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8-15 FG | 2-4 FT | 1 BLK | 18 REB | 18 PTS | 0
With no Jason Collins around to try and slow him down, Howard had his way with Zaza Pachulia. Granted, Pachulia was able to frustrate Howard a bit in the third quarter by drawing an offensive foul, which coerced a technical foul out of the big fella for complaining about the call. But when Howard got the ball in 4-out/1-in offensive sets, he had little trouble scoring against Pachulia.
8-13 FG | 2-4 3P | 1 AST | 9 REB | 21 PTS | -2
When the offense for the Orlando Magic bogged down in the third quarter, Anderson decided to take matters into his own hands in the opening stretches of the fourth quarter. With the Magic needing a spark offensively, Anderson gave them one by taking over and scoring 12 points in the period. Even though Orlando lost, the comeback wasn’t possible without Anderson.
5-10 FG | 3-6 3P | 2 BLK | 5 REB | 14 PTS | -6
Excluding the Miami Heat game, Richardson has put together a solid stretch of games recently. And it wasn’t so much him doing anything special on offense against the Atlanta Hawks because he was nothing more than ordinary on that side of the ball. Instead, it was Richardson’s work defensively against Joe Johnson that was most impressive. A surprise, given how things went down in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
7-20 FG | 1-6 3P | 5 AST | 3 REB | 15 PTS | +6
Nelson may have scored 15 points but it took him 20 shots to do it. Inefficiency offensively is never a good thing. That being said, like Anderson, Nelson was critical in the Magic’s comeback bid. It was his ability to take Jeff Teague off the dribble at will on offense late in the fourth quarter that gave Orlando a chance at a win, even though they came up short.
For all the talk about Josh Smith being an All-Star snub, people are conveniently ignoring that he’s putting up a career-worst True Shooting percentage of 49.5 percent this season. For as amazing of a talent Smith is, particularly on the defensive end, he continuously hurts the Hawks offensively with his questionable shot selection. It almost cost Atlanta the game in the fourth quarter.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.