Denton: Magic-Knicks Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
March 23, 2011


  • Howard made his case for being the best player in the game with an effort on national television that the basketball world likely won’t soon forget. He scored almost every time he touched the ball, missing only two shots and two free throws all night long.

    When the Magic started getting a little sloppy offensively in the fourth quarter, Howard looked at his teammates and mouthed a not-so-subtle plea: ``Get me the ball.’’

    And he routinely made the Knicks pay from that point, hitting nine free throws in 10 tries, scoring on Shawne Williams with ease and dishing to Turkoglu for a wide-open 3-pointer.

    ``I tried to block a few shots, stay in front of my man and dominate the paint,’’ Howard said. ``We started pounding the ball inside and made them play defense. I was able to kick it out for some 3-pointers and we made our free throws, too.’’

  • Nelson seemed to pick up where he left off on March 1 when he scored 23 of his 26 points in the second half of a Magic victory, scoring 12 first-half points. He had the Magic’s first points of the game on a 3-pointer and the last points of the first half on a 35-foot 3-pointer with a second left before the buzzer.

    And Howard had it rolling on the inside in the first half, scoring at will against Rony Turiaf. Howard made seven of his nine shots with four of those shots coming on left-handed hooks and finger rolls.

  • After a rough stretch a couple of weeks ago, Turkoglu and Bass have broken out of mini-slumps by playing much more aggressively.

    Turkoglu is no longer passing up open shots and is looking to attack when he comes off screen-and-roll plays. And the Magic have convinced Bass to use his quickness and explosiveness to get to the rim more. He did just that on Wednesday night, making all nine of his free throw attempts.

    ``Brandon worked really hard guarding Amare and I said something after the game in the locker room and he asked, `Was it my defense or did he just miss shots?’’’ Van Gundy recalled. ``I really like that Brandon is getting to the free throw line more now. That really helps us too because he’s one of our best free throw shooters.’’


  • When Van Gundy spoke to ESPN at the end of the first quarter, he could see that trouble lie ahead for the Magic considering how they were defending. ``I’m not really pleased with anybody right now,’’ Van Gundy said at the end of the first quarter.

    The Magic gave up 59 first-half points because they had a tough time running the Knicks off the 3-point line. New York gives teams problems with Anthony’s post-ups and Stoudemire’s rolls to the basket off picks, but the Magic gave too much space to Billups, Toney Douglas and Roger Mason at the 3-point line in the first half.

    Orlando led by as much as 10 points late in the first period when it went to its bench and got little production. The Knicks, meanwhile, got 10 points from Douglas and two 3-pointers from Mason to allow New York to take control in the second period.

    ``We came in at halftime and wrote the things on the board that we thought were important before the game and asked them how many of the things they thought we had done hard and well,’’ Van Gundy said. ``After that, we went out and just played harder. We made no X and O adjustments at all.’’


  • Much has been made of late of the Magic’s turnover issues – and rightly so considering that they have turned the ball over 72 times in the four games prior to Wednesday night. But not all of the turnover woes are ball-handling issues.

    Because the Magic base more of their offense around a center than any other team in the league, some of the turnover issues are with three-second violations, moving screens and battles in the post. For example, two of the Magic’s first turnovers Wednesday night came on three-second calls against Howard when teammates didn’t find him on post-ups.

    The Magic had 15 turnovers on Wednesday with just five of them coming in the first half.

  • Howard’s prowess with his left hand is surprising to some, but the Magic’s center says it’s because he ``grew up left-handed.’’ According to Howard, he did everything athletically as a child left-handed.

    But that changed in the eighth grade when Howard went up for a dunk and was undercut and fell on his left wrist and broke the joint. That time of not being able to use his left hand taught him to learn to shoot right-handed.