Photo by Fernando Medina
The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Golden State Warriors by the score of 110-90 and extend their winning streak to six games. The highlight of the evening was Hedo Turkoglu‘s triple-double — 10 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists, and five steals (for good measure). If there was any doubt before that Turkoglu could regain his playing form from 2009 when he helped guide the Magic to the NBA Finals, all of the doubts are out the window after his recent performance. Yes, the Warriors entered the game ranked 28th in defensive efficiency, but a triple-double is still impressive and there’s no question that Turkoglu has been playing in a similar manner since he was traded to Orlando. All in all, the Magic were led by a balanced attack as eight players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard had 22 points, 17 rebounds, and two steals. Jason Richardson continues to find his groove with Orlando, finishing with 20 points and five rebounds. J.J. Redick and Ryan Anderson each had 13 points, while Jameer Nelson and Gilbert Arenas each had 11 points, and Brandon Bass chipped in with 10 points. The first half was an abomination for the Magic, as their effort and energy wasn’t there. However, in the second half, Orlando was able to kick things up a notch and turn a double-digit deficit into a 20-point victory. The irony is that the Miami Heat, Golden State’s previous opponent, accomplished a similar feat on Saturday.
The Magic’s defense in the first half was dreadful. For whatever reason, the players for Orlando were a step late with everything defensively. The rotations were slow or nonexistent, pick and roll coverage wasn’t very good, and the transition defense wasn’t any better. The Warriors were able to build up a lead of nine points by halftime, not so much because of what they were doing but more so due to what the Magic weren’t doing on the defensive side of the ball. Orlando made things too easy for Golden State and it was clear an adjustment would need to be made at the half if they wanted to win the game.
Luckily for the Magic, head coach Stan Van Gundy is one of the best coaches in the league at making half-time adjustments.
Granted, all Van Gundy had to do was coerce more desire on defense.
In the third quarter, Orlando tightened up defensively and by being able to get out in transition off of missed shots and turnovers, a deficit turned into a lead in a matter of minutes. Once the Magic were in control of the game, they didn’t let up in the fourth quarter but instead they buried the Warriors.
Orlando made 12 threes in the third and fourth quarters. Some of them came after Howard would be double-teamed in 3-out/2-in offensive sets. Because the Warriors had little size to defend Howard, they were forced to send an extra defender or two at him nearly all the time. As such, Howard was patience enough to kick the ball out to the perimeter and allow a Magic player to get a look at a three-pointer. When that wasn’t happening, Orlando was also able to get threes in transition or off kick-outs in 3/5 pick and rolls with Turkoglu and Howard. For example, twice in the fourth quarter, Turkoglu was able to find Anderson at the wing for three-pointers.
Needless to say, the Magic’s shooting was a big reason for the win.
As for Turkoglu, he had a complete game.
Turkoglu’s defense on Dorell Wright was left to be desired, though he clamped down on him in the second half at the behest of Van Gundy. And Turkoglu didn’t have a good shooting night, only going 3-of-9 from the field. But the number that stands out the most, more so than the 14 rebounds, were the 10 assists.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that Turkoglu isn’t missing a beat as the point forward in Orlando’s offense. It’s amazing to consider that Turkoglu hasn’t been involved in the Magic’s schemes offensively for nearly a year and a half, yet it seems like he never left. Turkoglu’s chemistry with Howard in the pick and roll is a sight to behold, and he’s doing a great job of distributing the basketball to his teammates and putting them in positions to make plays. It may seem harsh, but this isn’t a performance that Vince Carter — his replacement at the time — was capable of when he was with Orlando. Maybe Carter is at a disadvantage because he didn’t have the benefit of playing with Howard and others for five seasons. Still, there was never a sense that Carter could put together a game like this even after taking into account the chemistry advantage that Turkoglu has over him. Carter looked to score.
Turkoglu looks to make plays for himself and others.
The difference is night and day.