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5-12 FG | 9-16 FT | 8 BLK | 16 REB | 19 PTS | +9
He’ll never admit it publicly, but Howard has been taking off plays and coasting in games this season on defense. That was never more evident than against the Cleveland Cavaliers, where Howard suddenly played like the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the second half after going half-speed in the first and second quarters. He’s at his best when he’s dominating on the weak-side defensively.
5-14 FG | 2-6 3P | 1 AST | 8 REB | 17 PTS | +14
It says a lot about Anderson’s skill-set at this point that him putting up 17 points and eight rebounds comes as no surprise. He did what he does well. He made three-pointers, he got to the free-throw line, and he attacked the offensive glass (perhaps his most underrated skill). It’s unlikely he’ll get any consideration for the All-Star Game but that’s the level he’s been playing at after 22 games.
7-12 FG | 3-4 3P | 1 AST | 4 REB | 19 PTS | +19
Taking two games off to rest his sore knee did wonders for Richardson. He looked as lively as he’s ever been during the regular season, and it’s no coincidence that he has one of his best games so far this season. His greatest asset is his three-point shooting and when that shot is falling, as it did against the Cavaliers, he makes a positive impact for the Magic.
7-12 FG | 2-5 3P | 4 AST | 7 REB | 18 PTS | +12
Turkoglu had that patented step-back jumper going for him all night against Cleveland. In that regard, Turkoglu’s game is very predictable because you know what he’s going to do with the basketball in his hands. He likes to that take dribble to his left, then fire away. He also got things going in 3/5 pick-and-roll sets with Howard in crunch time. Also very predictable.
For three quarters, the Cavaliers couldn’t do much of anything. With Howard patrolling the paint, it made it especially difficult for Cleveland to attack the rim with any consistent success. For the game, the Cavaliers went 18-of-39 at the rim (46.2 percent). But Ramon Sessions and Alonzo Gee caught fire for Cleveland in the fourth quarter and made things interesting at the end.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.