The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the New Jersey Nets by the score of 94-78 in a fairly boring game that featured little drama on the court. Of course, off the court is where most of the interest is at for the Nets right now. Dwight Howard has made it known that New Jersey is one of the teams he’s interested in playing for in 2012 and beyond, listing them among the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks as a possible destination in case he doesn’t re-sign with the Magic. Howard stoked the fires a bit by letting it be known he had dinner on Wednesday with Deron Williams, who currently plays for the Nets. Needless to say, the Howard-to-New Jersey rumors won’t go away anytime soon but let’s get back to the game. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Howard led the charge for the Magic with 16 points, 24 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and three steals. Ryan Anderson had a game-high 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, while Jason Richardson had 16 points and J.J. Redick had 15 points. Hedo Turkoglu filled up the stat-sheet with 11 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. On the flipside, rookie MarShon Brooks impressed for the Nets with 17 points in roughly 21 minutes of playing time.
On paper, this was a one-sided matchup and that’s what transpired on the floor as New Jersey had little chance against Orlando.
Without Brook Lopez, the Nets had no one to rely on offensively except for Williams and Brooks. And Williams didn’t have the best of nights, as he finished with 10 points on 2-of-12 shooting from the field including six turnovers. Not much went right for Williams, which means the Nets had to rely on Brooks to provide a scoring punch. It’s safe to say that’s not what head coach Avery Johnson had in mind when he was developing his gameplan before facing off against the Magic.
With New Jersey struggling to score throughout the night, Orlando didn’t have to do anything crazy to come away with the victory.
Richardson woke up from his slumber on offense after two bad games, getting off to a quick start in the first quarter. Richardson scored 12 points and did it with ease, as he was able to attack the rim with little resistance. For the Nets, you know you’re a bad defense when you’re allowing that to happen.
Howard was ho-hum on offense but he was stellar on defense, disrupting New Jersey’s flow offensively (which isn’t hard) while blocking shots — just ask Mehmet Okur — and gobbling up rebounds. In fact, Howard almost had as many rebounds (24) as New Jersey had field goals made (29). The lone blip for Howard is that he continues to struggle at the free-throw line, shooting 2-of-9 against the Nets. It’s still early but Howard’s new-look shooting form at the charity stripe has been downright awful to watch at times. Some of Howard’s misses when he’s been shooting free-throws have been bad. That’s something to keep an eye out for as the season progresses.
Turkoglu didn’t shoot well but he navigated the Magic’s offense effectively, particularly in pick-and-rolls. It was a workmanlike game for Turkoglu, doing the things that needed to be done offensively to help Orlando win.
Anderson continues to score in bunches for the Magic and if it hasn’t become clear that he should remain the starter at power forward, the first three games should provide enough proof that he deserves the extended minutes. Anderson has been able to score with little difficulty, with New Jersey being the latest team to find that out. The lone negative was that he had only three rebounds against the Nets.
Redick played smart, efficient basketball on offense, scoring in a variety of ways. Redick did a nice job of attacking the basket off the dribble, spotting up from the perimeter, and even getting out on the fast break and converting some layups.
If there’s a player that really deserves kudos, it’s Chris Duhon. Yes, it was New Jersey but Duhon played well, especially on offense where he showed no hesitation to hoist up three-pointers when he was wide open. It sounds silly to praise a player for doing something so basic but considering Duhon was allergic to shooting the ball last season, even when no defender was near him, that type of progress should be recognized. Duhon brings it defensively, more often than not, and it was more of the same against the Nets, as he was very disruptive against their ball-handlers. But Duhon’s aggressiveness on offense was a pleasant surprise and it appears he’s trying to stay true to his word with that mentality.