Denton: Magic-Lakers Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
March 14, 2011


  • Howard continued to show off his offensive improvement early in the game with 13 first-half points. What was most impressive was that four of Howard’s five field goals in the first half were mid-range jump shots. He routinely burned Andrew Bynum when he backed off and played Howard for the drive, softly kissing the ball off the glass. Howard’s jumpers were measured at 19, 13, 12 and 12 feet.

    Joked Howard: ``Who do they look for now when the shot clock is running down? Me!’’

    Bymnum had good reason to back up after Howard torched the Lakers for 31 points, 13 rebounds and five rebounds. Howard made 13 of 16 shots that night and before Monday’s game Van Gundy called it ``easily Dwight’s best game of the year.’’

    Howard finished eight of 14 from the floor and six of 11 from the free throw line, but he was unhappy at how the Magic stopped going inside in the third quarter.

    ``In the first half, we were running, swinging the ball around, playing inside-out and getting good shots,’’ Howard said. But in the third quarter we started taking a lot of quick shots and got away from what we do. We have to be more consistent.’’


  • The third quarter was a disastrous one for the Magic as the Lakers held a 30-20 advantage in the period. That meant the Lakers went from up five points to down five points by the start of the fourth quarter.

    The Magic turned the ball over six times in the third quarter, four of them coming from Howard. That ignited the Lakers offense and Bryant made the Magic pay for the miscues with 12 third-quarter points.

    ``Everything we did in the first half we just let it go in the third quarter,’’ said Ryan Anderson, who started at power forward, scored 13 points, made four 3-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds. ``They had a huge run in the third quarter and it was a really quick turnaround. We weren’t taking care of the ball and we were taking tough shots.’’

  • The Magic led 46-41 at the half Monday night, but the problem was that the lead should have been much bigger considering the Lakers’ struggles early in the game.

    Bryant made just two of 10 shots in the first half, while Gasol made only five of 11. Andrew Bynum had 11 rebounds in the first quarter and 12 in the first half, but he struggled to convert those chances by missing five of seven shots early.

    The Lakers shot just 35.4 percent in the first half and missed six of their seven 3-point attempts.

    ``Andrew is doing a great job of protecting our basket and playing defense, giving us a force inside that’s hard to come by,’’ Odom said of Bynum. ``He’s doing it without even scoring sometimes, which not many players in this league can do.’’


  • Howard got to truly know Bryant during the 2008 Summer Olympics, and the two have since become close friends with the Lakers’ star doling out advice to help the Magic center improve his mental game. Of course, that has fueled speculation that Bryant may try to recruit Howard to the Lakers when he becomes an unrestricted free agent following the 2011-12 season.

    Howard said Bryant’s encouragement has helped him improve his intensity and killer instinct when on the court.

    ``I always take up for Kobe when people say Kobe’s a certain way,’’ Howard said. ``But he can be the nicest guy in the world and then when he gets on the court he just wants to win and nothing else. It’s like he has that switch. He’s so focused.’’

  • The celebrities were out in full force for the high profile Magic-Lakers game. Here are just a few seen Monday night: Jack Nicholson, Andy Garcia, Robert Downey Jr., Vanessa Hudgens and Maria Shriver.

    John Denton writes for E-mail John at Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at