Denton's Dish: Magic vs. Timberwolves (2/13/12)
By John Denton
February 13, 2012
ORLANDO – When asked before Monday’s game about franchise center Dwight Howard’s desire to be a fourth-quarter closer for the Orlando Magic, head coach Stan Van Gundy didn’t want to commit to such a plan because his team has so many different weapons.
Never was that more evident than Monday night when the Magic battered the Minnesota Timberwolves from several different angles by getting contributions from up and down the roster.
The Magic improved to 13-1 this season when scoring 100 points and 10-2 when five players score in double figures in a relatively easy, breezy 102-89 defeat of the much-improved Minnesota Timberwolves at the Amway Center.
Fresh off a torrid nine-3-pointer effort in Saturday’s defeat of Milwaukee, Jason Richardson led the Magic (18-11) with 17 points and two 3-pointers. Three other players – Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick – each scored 14 points, while Dwight Howard chipped in 11 and Ryan Anderson scored 13.
``It was a great team win because we had everybody step up and we did a lot of things right,’’ Richardson said. ``We’re a dangerous team in a lot of different ways. We have a lot of guys who can score the ball. We’re doing a great job to figure out a way. In this one, we did everything right to get the win.’’
The Magic turned the ball over just nine times and won on a night when Howard struggled through a second straight frustrating shooting night. Howard made just four of 11 shots and failed to get double-digit rebounds for only the fifth time all season, but on this night it didn’t matter because of the Magic’s well-balanced offense.
``Our superstar was in foul trouble and we were still able to pull the game out. That’s always great,’’ said Earl Clark, who had eight points, five rebounds and two blocks off the bench. ``We’re playing really good basketball right now and we’re moving the ball.’’
Here’s a closer look at some of the key moments from Monday night’s game at the Amway Center:
- After missing two games at the end of January to rehabilitate an injury to his left knee, Richardson has returned to average 18.1 points per game over the last seven outings. It’s no coincidence that the Magic are 5-2 in those games with the only losses coming in overtime to the Clippers and Hawks.
Finally healthy and aided by the addition of some new plays installed by Van Gundy, Richardson is playing his best basketball at a time when the Magic desperately need it.
``I wasn’t healthy the first time I came back because I still had that bone bruise in my knee, but my competitive side wanted to be out there playing,’’ said Richardson, who tied a franchise record on Saturday with eight second-half 3-pointers. ``Once I got those two days off I got the rest that I needed. I did a lot of treatment and I came back a lot healthier.’’
- The Magic got a nice lift off the bench in the first half from Clark, who was used to give the Magic another big body to throw at Love on the inside.
Clark had not played in the past three games, but had himself ready to play on Monday night. Clark is one of the Magic’s earliest players to arrive at the arena each game night and gets in almost an hour’s workout before games.
In the first half, he made four of five shots, including a scintillating follow-up dunk of a missed shot that brought his Magic teammates off the bench in appreciation. Clark had three rebounds to go with his eight rebounds in the first half and he received a nice ovation when he checked out of the game late in the second period.
Clark had another highlight worthy play near the end of the third quarter by swatting a Rubio hook shot in the final seconds of the period.
- Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis, who has made no secret of being unhappy about his role in the Magic’s offense, continues to struggle with his shot. At times, Davis tends to force moves in the post and he isn’t shooting his jump shot with much confidence.
On Monday, he missed five of his first six shots in the first half, including consecutive layups on one possession. Things got worse in the second half as the crowd grew restless. Davis missed all four of his shots before he was pulled from the game with 5:47 to play.
Van Gundy stuck up for Davis, alluding to the fact that the veteran power forward is playing through some family issues. Van Gundy would not go into detail about the issue.
``There are some other things going on, which I’m not going to talk about,’’ Van Gundy said. ``He’s got some other things going on personally that … the fact he decided to go out there and give us those minutes is pretty good for what he’s got going on. I think it was a really tough night for him to focus in. I don’t think he should be judged at all on what happened tonight.’’
Davis was suspended on Feb. 3 for two games for an outburst directed at Van Gundy during a morning shootaround. The veteran power forward, who left Boston for a bigger role in Orlando, entered Monday’s game shooting a career-worst 36.3 percent from the floor. He’s averaging just 7.0 points a game, the fewest since his second year in the NBA.
- Nelson barely avoided a second game in the past four where he did not have an assist. Nelson bounced back from a twisted knee in the third period and had two assists down the stretch.
Nelson otherwise played brilliantly. He made six of 11 shots and two of three 3-pointers and forced Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio into five turnovers.
- Minnesota all-star power forward had 19 points and 15 rebounds, but it was an otherwise forgettable game for him. Fumed Love: ``We have to stay together and really have a sense of urgency to win.’’
- How about this for starters? Referee Marc Davis threatened to give the Magic a technical foul before the game ever started because the team took so long getting onto the floor.
As the Magic were getting one last word from Van Gundy in the huddle and going through their handshake rituals, Davis twice blew his whistle. After addressing the Magic bench, Davis warned Howard with a technical foul for delaying the start of the game.
Davis’ jump ball toss came before Howard was fully set to go and the franchise center never left the floor, easily allowing Minnesota to control the tip.
John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at firstname.lastname@example.org
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