Denton: Magic-Lakers Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
March 14, 2011

LOS ANGELES – When discussing the legitimacy of his team as a true championship contender prior to Monday night’s nationally televised showdown against the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic offered up several reasons why the Magic are a powerful and dangerous team … with one caveat.

``We’re pretty good,’’ Van Gundy said, ``when we’re not throwing the ball to the other team.’’

Van Gundy was talking, of course, about the Magic’s problems with turnovers. That area of concern reared its ugly head again Monday night when the Lakers picked up the defensive pressure and the Magic collapsed under an avalanche errors and botched possessions.

The Magic shot well enough (47.1 percent) and held Kobe Bryant and Company in check for a half, but ultimately the errors piled up and the Lakers poured it on in the second half of an unsightly 97-84 Orlando loss at Staples Center.

Orlando (42-26) lost because it turned the ball over 18 times compared to L.A. (48-20) kicking it away just five times all night. Magic superstar center Dwight Howard hit the Lakers for 22 points and 15 rebounds, but he turned the ball over nine times because of harassing double teams.

The turnovers resulted in the Lakers getting 21 extra shot attempts and the Lakers holding a 20-3 advantage in points off turnovers. The Lakers also had more second-chance points (24-10), points in the paint (44-34) and fastbreak points (20-5).

The Lakers’ length – namely power forward Pau Gasol (23 points), center Andrew Bynum (10 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks) and reserve forward Lamar Odom (16 points and six rebounds) – bothered the Magic all night.

``It’s pretty easy; all you have to do is look at the stat sheet,’’ Van Gundy fumed afterward. ``They had eight more offensive rebounds than we did and they had 13 fewer turnovers. That’s 21 more shots and that’s the ball game. The game was on the boards and taking care of the ball. Other than that, we played a fairly even basketball game.’’

Many of the turnovers were of a wacky variety. Point guard Jameer Nelson, who had 13 points and eight assists, committed four turnovers, but three were for offensive fouls. He was twice called for pushing Derek Fisher off him and another time for running over Bryant. Howard had nine turnovers, but two came on questionable offensive foul calls and two on three-seconds violations.

``The turnovers were a problem, and most of my turnovers came because of three seconds and offensive fouls,’’ Howard said. ``I don’t know what to do about it other than just play through it.’’

Bryant, who was questionable to play because of a sprained ankle, scored 12 of his 16 points in the third quarter. Bryant, who rehabilitated his ankle most of Sunday and stayed in the Magic’s downtown L.A. hotel for more work on the ankle on Monday, made a quick return likely because the Magic routed the Lakers 89-75 at Amway Center back on Feb. 13.

``It was more mental. I was still kind of being unsure because I hadn’t really tested it out,’’ Bryant said. ``It throws my balance off. I was kind of leaning to the right a little more. But by the second half, you just have to shoot the shot.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Monday night’s nationally televised rematch against the Lakers: