Savage & Cohen: Magic-Knicks Postgame Analysis

By Josh Cohen
December 30, 2010


WHAT WENT RIGHT

After trading away both Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis, the Orlando Magic realized they would need to convince one of their newcomers to be the go-to guy down the stretch of a close game.

Luckily for the blue and white, it really wasn’t a difficult task since Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu, particularly, have proven throughout their careers to be heroes when asked to be.

On Thursday against New York, both Turkoglu and Jason Richardson answered the bell.

J-Rich, for one, buried a critical 3-pointer with 3:41 remaining after the Knicks cut the Magic’s lead to two and Hedo followed with a trey of his own and a driving layup on consecutive possessions to secure Orlando’s fifth straight win.

Perhaps the best word to describe the revitalized and reformed Magic is “balanced.”

During this five-game winning streak, the Magic have won because everyone who sees the court has been contributing.

Against San Antonio, seven Magic players scored in double figures, against Boston five, versus New Jersey six, in Cleveland four and on Thursday, they featured seven in double digits.

Before Brandon Bass became a regular starter, I began to endorse him as a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate. The six-year veteran has been outstanding this season and is showing why the Magic signed him to a multi-year deal in 2009.

Since he is a starter now, someone else has been given the opportunity to claim the candidacy as a potential Sixth Man of the Year: J.J. Redick.

The sharpshooting guard has been tremendous off the bench since the trades occurred and on Thursday, he continued to shine with 14 points, including a dagger jumper with 50 seconds left in the fourth.


Josh Cohen
If not Sixth Man of the Year, Redick could possibly be the league’s Most Improved Player.

While President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith continues his quest to find a backup center, the Magic somehow overcame size deficiency to dominate the glass.

Dwight Howard recorded 18 rebounds as Orlando controlled a 51-35 advantage on the boards.

WHAT WENT WRONG

After dominating the second quarter and building a lead as big as 20, the Magic loosened up in the third quarter to allow the Knicks to sneak back into the game.

New York accumulated 59 points in the second half while shooting better than 50 percent.

Howard was called for his 12th technical foul of the season for arguing with the officials. If and when he picks up 16 technicals, D12 will be suspended for a game.

Quentin Richardson stayed home as he continues to battle with the flu. After a stomach virus epidemic swept through the team earlier this month, the Magic are taking no chances of something similar happening again.

Since the beginning of the month, only Bass has played in every Magic game. Everyone else was sick or injured at some point, traded or is new.

FINAL OBSERVATIONS

I would be ecstatic if the Magic and Knicks end up playing each other in the playoffs. I think it would be a fascinating series, especially offensively since both teams flourish on their offensive firepower.

A Howard-Stoudemire matchup over the course of a seven-game series would be enthralling and would definitely excite both Orlando and New York fans.

Smith, the Magic’s General Manager, will have a very difficult and intricate decision to make over the next few weeks as he attempts to acquire a backup center. Everyone who is currently seeing playing time on the Magic is performing at a reasonably high level, and the last thing he wants to do is shatter chemistry.

The team, overall, seems very loose, very focused and very determined to be in a championship mode by the start of the playoffs.

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