Denton's Dish: Magic at Raptors (3/26/12)



By John Denton
March 26, 2012


Considering the way the Orlando Magic shot the ball from 3-point range on Monday night in Toronto, it was as if they were the ones wearing camouflage uniforms. It was actually the Raptors dressed in green and black camouflage uniforms, but they never saw what hit them on this night.

Riding a career-best shooting night from NBA 3-point leader Ryan Anderson, the Magic made 15 3-pointers and Dwight Howard provided the muscle on the inside in a 117-101 defeat of the hapless Raptors.

Anderson made eight 3-pointers, the most in a season in which he had already made seven in a game three times, and scored 28 points. Six different Magic players hit 3-pointers as the Magic equaled their high for points on the season and made their second most 3-pointers in a game.

``It was just us moving the ball and coming out with a ton of energy,’’ said Anderson, who made nine of 15 shots and eight of 13 3-pointers. ``We were getting into pick-and-rolls and really moving the defense around. That’s something we need to do more of.’’

Howard added 23 points and 10 rebounds, while point guard Jameer Nelson added 18 points and seven assists. Glen Davis added 13 points, while J.J. Redick chipped in 12 points.

The Magic (32-18) won their third game in a row after losing consecutive games to Miami and Chicago last week. Orlando has beaten Phoenix, Cleveland and Toronto over the past six days. The Magic close their two-game roadtrip in New York on Wednesday night. The hope is that they take their hot shooting with them to New York, where they made a season-best 17 3-pointers earlier in the year.

``We played well offensively and we shot the ball well,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``Dwight was dominant on the inside and they were leaving Ryan. So it was pretty easy to get shots. We made some good plays on pick-and-rolls and only turned the ball over nine times.’’

Things were so hopeless and hapless for the Raptors (16-34) that the loudest cheer of the night came with 2.1 seconds remaining as the home team trailed by 17 points. The crowd cheered wildly when Ed Davis flipped in a hook shot that gave the Raptors 100 points and guaranteed fans a free slice of pizza. Van Gundy had to ask what was going on and playfully chided the fans for celebrating so much for just a slice of pizza.

``That’s as loud as (the fans) were all night. But they were into that,’’ Van Gundy said of the cheering fans. ``They are going to put that on their highlight film at the end of the year. I was surprised. I thought he had an 18-point play and tied the game. A slice? You have to sit in your seat and clap for a slice. You can’t stand and cheer that; that’s bad etiquette.’’

Here is a look back at the key moments from Monday’s game at the Air Canada Centre:


    MAGICAL MOMENTS

  • Anderson entered Monday’s game as the NBA’s leader in both 3-pointers made (135) and 3-pointers attempted (331), but apparently the Magic’s game films this season didn’t make it through customs for the Raptors to view. Remarkably, he was wide open all night long with seven of the eight threes being mostly uncontested.

    ``Guys were coming off of me trying to stop Dwight in the paint. There were a lot of eyes on Dwight and guys were finding me,’’ Anderson said. ``(Hedo Turkoglu) had a great night with assists and there were a lot of open angles. I had a ton of open shots and that got me rolling. It was a good game and we really moved the ball and played well.’’

    Anderson made six 3-pointers in the first half, many of them coming on wide-open shots when the Raptors collapsed inside on Howard. Three of the threes came off assists from Jameer Nelson, while Howard, J.J. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu also assisted on 3-pointers for Anderson.

    Anderson made six of nine shots from beyond the arc in the first half. He made six of the Magic’s nine 3-pointers in the first half. The Magic shot 54 percent in the first half, made nine of 19 3-pointers and led 61-49 at the break.

    His career-high eighth 3-pointer came with 9:23 off a feed from Redick to put the Magic up 109-89. It was another case for Anderson to possibly win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, an honor which he might be the favor to nab.

    ``God has really given me a great opportunity to play consistently. It has opened up a lot of opportunities for me. Instead of coming off the bench or not playing I have had a consistent role and that’s helped,’’ Anderson said. ``That Most Improved stuff in way in the back of my mind and I just want to continue to improve. We have to continue playing the way we’re playing because it’s fun basketball. We have to get ready for the playoffs.’’

  • Howard destroyed the Raptors inside, hitting hooks with both hands and converting two thunderous dunks. He made eight of 14 shots and seven of 10 free throws.

    Four of his 10 rebounds came on the offensive end of the floor.

    Also, Howard’s defensive rotations were spot on and played a big role in Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani being limited to just eight points and three rebounds.

    MAGIC MYSTERY

  • The Magic led 10-0 right off the bat and soared ahead 24-8 on an alley-oop lob pass from Nelson to Howard. But the Magic relaxed, got sloppy offensively and couldn’t find a way to stop Linus Kleiza.

    Doing most of its work against the Magic’s second unit, Toronto closed the first quarter on an 18-4 run to get within 28-26 by the end of the period. And a basket by Kleiza to open the second period tied the game at 28-all, bringing the Raptors all the way back from the early 16-point deficit.

    ``Defensively we tried to keep two guys on Jose Calderon and we took away some of their pick-and-roll stuff,’’ Van Gundy said. ``But after the first few minutes, we struggled defensively most of the night.’’

    MAGIC MOVES

  • Anderson and Nelson extended a couple of impressive streaks early in the game with 3-point shots. Anderson has now made at least one 3-pointer in each of the past 29 games, while Nelson has hit a 3-pointer in 21 straight games.

  • Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis got off to a good start Monday night, but had to leave the game because of a cut to the head that drew blood. The cut required five stitches to close and Davis wore a bandage and a headband on his head in the second half of the game.

    Davis took a pocket pass from J.J. Redick and converted a tough layup in traffic despite getting hit in the head by Toronto point guard Jose Calderon. However, it was all for naught as Redick was called for a charge on the play and Davis’ basket was wiped off the board.

    He was later hit in the nose on a layup and again knocked to the floor in the fourth quarter on a layup.

  • The Magic have a tendency to go offensively as Nelson and Turkoglu go, and both of the Magic’s playmakers were very good on Monday night. Nelson made eight of 11 shots and two of three 3-pointers. He had seven assists to go with his 18 points. Turkoglu missed seven of his nine shots and was off on six 3-point shots, but he had a game-high eight assists. The Magic were a plus-29 in Turkoglu’s 35 minutes on the floor.

    Said Nelson: ``We’re playing the right way. We’re moving the ball and not just holding it over our heads and trying to force the ball to the (Howard). He’s getting a lot of paint catches and that’s helping our offense.’’

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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