Denton: Magic Seek Some Revenge

By John Denton
February 9, 2012

ORLANDO – When the Orlando Magic have it rolling as they did Wednesday night against the Miami Heat – Dwight Howard was hustling and muscling on the inside and an arsenal of shooters were knocking down 3-pointers – anything seems possible.

The Magic barely had to break a sweat on Wednesday against the prohibitive favorite Heat after Howard hammered out 25 points and 24 rebounds and the Magic’s shooters buried 17 3-pointers on a franchise-record 42 attempts from beyond the arc.

The Magic’s mix between the inside and outside was a thing of beauty, much the way a football team mixes the run and the pass or a baseball team both hits for power and moves runners over with small ball. With all cylinders clicking, the Magic cruised to a 102-89 victory over Miami for arguably it’s most impressive win of the season.

``We just moved the ball and we had opportunities to score because we were penetrating their defense, kicking the ball out and getting the ball down to Dwight,’’ gushed Ryan Anderson, one of the Magic’s heroes with 27 points and five 3-pointers. ``When we play like that, it’s just fun.’’

Of course, the Magic have been through times when playing like that isn’t so fun because one facet of their inside-out attack is malfunctioning. Friday’s opponent, the Atlanta Hawks, could cause the Magic to suffer flashbacks to a time last spring when the Magic had Howard rolling but couldn’t make a shot from the outside.

Orlando lost in the first round of the playoffs last April to the Hawks, in large part, because their outside shooting inexplicably left them at the wrong time. On Friday night at the Amway Center, the Magic (16-10) face the Hawks (17-9) for the first time since that forgettable playoff series.

Minutes after mashing the Heat Wednesday night, Howard was already shifting his focus to the Hawks. An Atlanta native, Howard took last spring’s first-round faltering hard and vowed he wouldn’t soon forget losing that playoff series.

``We have to erase this (Miami victory) and move on to the Hawks,’’ said Howard, referring to an Atlanta team that beat Orlando 4-2 last spring.

In the eyes of the Magic, the game against the Hawks can’t get here fast enough. Orlando’s top outside shooters – Ryan Anderson, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson – combined to make just 28 of 116 3-pointers (24.1 percent) in the six-game series.

Considering their talent as shooters, the depth of the numbers from last spring was jaw-dropping. Redick made one of 15 3-point tries against the Hawks, including a shot at the end of Game 6 that could have tied the game. Turkoglu shot 23 percent from the 3-point line and 29 percent from the floor. Jameer Nelson made 23.1 percent from the 3-point line, while Anderson’s 3-point stroke dipped to 30 percent. Jason Richardson shot 32 percent in five games, but his suspension in Game 5 paved the way for the Magic to go two of 23 (8.7 percent) from beyond the stripe in a Game 4 loss in Atlanta.

The poor shooting in that series ruined an otherwise brilliant performance by Howard in which he averaged 27 points, 15.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. He had scoring performances of 46 and 33 points in the first two games along with 19 rebounds. He scored 29 points in Game 4 and 25 points in Game 6, but those performances were nullified by the poor shooting as the Magic lost both games.

The Magic certainly had no trouble finding the range from the arc in Wednesday’s beatdown of the Heat. Of the nine Magic players to get into the game, only Howard and power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis didn’t make a 3-pointer. Anderson drilled five, Richardson and Reddick connected on three each and Nelson and Quentin Richardson each had two 3s.

By attempting a franchise record 42 3-pointers and just 41 two-point shots, the Magic became just the fifth team in the past 15 years to take more shots from beyond the arc than inside of it. And here’s the beauty of it as far as the Magic are concerned: The offense operated inside-out and the Magic made the Heat pay desperately when they dared to dig down on Howard.

``I don’t think they were forced threes either. We got a lot of shots playing out of double teams or playing out of pick-and-rolls,’’ Redick said. ``We had a bunch of threes just off random plays where guys just drew a second defender and made the right play and we got some shots.’’

Added Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: ``I thought we did a good job gathering ourselves, we held our composure and nobody seemed the least bit worried. We just kept making plays.’’

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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