Denton's Dish: Magic at Knicks (1/16/12)



By John Denton
January 16, 2012


NEW YORK – Things that keep coming in threes these days for the Orlando Magic: regular-season games, huge defensive adjustments (with 3 minutes to play) and back-breaking Ryan Anderson 3-pointers.

The Magic started off their stretch of three games in as many days on Monday by getting career-bests of 30 points and seven 3-pointers from Anderson and a key defensive adjustment to zone in a gritty 102-93 defeat of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Anderson’s effort sparked a Magic offense that produced 17 3-pointers to shred the Knicks (6-7) in the second half of the Monday matinee because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Orlando (9-3) won its fourth consecutive game and moved into a tie with the Chicago Bulls for the fewest losses in the Eastern Conference.

Because the Magic trailed most of the game, had to battle through Dwight Howard foul trouble and had a difficult time slowing Carmelo Anthony (33 points), head coach Stan Van Gundy called it ``our best win of the season.’’

``I think we have a lot of resilience and we just grinded this game out,’’ said Anderson, speaking in a raspy voice that was the result of a nasty cold he played through. ``We did other things better (on Monday). Some calls didn’t go our way, but we kept our heads down the stretch.’’

A game after battering the Golden State Warriors with 45 points, 23 rebounds and a NBA record 39 free throw attempts, superstar center Dwight Howard had just eight points and 10 rebounds in 38 foul-plagued minutes. But his presence created open shots, and his teammates obliged.

J.J. Redick, who was starting in the place of injured shooting guard Jason Richardson, scored 21 points and made three 3-pointers. His dazzling reverse layup under New York’s Ian Shumpert put the Magic ahead 96-91 and coast to the victory.

And Hedo Turkoglu, who has historically struggled with day games throughout his career, scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half. He hit four of seven 3-pointers, none bigger than his shot with 5:32 to put the Magic ahead 87-85. It’s a lead they never lost again.

``I think it’s very evident that we are a resilient team,’’ Redick said. ``I can think of the Toronto game at home, Thursday night at Golden State and then tonight where we trailed the whole game. We made an adjustment to the zone defense and took them out of their game. We were able to hit enough shots and get enough stops to win the game.’’

The Magic returned home after the game and are in the midst of their first stretch of three games in three days in years. Orlando hosts Charlotte on Tuesday and the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.

Here is a closer look at the key moments in the game:

    MAGIC MOMENTS

  • Anderson said he didn’t sleep well Sunday night and he passed on his usual pregame shooting session Monday because he felt the effects of an illness coming on.

    Then, he went out and had a shooting night of his four-year NBA career. He made 11 of 19 shots and seven of 13 3-pointers – most of them being taken when wide open because of Howard’s presence inside.

    Anderson’s 30-point effort broke his previous career high of 28 points set last April against Chicago. He also shattered personal records for field goals made (nine previously), field goal attempts (18 previously), 3-pointers made (six on Christmas Day) and 3-pointers attempted (12). He continues to lead the NBA this season in 3-pointers made (43) and attempted (96).

    ``My teammates do such a good job of finding me,’’ Anderson said. ``Part of our plan is Dwight rolls down the middle and he sucks the defense in and the choice is to either give up a wide-open 3-pointer or a wide-open dunk?’’

  • The Magic were shaky defensively early in the game and sent the Knicks to the free throw line far too often with unnecessary fouls. But they stayed in the game with some deadeye shooting from 3-point range.

    The Knicks were determined not to let Howard beat them inside and sent double teams his way on a regular basis. As a result the Magic made 12 of 27 3-pointers in the first three quarters. In the third period alone, Orlando made six of 10 shots from beyond the arc.

    The Magic then started the fourth period by making five of their first six shots from the 3-point line. Anderson hit five 3-pointers in the second half, while Turkoglu drained four 3-pointers after halftime.

    ``Even compared to some of the other games where we’ve had great resolve, the attitude on our bench was outstanding,’’ Van Gundy said. ``There was no negativity at all with anybody. There was no lack of confidence. There was some frustration with the calls, but there was no negative stuff at the bench. We were just in a good frame of mind all day, fought it out and got what I’d say was our best win of the season, to be honest.’’

    MAGIC MYSTERY

  • Howard demolished New York in four meetings last season, averaging a whopping 29 points and 15.8 rebounds. But the Knicks took a major step in improving their post defense in the offseason by signing Tyson Chandler.

    The combination of Chandler and some intermittent double teams kept Howard in check all afternoon. He made just three of six field goals and only two of nine free throws before fouling out in the final minute. But Howard put aside whatever frustration he might have been feeling after the Magic found a way to gut out another victory.

    ``I just kept telling Stan if they are going to keep double-teaming me and trying to force me out of my rhythm then I’ll pass it out and make great plays from the post,’’ said Howard, who had four assists. ``I’ve done a good job this year of being unselfish and looking for the right guy. They double-teamed almost every possession so I just tried to bait them in and kick it out to the shooters.’’

    Howard had just two field goal attempts in the first half and scored only two points in the first two quarters. A game after setting the NBA record for most free throw attempts in a game with 39, Howard got to the line six times in the first half and made only two. His first field goal didn’t come until after halftime and he scored just eight points through the first three quarters.

    MAGIC MOVES

  • Van Gundy’s switch from man-to-man to a zone defense in the final 3 minutes clearly caught the Knicks off guard. New York (6-7) missed its final seven shots and the defense totally slowed down Anthony, who made nine of 27 shots and 14 of 16 free throws.

    Van Gundy said the switch likely came as a shock because rarely ever in his NBA coaching career has he played zone in the NBA. But at least for one night it worked beautifully for the Magic.

    ``I’m one of the great zone coaches and that’s been known for a long time because I’ve used it so extensively,’’ Van Gundy said sarcastically. ``I’ve now coached 500-something games and I’ve play 18 minutes total of zone that whole time. So the shock value as much as anything helped us. When you are getting ready to play the Orlando Magic I don’t think you are spending much time on your zone offense. But every once in a while a change helps.’’

  • Turkolgu came alive at just the right time to save the Magic yet again. Looking more and more like the player who helped to carry the Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009, Turkoglu had two 3-pointers and an assist in the fourth quarter as Orlando pulled away.

    ``He’s been great in the fourth quarter. The guys were just giving him a hard time in the locker room telling him, `Hey, next time that you don’t want to play the first half just let us know,’’’ Van Gundy said. ``He’s always struggled in the early games, but it’s a mental thing for him. But down the stretch he was very good, as he has been all year.’’

  • Howard had words with New York’s Jared Jeffries late in the second period after Josh Harrellson collared him around the neck on a drive to the hoop. Howard swatted back at the rookie center and had some words for him and Jeffries soon joined in. Howard, who had just two points in the first half, missed the two free throws.

    Howard picked up his second technical foul of the season six minutes into the game in the first quarter. Howard was unhappy with how he was yanked around under the board while trying to grab a rebound and was whistled by rookie official JT Orr. Howard led the NBA in technical fouls last season with 18, but he has done a much better.

  • The Monday matinee brought out several celebrities to Madison Square Garden for the Magic-Knicks game. Some of the celbs: Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, R&B singer Ciara, Sports Illustrated swimsuit models Irina Shayka and Jessica White, former Giants punter Sean Landetta, Bestie Boys singer Mike D and ``30 Rock’’ actress Katrina Bowden.

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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