Denton: Magic-Knicks Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
March 28, 2011


WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • Despite everything that was going against the Magic on this night with the injuries, bizarre foul calls and the offensive explosion from Anthony, the Magic hung tough all night and got big contributions from several players.

    Howard, the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for a NBA-best sixth time this season, had 15 points and eight rebounds in the third quarter alone following a sluggish first half. Richardson hit four 3-pointers and never hesitated on the tying shot at the end of regulation even though he assumed that the Knicks would foul him to prevent the shot.

    Turkoglu also made four 3-pointers, ran the point at times and had to chase around Anthony defensively. And even Arenas had a jump shot and a 3-pointer in the final two minutes of regulation to help the Magic rally to force overtime.

    ``It’s not easy when four of your five starters are having to play 41-plus minutes, we have injuries and we’re having to move guys in and out just to try and stay fresh,’’ Anderson said. ``But regardless of everything that’s happened this season we’ve been relentless. Even in close games like this we’ve found ways to play through adversity.’’

  • WHAT WENT WRONG

  • Already without starting point guard Jameer Nelson and down to just nine players because of other injuries to J.J. Redick and Quentin Richardson, the Magic suffered another blow when reserve point guard Chris Duhon had to leave the game in the first quarter with a badly sprained right thumb.

    With Duhon unable to play much of the first half, the Magic had to turn back to Arenas even though he had two fouls and was suffering though a miserable shooting slump. Duhon had his thumb packed in ice much of the first half, but gingerly returned for the final 80 seconds of the first half after Arenas picked up his third foul.

    Duhon had an inconclusive X-ray on his thumb at halftime, and did not return to the game in the second half. He had the thumb taped for a brief time before the decision was made that he couldn’t play.

    ``I was closing out and had a chance to get a deflection and I just bent my thumb all the way back,’’ said Duhon, who was unable to squeeze a towel at halftime and left the arena with a brace on his thumb. ``I couldn’t grip the ball or really catch a pass. My competitive spirit wanted to be out there, but I would have been playing with one hand and possibly hurting my team.’’

  • Arenas had to think that things couldn’t possibly get any worse than his 1 of 12 shooting night on Friday against the New Jersey Nets. But Monday night’s first half had to test his will.

    Arenas missed all seven of his shots in the first half and turned the ball over four times. After he botched a three-on-one fastbreak, Arenas dropped his head, slumped his shoulders and seemed to openly doubt himself.

    ``I’ve figured out that I have to shoot off balance for them to go in,’’ Arenas said referring to his jumpers near the end of regulation. ``I’ve got free throws rimming out and I’m missing easy shots right now. It’ll drop for me at some point, I hope.’’

  • FINAL OBSERVATIONS

  • Anthony backed up his must-win proclamations by playing relentlessly and attacking the paint throughout. And several times – even when Turkoglu, Richardson and Earl Clark were pressed up into him – Anthony still buried jumpers.

    After scoring just six points in the first half, Anthony got himself going in a 19-point third quarter by repeatedly getting to the free throw line. He made 13 of 17 free throws in the game – many of them coming off fouls by Turkoglu and Howard.

    ``It was definitely a must-win for us and we showed that from the first play of the game,’’ Anthony said. ``The intensity we had, it was everybody. You have to start somewhere and tonight was a starting point for us. It was a big win for us. We got out of the hole and got that monkey off our backs so now we can focus on Wednesday’s game and bringing that same intensity.’’

  • Magic assistant coach Patrick Ewing got one of the loudest ovations of the night from the Knicks fans who still love him dearly for his accomplishments in New York.

    Much has been made of late about the job security of Mike D’Antoni should the Knicks continue to slide down the stretch and falter in the playoffs. If D’Antoni does take the fall (and still gets a guaranteed $6 million), it will be interesting to see if Ewing gets some consideration for the New York coaching job. Van Gundy has repeatedly made a case for Ewing as a future head coach, saying that he’s put in the work as an assistant coach and he works with the entire team and not just Orlando’s big men.

  • READ ENTIRE ANALYSIS>>>

    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.