Despite having Dwight Howard deal with foul trouble for three quarters, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Sacramento Kings by the score of 104-97 to kick off a three-game West Coast road trip. Howard picked up four fouls in the first three quarters, which forced him to sit on the bench and watch as the Magic battled against the Kings without him for a majority of the game. As a result, Howard’s stat-line wasn’t impressive at all — five points, four rebounds, and one block. However, Orlando got solid contributions from other players and it was enough to overcome a forgettable night for Howard. Five players scored in double-figures for the Magic, with Jason Richardson leading the charge. Richardson finished with 22 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Glen Davis had his best game with Orlando yet, putting up 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and eight rebounds. Ryan Anderson had 19 points, 11 rebounds, and four steals, as he was able to put together a good game in his hometown in front of family and friends. Von Wafer chipped in with 12 points off the bench. Hedo Turkoglu had 11 points. For the Magic fans that are curious what the team may look like without Howard in the advent that he leaves, they got a good look in this game.
It took Howard no more than two minutes in the first quarter to pick up two quick fouls, which forced him to sit on the bench for the remainder of the half. DeMarcus Cousins was the culprit for drawing the two quick fouls on Howard.
As a result, given that he’s the back-up center on the roster, Davis got a lot of burn in the first and second quarters and he took advantage of the opportunity. Davis attacked the glass to start things off for himself, as his first two baskets came off of offensive rebounds. From there, Davis ventured out to the perimeter and was able to generate some buckets from midrange. Davis had 10 points in the opening period and even though he slowed down in the second quarter, as he struggled to contain Cousins in the post at times, his impact was palpable. The Magic needed a lift off the bench while Howard was out for practically the entire first half, and Davis was able to step up.
Wafer was also a pleasant surprising coming off the bench for Orlando. Head coach Stan Van Gundy made the decision to grant Wafer some playing time and he was rewarded for it. In the second quarter, Wafer was able to knock down a few jumpers on the perimeter and contribute to the cause. On one possession, Wafer showed off an incredible first step off the dribble, attacking the rim and drawing the foul, something that’s rarely seen from the Magic’s perimeter players. It would behoove people to overreact from one game, given that Wafer does have a track record in the NBA (and it isn’t a good one), but he did provide a spark for Orlando on offense when they needed it. There’s no denying that.
Perhaps the player that did the most good in the first half for the Magic as they went back and forth with the Kings was Richardson. For whatever reason, Richardson finally showed life offensively and was able to get things going for himself in a variety of ways. However, one way in which Richardson had an impact on offense was off the dribble. Richardson made several layups in the first half and that, quite frankly, is rarely seen from him.
In the third quarter, as Howard continued to deal with foul trouble, Orlando was carried by Richardson, Davis, and Anderson.
Davis, in particular, was impressive on both ends of the floor. Not only did Davis score but he did the little things. For example, on one possession in the period, Davis made a nice entry pass to Anderson in the post. From there, Anderson was able to draw a foul on his layup attempt. Davis didn’t mind getting down and dirty on defense either, as he was able to draw a charge on J.J. Hickson as he tried to attack the basket. The most important thing for Davis, however, was that he wasn’t forcing anything. Especially offensively, where he didn’t extend his range too much on his jumpshot. One of the biggest problems that Davis has is that he attempts perimeter jumpers beyond his range. Yet that was never a problem in this game for Davis. For the most part, Davis kept his range within 18 feet and it’s no coincidence he had an efficient outing.
As for Anderson, his jumpshot was off in the first half but he came alive in the third quarter, as he was able to get in the paint and draw fouls, allowing him to get to the free-throw line and generate points that way.
In the fourth quarter, execution and a little bit of luck helped the Magic come away with a victory with the game in the balance. Sacramento was down by the score of 90-89 after John Salmons made a layup off the dribble. However, on the very next possession, Turkoglu — who else? — was able to make a fallaway three-pointer off the backboard to beat the shot clock to put Orlando up four. That was a blow for the Kings, as they played outstanding defense on that possession and didn’t allow the Magic to get a good look offensively. However, as has been in the case many times, Turkoglu bailed out Orlando. From there, Howard made two free-throws after he got fouled on a shot attempt in the lane, which extended the Magic’s lead to six points. Tyreke Evans came back with an and-one layup, which put the Kings’ deficit back to three points. From there, Orlando shut the door. Nelson was able to make a layup in a 1/5 pick-and-roll with Howard. Then on the next possession, Nelson ran another 1/5 pick-and-roll with Howard, dribble penetrated into the lane, kicked it out to Richardson on the wing, with the ball swinging to Anderson for a wide-open three-point shot. Anderson made it, the Magic were up by eight points, and that was all she wrote.
Orlando was lucky that they were able to play Sacramento with Howard dealing with foul trouble. Had it been a better team than the Kings, the Magic would have certainly lost. For Howard, ticky-tack fouls were the culprit and he expressed his disagreement with the calls levied against him, as he picked up his first technical foul of the season in the third quarter. Howard deserved the tech but he had every right to complain. Cousins, too, for that matter. Neither Howard nor Cousins were allowed to really play out there, which is a shame. Especially for Cousins, as he played extremely well when he was on the court.
It was a good win for Orlando, considering the circumstances.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.