Denton: Magic-Nets Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
March 25, 2011

ORLANDO – Having just celebrated his 32nd birthday last week, Orlando Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu was asked Friday night if he would have converted the dunk that he missed if he were younger. Playful and as happy-go-lucky as ever, Turkoglu had a perfect reply that elicited laughter about the botched dunk.

``I think I was too high,’’ Turkoglu said. ``I was looking down on the rim.’’

That’s certainly debatable after Turkoglu’s dunk attempt near the end of the third quarter hit the front of the rim and bounced away, but the Magic’s small forward did seem to turn back the clock Friday night and play with the aggression and precision of the player who helped Orlando get to the NBA Finals back in 2009.

Attacking more now than at any point since he was traded back to Orlando, Turkoglu scored 20 points, handed out 13 assists and incredibly didn’t have a turnover in 38 minutes as the Magic pulled away from New Jersey 95-85 at the Amway Center.

``Before, I was always looking to pass first, but now I’m turning the corner and looking for my shot,’’ Turkoglu said of how he’s fought his way out of a midseason slump and become Orlando’s best playmaker again. ``I can see Dwight (Howard) rolling down the lane and I’m being more aggressive and making the defense make a decision.’’

The Magic (47-26) won for a fifth consecutive time by going on a 13-0 spurt after the Nets (23-48) briefly took a 68-66 lead early in the fourth quarter. That run put Orlando ahead 79-68 and from there it coasted to the finish line by almost exclusively running pick-and-roll plays with Turkoglu and Hoiward.

Turkoglu had to shoulder much of the ball-handling because starting point guard Jameer Nelson went down with a sprained left knee just before halftime. Nelson couldn’t return after halftime and his availability for Sunday’s practice and Monday’s game in New York is uncertain for now.

``Hopefully he’s OK because I saw what happened and it looked kind of bad,’’ Howard said of Nelson, who was injured while attempting to take a charge. ``He was walking OK (after the game). He’s getting old and the older you get the harder it is to recover from minor injuries.’’

Howard had 21 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots, once again dominating his matchup against New Jersey’s Brook Lopez (10 points, two rebounds).

Jason Richardson scored 16 points and hit two 3-pointers, while Ryan Anderson added 15 points and five 3-pointers. Brandon Bass started well and finished with 14 points for a Magic team that shot 50.7 percent.

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Friday night’s game at the Amway Center:


  • Turkoglu was steady throughout and was aggressively seeking out shots and attacking to make plays. He made eight of 11 shots and three of four 3-pointers to boost his 3-point percentage to a stellar 42.1 percent for the season. That would be a career-best percentage from beyond the arc, bettering the 41.9 he shot during the 2003-04 season in Sacramento.

    And because he was making shots, he had the Nets’ defense on a string in the second half. When the pressed up into him, he got into the lane and found Howard.

    And when they backed off he buried shots confidently.

    ``I told him that everything gets set up by his shot,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``He’s got to shoot the ball when he’s open. They started going under on screens and he stuck the threes. And when they went over the top that’s when he was making plays. That’s how he’s got to play because he’s such a skilled guy with size.’’

  • The Magic set a franchise record for the fewest fouls in a game by committing just seven on Friday night. Howard (three) and Anderson (two) were the only players with multiple fouls for the Magic.

    The previous franchise record was nine fouls against Boston on Jan. 12, 1998.

    As a result of the Magic’s lack of fouling, New Jersey attempted just six free throws Friday night. By comparison, the Magic got to the free throw line 23 times.

  • The Magic got off to a sleepy start, falling behind 7-1 and prompting Van Gundy to call a timeout 1 minute, 41 seconds into the game. Needless to say, the timeout was more of a motivational meeting than an X-and-O session.

    The Magic responded to the verbal chewing by going on a 15-4 run to take the lead away from the Nets. Bass, who has played exceptionally well of late by attacking the rim, had 11 straight points during one stretch of the run for the Magic.


  • Nelson sprained his left knee late in the second quarter and did not return in the second half. Nelson suffered the injury while trying to take a charge against New Jersey’s Jordan Farmar.

    He had just two points and three turnovers in the first half, but he did dish out three assists.

    Chris Duhon filled in nicely when Nelson went down, scoring five points and handing out three assists in 24 minutes. Duhon confidently buried a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:58 to play to boost the Magic’s lead to 88-80.

    ``It’s the NBA and it’s about staying ready,’’ Duhon said. ``We understand our role and that you have to be prepared and ready when injuries happen. When your number is called you have to go out there and perform.’’

  • Forced into extra action because of injuries to J.J. Redick (abdominal strain), Quentin Richardson (back spasms) and Nelson, Arenas got more looks than usual. But the reserve point guard continued to struggle at both ends of the floor.

    Offensively, he missed 11 of his 12 shot attempts, including all five 3-pointers. He looked hesitant on jump shots and failed to finish on layup attempts four times.

    Defensively, Arenas was pulled from the game late in the third period in favor of Duhon because he had trouble keeping up with New Jersey’s Jordan Farmar (15 points, 16 assists) when running through screens.


  • Nets television analyst Mike Fratello, absolutely one of the best in the business, had to change chairs midway through the first quarter of Friday’s game so that he could see over the courtside table.

    The pad protecting the table is higher than usual and is slanted upward, making it difficult for Fratello to see the action. Arena workers replaced his chair with one of the padded ones usually reserved for players on the benches.

  • When Howard made 10 of 12 free throws Monday in Cleveland and another 11 of 13 Wednesday in New York it was the first time in the center’s seven-year career that he’s made 80 percent from the line (with at least 10 attempts) in consecutive games.

    Howard’s surprising mojo at the line didn’t carry over into Friday however as he made just seven of 18 attempts from the free throw line. New Jersey coach Avery Johnson even resorted to the Hack-A-Howard tactic late in the fourth quarter, twice fouling Howard intentionally to send him to the free throw line. He made two of those four free throw attempts.

    ``(The free throw shooting) was disappointing because he was coming off such a good game in New York,’’ Van Gundy said. ``It was a struggle for him.He had trouble making free throws, he had some turnovers and he was a little frustrated. But he had some big hoops late, blocked some shots and still had 14 rebounds. Even when Dwight is having a tough night he was still a dominant guy out there.’’

    John Denton writes for E-mail John at Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at