Denton: Magic-Lakers Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
February 13, 2011


WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • In case you missed Howard’s jaw-dropping putback of a missed shot over Lakers power forward Pau Gasol with 5:38 to play, tune into the highlight shows because it is sure to be a Top 10 play of the day.

    Not only did Howard score at will throughout the game with a variety of hook shots with both his left and right hands, he put his stamp on the game several times with his ability to out-jump others for rebounds and lob passes for dunks.

    With the Magic up 67-60 heading into the fourth period, Howard made a face-up bank shot and then a driving hook shot that all but put the Lakers out of it for good.

    And not long after Howard soared over Gasol in dazzling fashion, swatted a Lamar Odom shot out of bounds and sank two free throws to put Orlando up 86-71 did Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson pull Bryant from the game.

    ``I want every game. And like I said, we have to be consistent, the whole team, if we want to compete for a title,’’ Howard said. ``We played like a team that wanted to win. We have to do that every night.’’

  • While defending Bryant, Richardson used some of the knowledge he picked up through the years while playing in the Western Conference for Golden State and Phoenix. And for one night at least, it worked masterfully for Richardson.

    Richardson stayed down on Bryant’s fakes and didn’t reach in, and that resulted in Bryant not getting to the free throw line in a game for the first time March 24, 2010 against the San Antonio Spurs.

    ``(Past experience) helped me out a lot,’’ Richardson said. ``Most of the time (in the past) he got the best of me. There were big games where he got 40 and 50 points on me. This was one of those things where I played him tough and limited him getting to the free throw line. I tried to just make him work really hard for it. He made some huge shots on me, but I think I did a pretty good job tonight.’’

    Said Bryant: I was too far from the basket and tried to facilitate too much. There weren’t too many free throws on our part so the game didn’t slow down. I should have been a little more aggressive getting to the post a little bit more.’’

  • Getting help for Howard has been a big issue of late, and on Sunday the Magic got a nice lift from their bench.

    Brandon Bass returned from being out two weeks with an ankle injury and contributed six points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes. Bass showed great explosion off the tender ankle with a dunk in the third quarter and he added two baskets in the fourth period.

    ``I was moving pretty good out there, but it was a little sore,’’ Bass said. ``It was the normal feelings after coming back from a sprained ankle making some cuts. But overall, it felt pretty good.’’

    Gilbert Arenas played energized with four points, four rebounds and three assists. Earl Clark provided depth along the frontline when Howard picked up three first-half fouls, scoring six points and grabbing four rebounds. And J.J. Redick added six points, four assists, three rebounds and a 3-pointer.

    ``For us this game was about the big-picture confidence back because we had struggled recently with some of the better teams,’’ Redick said. ``We struggled to win those games because we were in every game. This was a needed win and 48 minutes of good basketball. We really buckled down today.’’

  • WHAT WENT WRONG

  • Howard didn’t get stitches for the 2-inch cut just below his right eye, but he left Amway Center Sunday night with a butterfly bandage to close the wound.

    He was hit by a Lamar Odom elbow late in the fourth quarter, and Howard and Van Gundy were irate with referee Dan Crawford that there was no foul called on the play.

    The Lakers gave the Magic fits early in the game on the boards and things looked somewhat bleak in the second quarter when Howard picked up his third foul just before intermission. But Howard was able to play through the foul trouble. Afterwards, Phil Jackson was irate with the Lakers’ effort and Andrew Bynum (17 points and nine rebounds) was upset that his team didn’t go at the Magic center more.

    ``Well, I told the players since they took part of the day off on (Sunday) maybe tomorrow we can get after it in Charlotte and redeem ourselves against them,’’ Jackson fumed.

  • FINAL OBSERVATIONS

  • The Lakers are 3-1 on their annual ``Grammy Trip,’’ and are now 22-6 over the last four seasons when having to vacate the Staples Center for the music awards show.

    The Lakers came into Orlando having already won in New Orleans, Boston and New York. After Sunday’s loss, the Lakers play in Charlotte on Monday and in Cleveland on Wednesday to wrap up the seven-game roadtrip.

    Bryant had nice things to say about the Amway Center upon his first visit here. ``This is a great facility,’’ Bryant said, ``maybe the best in the league.’’

  • Replays played a major role on a couple of big shots on Sunday. First, Magic reserves Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson alerted assistant coach Steve Clifford that Derek Fisher’s left foot was on the line on a shot initially called a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter. At the next stop in play, Clifford asked referee Dan Crawford to review the play. Sure enough, replays showed Fisher’s foot on the line and the shot was dropped to a 2-pointer.

    Then, on the final play of the third quarter, replays showed that Howard got off a dunk just before the buzzer off a wild feed from Gilbert Arenas. The funny thing is that replays clearly showed Arenas’ foot out of bounds before he heaved the pass/shot toward the rim, but that is not reviewable under NBA rules. Remarkably, Arenas was credited with an assist on the play.

    Joked Howard: ``That was a shot, not a pass. I just tried to be in the right place for it.’’

  • Sunday’s crowd of 19,193 at Amway Center was a new franchise record for the Magic. It eclipsed the previous record of 19,107 set on Jan. 7 against the Houston Rockets. It is the largest crowd to ever see a basketball game in Orlando.


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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.