Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
When you’re a team that holds Tim Duncan to his worst shooting percentage game of his career, odds are you’re going to win the game. And that’s what happened last night, as the Orlando Magic defeated the San Antonio Spurs by the score of 110-84 in front of a nationally-televised audience and a sellout crowd at Amway Arena. With Tony Parker sidelined with a broken hand and the Spurs playing on a back-to-back against a well-rested Magic squad, the last thing San Antonio needed was a career-worst performance from their future Hall of Famer. Needless to say, Orlando took advantage of the circumstance. The Magic were led by Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis, two players that played extremely well on an evening when Dwight Howard had a pedestrian game for his standards. Carter had 24 points and eight assists, while Lewis had 20 points.
For Lewis, it seemed like a good omen when head coach Stan Van Gundy deliberately ran the first offensive set of the game for him and he was able to make a 17-foot jumper along the baseline. It’s no secret that Lewis hasn’t been playing well the past week or so, which is why Van Gundy deserves credit for recognizing that and trying to jumpstart him against the Spurs. The strategy worked.
As for Carter, who had the assist on the aforementioned play involving Lewis, he did the majority of his damage in the first quarter.
[11:44] Lewis 17-foot jump shot (Carter assist)
[11:05] Carter 17-foot fadeaway jump shot
[8:58] Barnes dunk (Carter assist)
[7:53] Carter three-point 26-foot fast break jump shot (Nelson assist)
[6:31] Carter three-point 25-foot jump shot (Williams assist)
[5:30] Carter makes free-throw 1 of 2
[5:30] Carter makes free-throw 2 of 2
[2:44] Carter fast break layup (Barnes assist)
[1:12] Carter three-point 25-foot jump shot (Gortat assist)
[:21.3] Carter makes free-throw 1 of 2
[:21.3] Carter makes free-throw 2 of 2
That’s 16 of Carter’s 24 points.
The majority of Carter’s points in the first quarter came on either isolation plays or spot-up shooting opportunities. No pick and rolls, surprisingly enough. It makes sense, though, when looking at the play-by-play data. Carter was assisted on the majority of his made field-goal attempts. That, more or less, denotes that Carter was in catch-and-shoot situations and converting on them.
What about Howard? What was up with him on offense?
Nothing, really. Orlando executed a plethora of 4-out/1-in offensive sets with Howard throughout the evening and San Antonio elected to double-team him almost every time. So, rather than force the issue on offense, Howard seemed more than content to pass the basketball out of the post when double-teamed. Even though Howard only had two assists the entire night, it was his passing that triggered great ball movement for the Magic and forced the Spurs to scramble on defense. For instance, there were a few times when Matt Barnes would cut to the basket for a layup off a direct dump-off from Howard or on a pass from a different teammate (like Carter or Lewis, for instance) after the basketball swung around the perimeter. In those cases, where the ball was moving after Howard posted up on the low block and kicked it out to the wing, he could have been credited with the “hockey assist” a few times. It was a mature approach from Howard, which is why Orlando won by 26 even though he had nine points. The Magic’s supporting cast stepped up.
On the flipside, yes, Duncan had a bad outing but he had little help in comparison. Manu Ginobili and Richard Jefferson came to play, scoring with efficiency and keeping San Antonio in striking distance during the first half. But the other starters for the Spurs, George Hill and Antonio McDyess, didn’t perform well at all. That was a difference in the game. Hill, in particular, couldn’t create for others or score for himself, leaving the Spurs’ offense in a bind. As such, San Antonio was forced to settle for jumpshots and that didn’t bode well for them when the game mattered.