Denton: Magic-Timberwolves Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
January 15, 2011


MINNEAPOLIS – Facing the monumental task of trying to slow down the double-double machine that is Minnesota’s Kevin Love, Orlando Magic reserve power forward Ryan Anderson went back to school Saturday night and did his homework as well.

A collegiate product of Cal, Anderson has a history of battling Love, who starred in college at Pac-10 rival UCLA. So on Saturday when Anderson starred down Love, the NBA’s leader in rebounding and double-doubles, he knew he would have to remain active offensively to pull Love away from the rim and fight him in the post.

Anderson’s work on Love and some clutch shooting from Jason Richardson and J.J. Redick were big reasons why the sluggish Magic were able to dig their way out of an early 15-point hole and beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-99 at the Target Center.

Anderson registered his second double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Spearheading the Magic’s second-unit, he keyed an Orlando rally in the second period and his group finished off a 33-18 third period that vaulted Orlando into the lead. And most importantly, Anderson held Love to just 11 points on five of 12 shooting and 15 rebounds. Also, Love did not make a 3-pointer after entering the game with 59 on the season.

``Obviously (Love) is a lot better now than he was at college and it’s hard to compare college to the NBA, but one thing that I remembered from college and tried to take into mind was to control the boards against him and not get wedged under the rim,’’ Anderson said. ``He’s pretty hard to completely stop from having a good game, but I think we all as a team did a pretty good job of keeping him off the offensive glass.’’

The Magic (26-14) snapped a two-game losing streak that came on the heels of a franchise-record-tying nine-game win streak. The Magic are now 10-4 since the Dec. 18 trades that brought them Hedo Turkoglu, Gilbert Arenas, Earl Clark and Richardson.

Redick scored 21 points off the bench, none bigger than a four-point play with 5:58 to play where he had the breath knocked out of him by two colliding Minnesota defenders. Richardson had another 21 points and three 3-pointers, continuing what’s been a great three-game roadtrip for him personally. Franchise center Dwight Howard added 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals.

``J.J. has been playing well. He’s always ready to play and so is Jason Richardson,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``Those guys always play hard. You can count of their energy.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Saturday night’s somewhat strange, inconsistent game in frigid Minneapolis:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • Richardson, who was in the midst of a stellar season in Phoenix before he was traded to Orlando, continued his torrid shooting of late with another solid performance.

    Richardson made seven of 13 shots, three of seven 3-pointers and all four of his free throw attempts for a 21-point effort in 35 minutes.

    He had two 3-pointers and a spectacular alley-oop dunk off the fastbreak early in the third period in a 12-3 run to start the second half. And late in the game, after Minnesota had pulled to within 96-91 with 2:17 to play, Richardson coolly drilled a floater in the lane to seal the victory.

    ``That’s the type of player that I am – I want the ball in my hands in big spots. We have a lot of those guys here with Gilbert (Arenas) in Washington, me in Phoenix, (Hedo Turkoglu) in the past and Dwight here,’’ Richardson said. ``Playing with energy, that’s what gets me going out there on the court. In the first half I was a little tired, but I found a way to get going and break out in the second half. A guy playing hard, that’s just who I am.’’

  • As bad as the Magic have been in the first quarter, they’ve been equally as good in the second quarter of games. And a big reason has been the confident shooting of Anderson. The reserve power forward made three of four shots, all on 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the second quarter on Saturday.

    Anderson’s hot shooting jump-started a 23-11 run by the Magic to open the second period. And Orlando’s first lead of the night (43-40) came on a deep 3-pointer on the fastbreak by Anderson. Anderson came into the game having made four 3-pointers against New Orleans and three 3-pointers versus Oklahoma City – most of them coming in the second quarter of games.

    But Anderson knows that it’s his defense that will ultimately decide how much he plays in games and whether or not he’ll be on the floor in the fourth quarter.

    His work on Love certainly earned him some points in the eyes of Van Gundy.

    ``When we start slow we take it upon ourselves to get us the lead back. That’s what we have a second unit for and we do have a lot of guys in that group who can score,’’ Anderson said. ``As for me, I’m going to play only if Stan thinks I’m doing a good job defensively. There are things I can control like getting rebounds. I do makes mistakes, but the way I played defense is a good way to show (Van Gundy) that he can trust me.’’

  • Redick was also a big part of that second-string turn-around, and he was one of Orlando’s most consistent players in a game that was wildly erratic most of the night.

    Redick made seven of 15 shots, drilled three threes, got to the free throw line four times (all makes) and scored 21 points. But his finest moment of all was the 3-pointer that he made in the fourth quarter as Wesley Johnson and Corey Brewer collided in front of him and sent all three players sprawling to the floor.

    ``I got the wind knocked out of me when I got hit by both guys,’’ Redick said. ``J-Rich came up and said, `And 1!’ and I said, `No, And 2.’ I got hit in the sternum.’’

  • WHAT WENT WRONG

  • As they have been for almost two weeks now, the Magic were a mess at the start of the game and had to try and play their way out of a hole once again.

    Orlando was down 6-1 right out of the gates – very similar to the 6-0 deficit in New Orleans on Wednesday and 6-2 on Thursday in Oklahoma City.

    Things would only get worse in the first quarter for the Magic as they fell behind 29-14 at one point. The Magic strung together a mini-run, but still trailed 29-20 at the end of one period.

    Earlier in the week, Van Gundy wondered if he needed to change his starting lineup to get more energy on the floor for the start of games, but he resisted. He did call two timeouts early in the game, screaming at his team for giving up three backdoor layups/dunks and allowing Love to control the boards.

    ``I don’t know why we’re playing very good in the first quarter,’’ Howard said. ``Our (2009) team that went to The Finals always started games slow. I just think that our team kind of likes playing from behind, but that’s not a good idea at all.’’

    Added Jameer Nelson, who had nine points, seven assists and two steals: ``The slow starts are frustrating because we start the third quarter off good so we know that we can do it. It’s just something that we have to get figured out. Later on, we started making good second and third efforts. But early on, we weren’t even making one good effort.’’

  • FINAL OBSERVATIONS

  • The lights inside the Target Center went out just four seconds into the fourth quarter, prompting the fans to howl like Timberwolves in the dark.

    The power came back on two minutes later and the game resumed. The power outage had to briefly worry a Magic team that’s already had two games wiped out because of unplayable court conditions and a pregame delayed by a power outage.

  • Howard and Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic had a testy exchange in the fourth period. After Pekovic whacked Howard across the arms on a post move, Howard grabbed Pekovic’s wrist to slow him down from running the break. Then, after the two nearly came to blows while fighting for a rebound, Pekovic shoved Howard on the other end of the floor and was whistled for a personal foul.

    ``They have a couple of MMA fighters on their team,’’ Howard said. ``We only have one MMA fighter and that’s me. It was a very physical game. Do we like physical games? Yes, but both teams have to play through it. It is rare when you have players like Pekovic, Darko (Milicic) and (Kosta) Koufos. It is fun, but you just have to learn to play through it.’’

  • More than few eyebrows were raised around the NBA this summer when Milicic, a perpetually underachieving center, got a four-year, $20 million free-agent contract from the Timberwolves.

    Milicic, who spent parts of two seasons in Orlando, played well when he was actually on the floor Saturday night, scoring 13 points, grabbing six rebounds and swatting three shots. But the problem was that he was on the floor just 20 minutes because of foul trouble while trying to guard Howard. He fouled out with 7:22 left in the game, dooming any chance Minnesota had of pulling off the upset.

  • During a stop in play during the third quarter, Minnesota small forward Corey Brewer turned to his team’s bench and yelled, ``Stop talking to me. I can’t listen to everybody.’’ Brewer, a University of Florida product who led the Gators to consecutive national championships, was upset that several coaches were screaming defensive rotations at him all at once. He then had to explain himself to Timberwolves head coach Kurt Rambis.


  • 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.