Denton's Dish: Magic at Kings (1/8/12)



By John Denton
January 8, 2012


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard joked after Sunday’s game in Sacramento that he played so little (19 minutes), shot so infrequently (one made field goal) and expended such a low level of energy (just four rebounds) that he didn’t even need to ice his knees.

On this night, the rest of the Magic – namely Glen Davis, Jason Richardson, Ryan Anderson and even seldom-used reserve Von Wafer – did all of the heavy lifting for Howard.

With Howard rendered helpless by foul trouble throughout the game, ``Big Baby’’ Davis played with ferocity on the inside and Richardson displayed the finesse on the outside with three 3-pointers as the Magic survived 104-97 against the Kings.

Acquired in a trade from the Boston Celtics to bring more nastiness and energy to the Magic, Davis came up big when Orlando needed it most without Howard. He scored 11 of his 20 points in the first half to steady the Magic and also added eight rebounds, two assists and several screens to free Richardson (22 points) and Anderson (19 points).

``The opportunity was there for me to contribute and I wanted to do that. My energy has been good the last couple of games and the basketball gods rewarded me for playing hard,’’ said Davis, who played through a hip injury and took a shot to the throat late in the game. ``I was just trying to have a positive attitude and do what I could with my energy. My mentality was to do my role to the max. I was trying to make others better – getting (Jason Richardson) open and getting (Hedo Turkoglu) open.

Sometimes when you play with high energy, things just go your way.’’

The Magic (6-3) shot just 42 percent, allowed the Kings (3-6) to make 52 percent of their shots and score 52 points in the paint. But they won the game much the way they lost on Friday against the Chicago Bulls – with offensive boards and tons of hustle plays. Anderson and Davis, alone accounted for 11 offensive rebounds – one more than the Kings combined.

``There were some really good things there because that was a hard game to win,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``It was a strange game and not how we’d normally win, but sometimes you have to do it a different way.’’

That different way was necessary because Howard had just five points, four rebounds and one blocked shot in 19 minutes on the floor. The league’s leading rebounder didn’t get his first board until there was 8:14 left in the game and his only field goal came two minutes later. Howard also joked that the managers wouldn’t even have to wash his jersey because he had sweated so little during the bizarre game.

``It was frustrating to get in foul trouble and not be able to play the way I like to play, but I was happy for the other guys,’’ Howard said. ``Everybody played tonight almost and that’s good for our team. Guys who came off the bench did good.’’

The Magic will be off on Monday, practice Tuesday and then face the red-hot Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. They close the West Coast portion of the trip Thursday in Oakland against Golden State. But they took with them to Portland the good vibes of the best team win of the young season.

``It’s huge for us to win a game like this when guys like Von and Baby came off the bench and even Earl (Clark) got some minutes,’’ Richardson said. ``The way this season is where we have games coming up every other day over the next week or so we’re going to need all of these guys. Our stars aren’t going to be able to play great every night and we’re going to need everybody.’’

Here’s a closer look at some of the key moments in the game:

    MAGIC MOMENT

  • With the game tied at 87-all, Richardson buried a deep 3-pointer off a feed from point guard Jameer Nelson, who added six assists. That shot started an 8-0 run by the Magic that basically salted away the game.

    Richardson’s big offensive night was his high point total for the season. Richardson, who signed a four-year, $25 million contract during training camp, entered play on Sunday shooting just 38 percent from the floor and 28.6 percent from 3-point range. But on Sunday, he sensed the need for more scoring with Howard out and made nine of 16 shots and three of six 3-pointers.

    ``It felt good seeing the ball going in because I have been pressing myself too hard,’’ Richardson admitted. ``I had been telling myself, `I’ve got to make this shot, I’ve got to do this.’ I could watch film and see that not only was I not making shots, but I wasn’t playing with energy and not running. I have to do those things to get myself going.’’

  • With Howard saddled with foul trouble and shockingly scoreless in the first half, the Magic stayed afloat thanks to the rugged inside play of Davis. And despite Howard being on the floor for just six minutes of the first half, the Magic still led 49-47 at intermission.

    Not starting in large part because he has to double as the backup to Howard while also playing some at power forward, Davis filled the void created by Howard’s absence in the first half. He scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in the first 24 minutes – all despite playing through a sore left hip. Davis fell out of bounds in Friday’s game against Chicago and his hip collided with a camera. He worked out for almost an hour before the game to warm up and stretch the hip, and then went out and played as if there was no pain at all.

    ``The thing he has to understand is that he scored tonight without going out looking to score,’’ Van Gundy said of Davis. ``It wasn’t like Glen was thinking he was going to get a bunch of points. He was playing his game – pick and roll, getting offensive boards and the shots he got were in closer. He’s played so hard the last two games, he’s bringing us a physical presence and he’s rebounding the ball. He was absolutely huge tonight.’’

  • Davis led a Magic bench that provided 28 points in the first half – points that were needed because of Howard’s inactivity. Wafer added seven points off the bench in the first half by hitting three of five shots and showing some explosiveness off the dribble.

    For the game, Wafer scored 12 points and Van Gundy has vowed to use him more in the coming games to keep the minutes down for the Magic’s backcourt players. Also, Wafer gives the Magic a different dimension because of his one-on-one scoring skills.

    MAGIC MYSTERY

  • Howard couldn’t stay on the floor or stay out of the way in a very frustrating first three quarters of the game.

    His first two fouls came as he was fighting with Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins on the low block for position. On the floor for just 1 minute, 46 seconds of the first quarter, Howard’s third foul came midway through the second quarter when he shoved with Cousins on a pick-and-roll play.

    And the same thing happened in the third quarter when Cousins attacked Howard off the dribble. A fourth foul 2 minutes into the third period not only sent Howard to the bench, but it also resulted in his first technical foul of the season.

    ``I just asked (the referee) a question and I told him that I wanted to play basketball,’’ Howard said. ``These fans wanted to see us play ball and not guys on the bench. He gave me a tech even though I didn’t cuss at him or show him up. I just told him that I wanted to play basketball.’’

    Howard led the league in technical fouls last season with 18, resulting in two one-game suspensions. He had made a concerted effort this season to converse less with the officials about controversial calls and made it through the first eight games without as much as a stern warning from the referees.

    But Howard’s inability to stay out of foul trouble set him off Sunday, resulting in the technical foul.

    MAGIC MOVES

  • Anderson, who grew up in nearby El Dorado Hills, Calif., and had 70 friends and family in attendance, played through a rough shooting night and helped the Magic in many other ways. His six offensive boards and 11 rebounds were team highs.

    And the NBA’s leader in 3-pointers made (29) and 3-pointers attempted (73) got off the arch and battered the Kings inside when they tried defending him with big point guard Tyreke Evans. By working in the post some and grabbing several offensive boards, Anderson got to the foul line eight times and made six.

    ``When I’m not actively making my shots I have to find a way to get myself in rhythm and that comes with offensive rebounds, tips and going to the rim hard,’’ Anderson said. ``We had to fight because things like Dwight’s foul trouble can happen. But winning like this is the telltale sign of a total team.’’

  • Magic small forward Quentin Richardson and rookie DeAndre Liggins were inactive for Sunday’s game because of lingering effects from bizarre injuries.

    Richardson is still out because of a ``chemical burn’’ on his ankle as the result of him mixing a liniment and ice on his skin after slightly spraining his ankle last week in practice. The Magic are holding him out because of fears of an infection in the burned skin.

    Liggins, who has yet to play this season, suffered an allergic reaction last week after accidentally eating a meal with seafood and shellfish. Liggins is allergic to both and had a skin reaction all over his body.

    ``I eat fish all the time and I thought (the meal) had fish in it,’’ Liggins said. ``But it was shellfish and I started itching all over. I really started getting nervous. Fortunately, I didn’t have any trouble breathing and my tongue didn’t swell. I guess it could have been a lot worse.’’

  • Here is the cliff’s notes version of Howard’s pregame and postgame sessions with the media where he was peppered with questions about his future: He said nothing has changed about his request for a trade; He is certain he will still be in a Magic uniform for the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando on Feb. 26; And he said he wouldn’t be surprised in the least bit if he plays the entire season in Orlando.


John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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