Denton's Dish: Magic vs. Bucks (2/17/12)

By John Denton
February 17, 2012

ORLANDO – Speaking like a man unsure of how to feel about what had just transpired, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy alternated between praising his team for its strong finish and criticizing it for roughly 43 minutes of shoddy play.

The Magic simply weren’t very good Friday night at the Amway Center, but they were once again good enough to surge past the undermanned Milwaukee Bucks. Nearly a week after pulling off a 10-point comeback against the Bucks, the Magic did the same thing on Friday, using a strong closing kick from Hedo Turkoglu and another 20/20 night from Dwight Howard in a 95-84 whipping of Milwaukee.

Turkoglu scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a fade-away jumper with 4:50 to play which gave the Magic their first lead since 5-4 in the first period. The Magic never trailed the rest of the way as the Bucks missed 15 of their last 16 shots, including 11 straight misfires to end the game.

Howard ensured the Magic (20-11) of their fourth straight win and their eighth victory in the past 10 games. The all-star center recorded his seventh 20/20 game of the season with 26 points and 20 rebounds. And for good measure he added four blocked shots and made 10 of 14 free throws to creep his percentage up to 50.1 percent for the season.

Still, Van Gundy didn’t know what to make of the disjointed effort. But he was confident that the Magic can’t keep playing that way if they expect to continue their winning ways on the upcoming six-day, four-game roadtrip.

``As soon as (hearing Milwaukee’s Drew Gooden wouldn’t be playing) I was not shocked with what we came out with at the beginning of the game and it’s inexcusable,’’ Van Gundy said. ``We’ve played pretty well over the last 10 games and I think we might be getting a little full of ourselves and then with (Milwaukee’s Drew) Gooden not there we just thought we were going to walk to a victory. What’s dangerous is the (winning) result. Now, we think we can just turn it on whenever we want. That’s not going to be the case, particularly going out on the road for four games in five nights in four cities. Hopefully we’ll come back to Earth and realize we have to play hard all of the time.’’

The Magic trailed 82-72 early in the fourth period and were still behind 85-77 when Shaun Livingston made a hook over Howard with 6 minutes to play. But Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson combined to score the next 12 points to dig Orlando out of the hole and rescue the victory.

``We had energy all along, but we needed to tighten up our defense and make better plays on offense,’’ said Magic forward Ryan Anderson, who scored 23 points and made four more 3-pointers. ``At the end, when we should have been the most tired, we played with great energy and got the win.’’

Here’s a closer look at some of the key moments from Friday’s game at the Amway Center:


  • Howard was solid in every phase of the game, making eight of 12 shots from the floor and 10 of 14 from the free throw line.

    He had four offensive rebounds and his 20th board of the night came in the closing seconds, ensuring him of another 20-point, 20-rebound night. It’s the 39th 20/20 game of Howard’s illustrious eight-year NBA career.

    For a second consecutive game, Howard did not address the media. He is upset that comments he made last week about wanting the ball more at the end of games were misconstrued by the media.

    Said Van Gundy: ``Dwight was everywhere in this game.’’

  • As is so often the case with him, Turkoglu took the game over in the fourth quarter. Turkoglu had a driving layup that he converted into a 3-point play, a nifty left-handed layup, a fade-away jumper in the lane and three more assists in the fourth period to finish off the Bucks.

    He brought the fans out of their seats in the final minute when he took a run-out pass and instead of scoring threw the ball up to Howard for a flush.

    Said Van Gundy, making light of Turkoglu’s poor first three quarters: ``I thought he was probably well-rested for the fourth quarter. And then he played very well in the fourth.’’

  • Seemingly dead in the water and trailing by 13 points late in the second quarter after a sluggish start to the game, the Magic got back into it with a 14-1 run over the final 5:22 of the first half.

    Howard had six points during the run and his technical foul accounted for Milwaukee’s only point. Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick got to the rim for layups and Richardson drilled a 3-pointer to get the surging Magic within two points of the lead.


  • The Bucks were without starting center Andrew Bogut (broken ankle) and Drew Gooden (sprained wrist) and still Howard got very few shots in the first half.

    Howard got just six shots and eight free throw attempts in the first half as the Magic hoisted 14 3-pointers and kicked the ball away far too often. The Magic had eight turnovers in the first two quarters, leading to eight Milwaukee points.

    Howard got it rolling in the second quarter, hitting three spin moves in the post against the illustrious duo of Larry Sanders and Jon Brockman. However, Howard was whistled for his eighth technical foul of the season with 90 seconds left in the first half when he argued a no-call on one of his made baskets.

  • Jason Richardson tied a Magic franchise record a week ago against Milwaukee by making eight second-half 3-pointers, but he rarely played in the second half of Friday’s game versus the Bucks.

    For the game, he made just two of 11 shots and two of six 3-pointers. He didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter as Van Gundy instead went with J.J. Redick (11 points, three assists).

    ``That just lets you know what kind of team that we have. One guy isn’t having the best night and good teams find somebody else to step up,’’ Richardson said.


  • Howard is known throughout the NBA for his physical play, and sometimes even his teammates are the victims of Howard’s friendly fire.

    Through the years, Howard has accidentally given Nelson two concussions with elbows and in collisions. And he famously knocked out former teammate Courtney Lee in a playoff game by coming down on him on a blocked shot attempt.

    Reserve Magic forward Earl Clark is Howard’s latest victim, busting his lip open after an accidental hit in Friday’s game. Clark and Howard went up to block a shot – Clark actually got the block – and Howard’s arms accidentally landed on Clark’s head. Clark had to leave the game when the referees saw blood coming from his bottom lip.

  • Nelson missed 10 days in late January and early February after getting in the head and suffering the third concussion of his career. So you might understand why Nelson might be a little sensitive when taking shots to the head.

    Nelson was hit in the head twice in the third quarter – once on a forearm to the jaw by Ersan Ilyasova and a second time on a shoulder to the head by Brockman.

    An irate Nelson argued after the first hit, enough so to draw a technical foul from referee Marat Kogut. Nelson continued his discussions with lead official Derrick Stafford at the end of the third period, pointing to the two spots on his head where he was clipped by elbows and shoulders.

  • Howard’s frustration in the fourth quarter resulted in another point for the Bucks. Angry about an offensive foul call when Brockman clearly flopped, Howard walked back up the floor with the ball in his hands.

    A delay of game call was made, and because it was the second of the game, it resulted in a technical foul on the Magic. Brandon Jennings’ free throw allowed the Bucks to pull ahead 83-77 with 6:09 to play.

  • Said Quentin Richardson of the Magic’s fourth-quarter rally: ``We got our energy late in the game and our defense picked up. I think (defense) is always going to predicate the way we play down the stretch. We have to bring our defense and get stops. We’ve shown when we do that, we can win games.’’

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

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