Denton's Dish: The 5th Quarter (4/5/14)
By John Denton
April 5, 2014
ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic placed five players in double figures in scoring and got a huge fourth-quarter boost from Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris and Kyle O’Quinn to surge past the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves 100-92.
Here are five takeaways from Saturday night’s game at the Amway Center:
WINNING TIME: The Magic went into the fourth quarter shooting almost 53 percent, but they were trailing by five points because of their sloppy ball-handling their fouling of the Timberwolves.
But the Magic used the fourth quarter – ``winning time,’’ according to O’Quinn – to clean up their earlier errors and capture a much-needed victory. Orlando hit 11 of 18 shots and three of four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter alone to outscore Minnesota 28-15 in the final quarter.
Harris got the magic within one when he stole the ball under Minnesota’s rim, sprinted the length of the floor and dunked. He then gave the Magic their first lead since the second quarter when he took a pick-and-roll feed from Oladipo for another thunderous dunk.
``We were looking for some kind of spark and T.B (Tobias) came off the bench and he always gives us energy,’’ O’Quinn said. ``He had the nice dunks and he came to the bench pumped up and they had to call timeout. That might have been the big turning point for us. It’s what we needed. After that, we just stuck with the plan.’’
FULL NELSON: As he’s aged and ceded some playing time to standout rookie Victor Oladipo, veteran point guard Jameer Nelson has at times become a forgotten man in Orlando. But the 10-year veteran is still capable of putting up big numbers – as evidenced as his placement as ninth in the league in assists per game (6.9 apg.).
Nelson had assists on all of Orlando’s first six baskets. And for the game, Nelson handed out 12 assists – his 11th double-digit assist night of the season. His passing was contagious as the Magic had 29 assists on their 43 made baskets.
Nelson said he relies more on his veteran savvy to get the job done as a point guard.
``I’ve grown in that mental area in my career,’’ Nelson said. ``I’m still a scorer and I’m a guy who takes the opportunities to score when they are there. I just want to play the right way and finish strong. If I have to go get 20 (points) to help the team win – as long as I’m playing the right way – I’ll do it.’’
BOUNCE BACK FOR O'QUINN: Kyle O’Quinn was put in a tough spot on Friday in Charlotte when he was switched from the power forward spot to the center position just minutes before the game. The change was necessitated by Nikola Vucevic’s sore left Achilles and it came with little warning for O’Quinn and the Magic.
Predictably, O’Quinn struggled in his matchup against Al Jefferson and he got stuck taking a lot of shots that were out of his comfort zone. O’Quinn made just five of his career-high 20 shots on Friday, scoring 10 points.
Many with the Magic had their eyes on O’Quinn to see how he would bounce back. Dewayne Dedmon got the start at center, allowing O’Quinn to return to the power forward slot he has manned for a month now.
Ultimately, he hammered the undersized Timberwolves for 14 points, 13 rebounds, four offensive boards and four blocked shots. O’Quinn was well aware that he was being looked to to respond on Saturday.
``I wanted to see how I responded from (Friday) night,’’ O’Quinn said. ``It was a rough night for me. I wanted to bounce back for myself, and for the team to get a win. There were some points (on Friday) that I could have made a shot and turned things around, but I missed it and we lost. I wanted to bounce back and I glad Coach (Jacque Vaughn) stood by my side.’’
ALL-AROUND BAD NIGHT: Minnesota guard Corey Brewer came to the scorer’s table during halftime and asked for a score update. No, he wasn’t looking for Magic-Timberwolves score. He wanted to know how his alma mater, the University of Florida, was doing in its National Semifinal game against Connecticut.
Brewer, who helped Florida win national titles in 2006 and ’07, was unhappy to hear that the top-seeded Gators were smothered by UConn all night and lost 63-53. And in a fitting end to his night, Brewer’s Timberwolves fell apart in the fourth quarter and lost to the Magic.
As for Florida falling, Brewer said: ``(His teammates) gave me a lot of crap. They kept updating me, but it was a tough loss. I figured we were going to win it this year. We had a good year and we won 30 straight games. It’s tough.’’
A MILESTONE FOR DEDMON: Dedmon wears No. 3 for the Magic as a reminder that he’s played for three NBA teams this season. After signing with the Magic for the rest of the season, he’s hoping that he’s found a home in Orlando. The 7-foot Dedmon, who has played for Golden State and Philadelphia this season before sticking with the Magic, got the first start of his NBA career on Saturday in place of Vucevic. Coincidentally, Vucevic and Dedmon were teammates during one season at USC before making it to the NBA.
Dedmon didn’t start playing basketball until his senior year of high school because of religious beliefs of his family. Just seven years into his basketball career, he took great significance in earning a start on Saturday.
``Definitely it’s special for me. That’s the goal of everybody once you make it to the league,’’ Dedmon said. ``I wanted to crack that starting lineup and it’s good feeling to get in there after basically just getting here.’’
Dedmon had just two points on Saturday, but he did snag six rebounds and he played well in the post against rising rookie Gorgui Dieng. Vaughn has said that Dedmon does so many things that don’t show up in the boxscore like crashing the glass to free up others and rolling hard to the rim and screen-and-roll plays.
``That’s just a part of what I do,’’ Dedmon said. ``I pride myself on doing the little, intangible things. It’s not the ceiling for me, but it’s part of what I can do for this team.’’
Dedmon said he plans to spend his entire summer in Orlando working on his game and it’s his plan for now to play with the Magic’s Summer League squad.