FINAL: ORLANDO MAGIC 118, HOUSTON ROCKETS 104


GameNight Specifics
NBA Coverage: Game Info
Date: Saturday, Jan. 22
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Location: Toyota Center (Houston, TX)
Radio: AM 580 WDBO, AM 1270 WRLZ
Television: Sun Sports



PROJECTED MATCHUPS

LINEUPS MAY CHANGE BY GAME TIME


TEAM
PG
SG
C
PF
SF
R
R
MAGIC
Jameer Nelson

Jason Richardson

Dwight Howard

Brandon Bass

Hedo Turkoglu

Gilbert Arenas

J.J. Redick
ROCKETS
Kyle Lowry

Kevin Martin

Jordan Hill

Luis Scola

Shane Battier

Courtney Lee

Brad Miller





















GAME RECAP


HOUSTON — Dwight Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds, Hedo Turkoglu added 21 points and the Orlando Magic built a big first-half lead on their way to an easy 118-104 win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Jason Richardson hit four three-pointers and scored 18 for the Magic, who went 13 for 32 from three-point range. Orlando came in leading the league in three-pointers made and attempted.

Chase Budinger scored 19 points and Kevin Martin added 18 to lead the Rockets, who shot 39 per cent (37 of 95).

The Magic pulled away in the second quarter, and led 68-51 at the break. Orlando shot 59 per cent (26 of 44), went 8 for 17 from three-point range and outrebounded the Rockets 27-18 in the first half.

All five Orlando starters made more than half their shots and reached double figures.

Houston's Chuck Hayes, the league's shortest starting centre at six foot six, flustered Howard for a while, forcing two early turnovers. Turkoglu flipped an alley-oop pass to Howard for a dunk, his first field goal, with 4:34 left in the opening quarter.

The Magic hit their first five three-point attempts and led 34-26 by the start of the second. Ryan Anderson and Richardson then swished threes early in a decisive 16-4 spurt.

Orlando hit 17 of its first 24 shots, while the Rockets made only 10 of their first 29. Howard cheered from the sideline as the Magic pushed the lead over 20 in the second quarter, scoring many of their points on layups and dunks.

Howard returned, and Hayes sparked a mild Houston rally by twice knocking the ball away from him. But Turkoglu swished a pullup jumper, Richardson scored in the lane and Orlando retook control.

Howard spun around Hayes for a reverse dunk five minutes into the third quarter as Orlando stayed comfortably ahead. Luis Scola scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting for Houston in the quarter — the rest of the Rockets went 6 for 19.

Orlando led 100-76 after three quarters and hordes of fans started filing out of the arena. Howard, Turkoglu and Nelson sat out the fourth quarter one night after the Magic routed Toronto 112-72 in Orlando.

The Magic shot 53 per cent (46 of 87) in Saturday night's win.

NOTES: Howard has at least 10 rebounds and two blocks in 24 games this season. ... The Magic are 50-1 since the start of the 2008-09 season when shooting 50 per cent or better. ... Orlando's 68 first-half points were a season-high for a Houston opponent. ... Rockets C Brad Miller missed his seventh straight game with soreness in his left knee, and coach Rick Adelman wasn't sure when the seven-footer might return to the lineup. "His knee just hasn't responded, so I really don't know," Adelman said. "We thought he might play this week, but so far, no." ... Hall of Fame centres Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, who faced off in the 1994 NBA finals, watched the game at opposite ends of the court — Olajuwon from a midcourt seat and Ewing, now a Magic assistant, from the Orlando bench.





COHEN'S ANALYSIS AT ROCKETS


If there was such a thing as a perfect team performance – which according to just about any coach in any sport at any level is practically unattainable – Saturday’s contest against the Rockets would best illustrate one.

It was so imposing that the entire team should probably watch the videotape from this game each night before they go to bed.

Outstanding in nearly every statistical category and proficient in its overall execution, Orlando dominated from essentially the opening tip to the final buzzer in a 118-104 victory in Houston.

Not only did the Magic shoot well from the field – an attribute they have proven to be exceptional at since overhauling their roster in late December – but also they defended with desire and a purpose.

In contrast to Orlando’s thrashing of Toronto on Friday when Dwight Howard almost single-handedly catapulted his team with a third-quarter demolition, in Houston it was more of a balanced attack throughout.

Like it was recently when the Magic matched a franchise high with nine straight wins, seven players scored in double figures, including Howard (22 points and 14 rebounds), Hedo Turkoglu (season-high 21 points), Brandon Bass (18), Jason Richardson (18), J.J. Redick (13), Ryan Anderson (12) and Jameer Nelson (10).

Turkoglu, Nelson and Gilbert Arenas also combined to dish out 19 assists.

"Our ball movement was really good," Stan Van Gundy said. "I thought it was a good all-around performance."

It was also imperative for Orlando to deliver a convincing performance on the road. During their recent four-game road trip, the Magic stumbled in three of those contests.

While the Rockets are not currently a playoff team and aren’t the kind of competition the Magic will have to contend with in the later rounds of the postseason, road wins tend to give teams more confidence and a greater sense of concord.

Especially if Orlando does not climb all the way up in the standings (currently fourth in the East), it will be vital for the Magic to have assurance and poise about prevailing away from home (ex. winning a big game in Boston or Miami).

It was also fitting that Hall of Famer and former NBA champion Hakeem Olajuwon was sitting courtside during Saturday’s action. For a few days over this past summer, Howard worked exclusively with the legendary center to enhance his overall game.

With Superman reaching new heights this season – particularly with his improved offensive repertoire – it was pleasant to see D12 showcase his revamped skills in front of Hakeem. At one point after he connected on a 15-foot bank shot, Howard looked over to The Dream and smiled.

Check out my top three storylines from Saturday:

READ ENTIRE ANALYSIS





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