Denton: Magic-Hornets Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
January 12, 2011


NEW ORLEANS – The Orlando Magic had built up so much positive momentum and feel-good vibes during the recent franchise record-tying nine-game win streak that at no point during Wednesday’s game did superstar center Dwight Howard ever think he’d walk out of New Orleans Arena with a loss.

But that’s just what happened when a Magic team that mostly slogged through regulation and craftily scrambled to force overtime couldn’t come up with enough key plays in the extra period.

Orlando’s 92-89 overtime loss to New Orleans left the Magic stunned that a win streak that had spanned since Dec. 21 was finally over. But ultimately the Magic never played at a fast enough pace or got enough production out of players other than Howard to beat the surprising Hornets.

``Even when they had the (nine-point) lead in the fourth quarter I never really thought we’d lose this game because I knew we’d come back,’’ said Howard, who had 29 points, 20 rebounds and two blocked shots. ``We did a good job of getting back into the game, but we couldn’t make enough plays at the end to win it.’’

The Magic (25-13) got a clutch 3-pointer from Hedo Turkoglu with 6.9 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game and keep alive hopes of the first double-digit win streak in franchise history. But the streak ended at nine games, just as it did in 1994 and 2001, when J.J. Redick’s hurried 3-point shot at the end of overtime came up way short.

Jason Richardson had 21 points and five 3-pointers, two of which came in the fourth quarter during the Magic’s furious rally. Ryan Anderson scored 14 points and made four 3-pointers, but those were the only double-digit scorers on a Magic team that has regularly had seven or eight of them during this win streak.

The other numbers were mostly ugly. Brandon Bass missed 10 of 13 shots, Turkoglu misfired on eight of his 10 tries, point guard Jameer Nelson had eight misses in nine tries, while Redick missed nine of his 11 shots. Orlando shot 39.1 percent and had only two fastbreak baskets all game long.

``We didn’t play well enough or hard enough to win,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``We’ve survived a few games here and gotten wins when we haven’t put together a complete game. We’re in some bad habits right now of not playing all 48 minutes. It bit us and hopefully we’ll learn from it and move on.’’

The Magic don’t have long to recover, playing in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night. The Thunder won in Houston Wednesday night.

Here is a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Wednesday night’s game in the Crescent City:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • Turkoglu had a rather forgettable night, but did manage to make the game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation to force overtime. It was Turkoglu who sparked last Saturday’s come-from-behind win in Dallas with 10 points, five assists and two steals in the fourth quarter alone.

    Trailing by three points with 15 seconds to play, the Magic spread the floor and drew up a play to get a wide-open shot. Turkoglu entered the ball to Howard, who got it back to Howard. When Turkoglu was stopped and passed to Howard, the Magic big man drive the lane.

    He found Redick in the corner, who kicked the ball to Turkoglu for the game-tying shot.

    ``I make plays like that all of the time in practice,’’ Howard joked. ``When I drove, the defense collapsed and I knew I wouldn’t get a foul (call). So I threw it to J.J. and he got it to Turk for the open shot.’’

  • Van Gundy was upset about the Magic’s slow pace and lack of ball movement in the first half, and Nelson did his best to change that after the break.

    Nelson registered five assists in the third quarter alone. Four of the assists resulted in Magic 3-point shots – three for Ryan Anderson and another for Jason Richardson. Nelson’s fifth assist of the third quarter was a thing of beauty – he beat Paul off the dribble, drew Emeka Okafor up and then flipped the ball up to Howard for an alley-oop dunk.

    ``It was like we were running in the mud out there,’’ said Nelson, who finished with 10 assists. ``The pace wasn’t good all night, but we tried to pick it up in the second half.’’

  • As is often the case when he faces Okafor, Howard was on the attack early and often against the player chosen just behind him in the 2004 NBA Draft.

    Howard took just about everything to the rim, getting three thunderous dunks, a tough put-back layup in traffic and a nifty reserve spinning hook shot with his left hand.

    Howard made six of 10 shots in the first quarter for 13 points that helped the Magic jump to a 21-17 lead. But Howard got just one shot attempt in the second period because of double-teaming, something that allowed New Orleans to re-take the lead.

    ``That’s the way we’ve got to play – inside-out and getting everybody running and pushing the ball,’’ Howard said. ``And when I’m able to get deep post position, I’m going to finish around the rim like that.’’

    WHAT WENT WRONG

  • J.J. Redick, who has been the Magic’s best reserve for weeks, endured a nightmarish game on Wednesday. He missed his first seven shots, six of them coming from beyond the 3-point stripe. Redick didn’t convert a shot until midway through the fourth quarter when he faked Jarrett Jack into the air and then drilled a 20-foot two-point shot.

    Redick entered the game having made seven of his previous 17 3-point shots and averaging 10.6 points in the previous five games. He did hit a big 3-pointer with 5:50 to play and he later took a charge against Trevor Ariza to keep the Magic close. However, Redick did not get a favorable call down the stretch when he leaned in on a shot, but didn’t draw as much contact as he hoped for.

    Redick regretted hurrying his final 3-point try in overtime. He actually had more time than he thought because Marcus Thornton got caught up on a screen. ``It was a good look, but I couldn’t really get my feet set and I rushed it a little bit,’’ Redick said. ``I was (surprised to be so open) because Thornton was a good 4 to 5 feet back off. I had more time than I realized, but I just rushed it.’’

    BULLET Howard had a chance to win the game for the Magic, but his woes at the free throw line cost the Magic. With Orlando down 90-89 with 11.6 seconds to play, Howard missed two free throws. The first attempt was short and the second bounced around the rim twice before falling out.

    Said Howard: ``I just missed them so there’s no need to be mad at myself. It happens. We can’t just look at it as free throws lost the game. There were a lot of plays down the stretch that we didn’t make and we didn’t play as hard as we’re supposed to play. Me missing free throws wasn’t the only reason we lost because there were a lot of mistakes made.’’

  • If ever there was technical foul that should be rescinded it came late in the fourth period of Wednesday’s game.

    The arms of Howard and Emeka Okafor were tangled up as the two fought for a rebound, and to get out of the hold Howard swung his arm back at Okafor.

    Veteran referee Steve Javie saw the play as he ran up the floor and whistled Howard for a technical foul. Paul’s free throw with 2:20 to play put the Hornets up 77-72.

    ``I was surprised. I didn’t say a word and the guy was holding me and I thought you had the right to get them off of you and not just let them hold you,’’ Howard said. ``I hope the NBA will look at it. We lost a possession and they got a free throw. (Javie) said I took a swing backwards, but anybody who has played basketball knows if someone is holding you and you try to run that that’s the only way to get them off. If I wouldn’t have done anything he would have just kept on holding me. If it happened again, I’d do the same thing.’’

    The technical foul is the 12th of the season for Howard. Players are suspended a game by the NBA league office upon receiving their 16th technical foul of the season. Howard has gotten 15 technical fouls each of the past two seasons, but has yet to be suspended because of exceeding the technical foul threshold.

    Howard has already had two technical fouls rescinded by the NBA’s league office this season, and this could very well be the third one.

  • Both the second and third periods ended with unsightly Magic turnovers that resulted in Trevor Ariza steals and dunks on the other end.

    Late in the second period, Nelson jumped to throw a pass back on a pick-and-pop play only to have Ariza dart into the passing late for the steal. Near the end of the third period, Gilbert Arenas hurriedly dribbled up the court to beat the clock, but his behind-the-back dribble was stripped by New Orleans’ small forward.

  • The start of the game, which has been of some concern of late for the Magic, couldn’t have gone much worse in the first few minutes.

    The Magic missed their first five shots, forcing Van Gundy to call a timeout to try and slow down a 6-0 New Orleans start to the game. Orlando made matters worse by having huge difficulties stopping the pick-and-roll, allowing New Orleans to get points out of its first six possessions.

    But once the Magic figured out the pick-and-roll, they quickly shook out of the slow start and zipped into the lead.

  • FINAL OBSERVATIONS

  • The Hornets and first-year coach Monty Williams, a former Magic player, badly botched the final defensive play of regulation. Up by three with 15 seconds to play, the Hornets twice had a chance to foul Howard, a 57.6 percent free throw shooter, but refused.

    And they paid for that ill-advised decision when Turkoglu buried a game-tying 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds to play.

  • Howard had a spectacular basket taken away late in the second quarter when he caught a lob pass from Turkoglu and dunked it back over his head.

    However, referee Steve Javie ruled that Turkoglu’s pass entered the basket cylinder and therefore was goaltending. However, replays showed the back of Howard’s hand hitting the rim and stopping the ball before it entered the cylinder.

  • Richardson buried a clutch jumper to end the first half, hitting a 21-footer with no left on the clock to draw the Magic within 40-39. Richardson rebounded a J.J. Redick miss, glanced at the other end of the court to see how much time he had left and let go of a contested shot just before time expired.

  • Actor Jeremy Piven, he of Ari Gould fame from HBO’s ``Entourage’’ sat courtside for the game.


  • 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.