Playing on a back-to-back, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Dallas Mavericks by the score of 117-107, winning their ninth consecutive game of the regular season — tying a franchise record. It was the Hedo Turkoglu show for the Magic, as he finished the game with 13 points, 17 assists, and five steals. Turkoglu sliced and diced the Mavericks’ defense in the 3/5 pick and roll with Dwight Howard throughout the evening. It was a ruthless display of execution offensively. Howard finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks. Jason Richardson continues to play well offensively, contributing with 20 points on 12 shots. Jameer Nelson and Gilbert Arenas had 16 points and 14 points respectively, while Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson each had 11 points. Had J.J. Redick scored one more point, every player in the rotation would have been in double-figures. As it has been since Orlando began their streak of wins, balance on offense has been the name of the game. The Magic have been dizzying opponents by attacking offensively from a variety of angles, with Turkoglu acting as the maestro of the concerto. For Turkoglu, Dallas was the latest to be victimized by his precise and intuitive passing ability.
Let’s fast-forward to the fourth quarter.
Entering the period, Orlando trailed by one point. For three quarters, the Magic and Mavericks didn’t do much from preventing each other from scoring. As such, there was nothing to suggest that Orlando and Dallas would string together stops on defense and pull away from one another.
But at the 10:24 mark in the fourth quarter, everything changed.
At that juncture, Turkoglu executed a 3/5 pick and roll with Howard and was able to make a jumper plus the foul. Throughout the game, the Mavericks did little to prove they could stop the Turkoglu-Howard pick and roll, which is why head coach Stan Van Gundy made the calculated decision to run that play over and over. Plus, the Magic were able to ratchet things up defensively.
After Turkoglu connected on his jumpshot, on the next possession, he ran another 3/5 pick and roll with Howard. This time, Turkoglu was able to find Anderson open on the wing for a three-pointer. After head coach Rick Carlisle called a timeout, trying to prevent the floodgates from opening, Orlando continued to run the 3/5 pick and roll with Turkoglu and Howard. After Brendan Haywood made a righty hook to cut the Magic’s lead to one point at 88-87, the floodgates opened. Turkoglu ran another 3/5 pick and roll with Howard, this time finding Arenas on the wing for a three-point shot. A few possessions later, Turkoglu executed a 3/5 pick and roll with Howard and was able to make a fallaway jumper. At this point, it’s clear that the synergy in the pick and roll between Turkoglu and Howard is reaching unstoppable levels but they didn’t relent. After Turkoglu was able to find Redick and Arenas in transition for buckets, he ran another 3/5 pick and roll with Howard that effectively put the exclamation point on his performance running Orlando’s offense. Turkoglu slithered into the lane, connecting with Howard for an alley-oop dunk that killed the competitive spirit of Dallas. The Magic continued onward, scoring against the Mavericks in a variety of ways.
When it was all said and done, Orlando went on a 26-3 run — buoyed by the 3/5 pick and roll with Turkoglu and Howard. This was a cold, calculated dismembering of Dallas’ defense.
Credit the Magic for hanging tough when they fell behind by as many as 15 points in the first half. Orlando could have wilted, but they fought and kept at it until they were able to put together a monstrous run in the fourth quarter. The defense was never good throughout the game, but the offense took care of things.
Simply put, the personality of the new-look Magic after playing together for 11 games is eerily similar to the team that went to the NBA Finals in 2009. No matter what, Orlando never gives up when the chips are down. The evolution in mental toughness for the Magic since the blockbuster trades is astounding. But what’s more amazing?
This may seem odd and premature, but Turkoglu has never looked better in Orlando. This is the most talent that Turkoglu has been surrounded with in his Magic tenure, and it’s reflected in his numbers. Turkoglu has been efficient offensively and his passing has been exquisite. Likewise, Orlando has never looked more potent on offense than at any point in the Van Gundy era.
Thank Turkoglu for that.