Denton: Magic-Warriors Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
January 3, 2011


ORLANDO – Watching the way Hedo Turkoglu perfectly baited the defense by driving hard down the lane and then kicking out to a wide-open shooter for one 3-pointer after another, Jameer Nelson came to a conclusion that should simultaneously delight Orlando Magic fans and puzzle those in Toronto and Phoenix.

``It’s almost like Turk never left,’’ Nelson said, referring to Turkoglu’s stellar play in Orlando back in 2009 before he left for Toronto and then Phoenix the past two seasons. ``He’s the same Turk all over again with the same personality and we know how he’s going to play. He’s comfortable with us and he’s been great again in our system.’’

Whereas Turkoglu was a free-agent flop in Toronto and mostly miscast as a spot-up shooter in Phoenix, his career seems re-born again in Orlando – the same sight of his greatest days in the NBA from 2004-09. Back with the ball in his hands in Orlando, Turkoglu delivered a triple-double Monday night with 10 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists as the Magic stormed past Golden State 110-90 at Amway Arena.

For Turkoglu, it was the third triple-double of his career – all with the Magic. The other two came during the 2007-08 season when Turkoglu enjoyed a career season and won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. Considering how much of a non-factor he was the past two seasons in Toronto and Phoenix, he might actually be up for the bounce-back honor again in Orlando.

``When I have the ball in my hands I’m able to do the things that I’m good at,’’ said Turkoglu, who set season highs in rebounds (14) and assists (10) and a career high in steals (five). ``It’s not like I want the ball in my hands all the time or we have to run everything through me. But here they use my strengths as a facilitator to create shots for my teammates. As long as I can do those things, we’ll win games and I’ll be really happy about it.’’

Dwight Howard, the recipient of several Turkoglu lob passes, had 22 points and 17 rebounds and eight Magic players scored in double figures as Orlando (22-12) won its sixth consecutive game. Jason Richardson scored 20 points, making four of Orlando’s 15 3-point shots.

``Every game, every practice we’re all feeling more comfortable with the system here,’’ said Richardson, who along with Gilbert Arenas, Earl Clark and Turkoglu are in their eighth game with the Magic since two blockbuster trades. ``We know this team could be a contender for a championship. We know that if we play well, we’ve got a good chance to win every game we play here.’’

Turkoglu’s triple-double – the 18th in team history and the first since Howard’s last November – didn’t become official until he hit a fastbreak 3-pointer with 1:56 to play and a pass-ahead assist to J.J. Redick with 59.7 seconds left. Clearly aware of what he had just done, Turkoglu waved his arms and danced all the way back up the floor.

Not that there weren’t a few tense moments before then.

``I knew that he was close. When he threw the ball to me and I didn’t shoot, he yelled at me and I was like, `What’s going on?’ He said, `I need an assist,’’’ Richardson joked. ``We wanted to get him a triple-double because they are very rare and hard to come by. In that situation, the guy is so close that you want him to get it.’’

Joked Turkoglu: ``It was really painful those last few minutes. I was telling my teammates to shoot the ball and they kept passing it out and it was (ticking) me off. J.J. did and I’m glad I did something to help our team win the game.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Monday night’s Magic pull-away in the second half at Amway Center:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • Trailing 53-44 after a sluggish, uninspired first half, the Magic outscored Golden State (13-21) 35-18 in the third period and 31-19 in the fourth quarter for the easy victory.

    The Magic shot 59 percent after halftime, while holding Golden State to 33.3 percent. Orlando made 12 of its 15 3-pointers in the second half and it held a 25-18 edge on the boards after getting hammered in the first half.

    ``In the first half I was upset with our effort and our energy,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``I just didn’t think we put much into the game, and that’s why the score was what it was. And in the second half we played very hard with good energy and good ball movement and played great.’’

  • Turkoglu was the cog that made the magic motor purr after halftime, contributing 10 rebounds, seven assists and five points in the final two quarters.

    Here’s how good Turkoglu was at sucking the Golden State in with his drive-and-kick plays: Five of his seven second half assists resulted in 3-pointers for the Magic.

    ``The system is still the same here and the way that we play here is still the same,’’ Turkoglu said. ``The hardest part for me is that I’m playing with a lot of new guys. I know Dwight, Jameer and J.J. (Redick), but there are a lot of new guys that I have to learn more about and get comfortable with.’’

  • Arenas ended the third period with a 3-point shot officially ruled to be from 29 feet, but it seemed to be much closer to 35 feet because of his proximity to the Magic’s half-court logo.

    While some will assuredly deem the shot to simply be a lucky one, you should know that Arenas regularly practices the long heaves in practice. Following Sunday’s workout, Arenas took 20 shots from the just inside the half-court stripe and remarkably made 11 of them, including five in a row at one point. Arenas’ deep 3-point shot over Monta Ellis gave the Magic a 79-71 lead going into the fourth quarter.

    Said Arenas: ``I can’t leave the gym without hitting at least 10 out of 20 on those shots. I can make that shot.’’

  • WHAT WENT WRONG

  • Van Gundy said early in the day on Monday that he was far from comfortable with his team’s defense and its understanding of the schemes. Then, Orlando proceeded to show why there’s concern with a poor defensive performance in the first half.

    Golden State shot 47.8 percent in the first half, many of them coming on layups that allowed the smallish Warriors to hold a 26-16 edge on points in the paint. Golden State also made five first-half 3-pointers, allowing it to lead by as many as 11 points in the first half.

    In addition to their defensive woes, the Magic also had troubles handling the ball. Orlando kicked the ball away 10 times in the first two quarters, leading to eight points for the Warriors.

    ``As I told (the team) after the game, that’s a simple lesson that when we play hard and with energy we have a chance to be very good,’’ Van Gundy said. ``And when we don’t, like every other team in the league, you’re going to play poorly. You’re not going to just walk out there and think that you’re good. Everybody’s too good. Every night you’re up against teams that can beat you, and if we play like we did in the first half we’ll get beat. But in the second half we turned it around.’’

  • FINAL OBSERVATIONS

  • Ryan Anderson, arguably the Magic’s second-best rebounder behind Howard, made a head’s up play early in the fourth period to grow the Magic’s lead.

    Anderson missed a 3-point shot from the corner short, but wisely followed his shot. He beat Golden State’s Stephen Curry to the rebound along the baseline and when he felt contact, Anderson shot again. The 15-footer found nothing but net and Anderson got the call, putting him in position for a nifty three-point play.

    Anderson finished with 13 points and two 3-pointers in 19 minutes.

  • Turkoglu drew some light applause when he continued a fastbreak after a stoppage in play and then bounced the ball hard off the floor and into the basket for a trick shot. Turkoglu often begins his post-practice shooting sessions with the trick shot and can make it with shocking regularity.

  • Here’s a look at how effective some of the Magic’s top players were on Monday night: Howard was plus-24 in his 42 minutes, Richardson was plus-19 in 39 minutes, Turkoglu was plus-15 in 38 minutes, Arenas was plus-14 in 26 minutes and Redick was plus-13 in 26 minutes.

  • 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.