Denton's Dish: Magic vs. Wizards (2/1/12)
By John Denton
February 1, 2012
ORLANDO – Two dribbles to the middle of the floor, a spin back to the baseline and then Dwight Howard exploded off the floor and dunked with ferocity over Washington’s JaVale McGee.
A broad smile was suddenly splashed across the face of Howard, who proceeded to chest-bump with Quentin Richardson and celebrate with his Orlando Magic teammates near the bench.
Just like that Wednesday night, the Magic’s worries and warts seemed to wash away, as did their four-game losing streak following a 109-103 defeat of the woeful Washington Wizards at the Amway Center.
The Magic (13-9) scored 100 points for the first time since last Tuesday’s 102-83 win in Indiana. They had to battle through 15 turnovers, but this win meant a little something special considering the struggles of the past week. And it could have come against the Washington Generals or the Wizards (4-18), and it wouldn’t have mattered on this night.
``It feels good. It was a little rough for us, but in the end we got the win and that’s the only thing that matters,’’ said Howard, who had 23 points and 18 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season. ``The four or five-game stretch where we weren’t playing great basketball it happens to everybody in the league. We just have to remind ourselves that we’re a good team and that we’re going to have rough patches and stay together. We can’t allow anything to separate us.’’
The Magic got 23 points and six 3-pointers from Ryan Anderson, the NBA’s leader in 3-pointers made and attempted. He buried a wide-open 3-pointer off a feed from Howard with 42 seconds to play to put Orlando up 104-97 and secure the victory.
J.J. Redick, starting once again in place of the injured Jason Richardson, scored 21 points, hit three 3-pointers and made all eight of his free throws. He spearheaded a Magic offense that shot 45.2 percent and finally snapped out of a funk in which they had averaged 82 points over the past six games.
``We didn’t want to focus too much on that (losing) streak because that’s a week that we’d all like to forget,’’ Anderson said. ``Hopefully we can get another win (on Friday against Cleveland) and start a little run going. This started our confidence, but now we have to follow through on it.’’
Here is a closer look at some of the key moments from Wednesday’s game at the Amway Center:
- Howard’s dunk wasn’t quite as highlight worthy as Blake Griffin’s throwdown earlier in the week, but it was still a thing of beauty. And it came after an embarrassed Howard bobbled the ball and nearly missed a dunk on the previous play.
The second time around, Howard called his shot.
``The play before I almost missed a dunk and I told (all of his teammates) that I was going to make up for it,’’ said Howard, who kept uttering the words, ``I told you so’’ after his dunk. ``That’s why everybody was so excited.
``But I’m just so excited about a great win. The whole time we’ve been staying together in the locker room despite everything going on around us,’’ Howard continued. ``As a team we haven’t allowed any of that stuff to sink into our heads and separate us.’’
- Anderson’s last 3-pointer of the night came on a strange play. Following a timeout, the Magic had just one second to get the ball across the halfcourt stripe and inbounded the ball high in the air to Howard. With several Washington players running at him to foul, Howard zipped a pass to Anderson, who buried his 64th 3-pointer of the season.
Said Howard: ``It was a big play. Everybody was running at me and I saw Ryan standing in the corner waving. He hit a big shot. That’s why he’s here.’’
- The Magic once again had major troubles getting the ball up the court against Washington’s full-court pressure.
For the past week, teams have hounded an Orlando team that’s without starting point guard Jameer Nelson (concussion). The result on Wednesday was 15 turnovers – eight of which came by virtue of steals from Wizards players. Matters got even worse in the fourth quarter when Chris Duhon (seven points and four assists) got hit in the eye and had to leave the game.
The Magic waived veteran guard Larry Hughes after the game, and plans are in the works to add a point guard from the NBA Developmental League.
``It’s frustrating to me as a coach because I can’t figure out what we’re doing wrong,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``The hard thing (Wednesday) night was that we couldn’t run anything. We couldn’t even get into our offense with their pressure.’’
- Of all the Magic players, the one most affected by the hectic nature of the schedule this season seems to be Hedo Turkoglu. A strong start to the season has given way to some ugly struggles of late for Turkoglu, who is struggling with his shot and is lacking the ability to get into the paint off the dribble.
Since missing two games with back spasms on Jan. 18 and 20, Turkoglu made just 12 of 48 shots and 10 of 30 3-pointers.
And things didn’t go much better Wednesday night with Turkoglu again struggling with his shot after often settling for off-balanced heaves. He made just one of seven tries in the first half against the Wizards and his one bucket was a banked in 3-pointer as the shot clock expired.
After two more misses in the third quarter, Turkoglu finally hit a short baseline shot. He celebrated the make by clutching his head with both hands.
As has often been the case with him, Turkoglu finished strong in the fourth quarter. He scored eight of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to salvage a five of 16 shooting night.
- Frustrated by a non-call on a power move to the rim in the third quarter, Howard flipped the ball into press row along the baseline and was whistled for another technical foul.
It was Howard’s sixth technical foul of the season, the second most in the NBA. Only Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins – who argues as if he’s never committed a foul in his NBA career – has more technical fouls with eight.
Howard led the NBA in technical fouls last season with 18, a number that resulted in two one-game suspensions and more than $1 million in fines. Because the NBA’s regular season was shortened to 66 games this season because of the lockout, players are now suspended for one game following their 13th technical foul. They are suspended a game for every second technical foul following the 13th.
- The Magic had back-to-back possessions in the second quarter that ended with Anderson 3-pointers, but they were hardly things of beauty.
On the first one, Redick fumbled a pass, jumped to save it from going out of bounds and flung the ball to Anderson, who drilled the shot. Seconds later, the Magic struggled to get the ball up the court and Turkoglu had to scramble to recover a loose ball. Just as the shot clock was about to expire, Turkoglu shuffled the ball to Anderson, whose 3-pointer put the Magic ahead 41-38.
- Second-year Washington guard John Wall looked disinterested for much of his 31 minutes on the floor, didn’t make a shot until late in the fourth quarter and rarely even looked to score while running the offense.
Washington coach Randy Wittman benched Wall for a long period of the fourth quarter, but did re-insert him late in the game. In all, Wall missed 11 of his 12 shots and scored just two points. He added 10 assists and six rebounds.
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