off a jump-ball tap from Howard to break a 72-all, and then he swiped the ball from Brandon Jennings seconds later. Turkoglu drilled a step-back jump shot with 47 seconds to seal the victory. And in addition to holding Andrew Bogut to two points, Howard grabbed several rebounds in traffic down the stretch to preserve the victory.

``We know where we’re at, but we still have to come out and play hard,’’ Howard said. ``The fans want to see a show regardless, so we’ve got to come out and make sure that we finish the season strong.’’

The Magic incredibly raced to a 14-0 lead when the Bucks (31-46) missed their first eight shots. Milwaukee’s first two field goals came on Howard goaltending calls and its first shot to find the net came with 2:26 left in the first period. The Bucks missed 11 of their first 12 shots and trailed by as many as 16 points in the first quarter.

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