The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves by the score of 102-89. This is a game the Magic led from start to finish, with the Timberwolves making the occasional run here and there. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as six players scored in double-figures. Jason Richardson continued his recent stretch of good games in the past few weeks with another good game against Minnesota, finishing with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field in about 23 minutes of playing time. Hedo Turkoglu finished with 14 points, six rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Jameer Nelson contributed with 14 points and six rebounds. J.J. Redick chipped in with 14 points and four rebounds. Ryan Anderson amassed 13 points, five rebounds, and two steals. Struggling to get into a groove offensively for a second straight game while also dealing with foul trouble, Dwight Howard had 11 points and seven rebounds in roughly 28 minutes of playing time. For the Timberwolves, they also were led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Kevin Love was the top man for Minnesota, putting up a game-high 19 points, 15 rebounds, and three steals.
In the first quarter, the Magic jumped out to an early lead against the Timberwolves, with crisp play on offense serving as the catalyst.
Following Anderson’s offensive rebound and putback on Howard’s missed dunk attempt on Orlando’s opening possession of the period, that’s when things got going offensively.
Turkoglu started things off with a three-pointer in the left corner after Richardson dribble penetrated into the lane and executed a drive-and-kick. Turkoglu followed that up with a layup off the dribble. Then Richardson got involved by making a three-point shot on the right wing off the dribble. From there, Turkoglu ran 3/5 pick-and-rolls with Howard, producing a three-pointer in the left corner for Anderson off dribble penetration and a putback dunk for Howard after Turkoglu missed the layup attempt originally on one of the possessions. Howard continued the scoring surge with a lefty hook on the right block in a 4-out/1-in offensive set. And Nelson topped things off with a layup off the dribble along the right baseline. At that point, the Magic were up by the score of 19-10, had firm control of the game, and they never lost control after that. Sure, Minnesota would make things interesting sporadically in the first and second halves but they never seriously threatened Orlando’s lead as it ballooned to as many as 20 points around the midway point of in the third quarter.
Perhaps the two players that impressed the most for the Magic were Richardson and Earl Clark.
For Richardson, he really got cooking on offense in the third quarter during the timeframe when Orlando enjoyed their largest lead of the game. After Richardson made a three-point shot in the right corner to open the period, he did a majority of his damage offensively in screen-and-curls. Whether it was a layup, a floater, or just getting fouled attempting a jumper (and making both free-throws), Richardson could do no wrong in that play type. Richardson’s activity on the defensive side of the ball impressed as well, no better exemplified then by picking off an entry pass by Michael Beasley and sprinting down the court, drawing a foul as he went up for a dunk. Richardson, for the most part, did it on both ends of the floor and that’s always an encouraging sign for the Magic.
For Clark, even though he played in limited minutes, he made a positive impact on the court. Like the Indiana Pacers game, Howard got into foul trouble in the second quarter. And like that game, Clark was rushed into duty during the second quarter as Anderson needed time to rest, thus playing alongside Glen Davis for most of the period. But unlike that game, Clark was dominant not so much on defense but with his energy and effort.
Sure, Clark got those eye-catching blocks — as he did against the Pacers — in the second half. But Clark played with such enthusiasm that his activity level was palpable in the second quarter, scoring eight points on two dunks, a finger roll-ish layup, and a long two in five shot attempts. Likewise, Clark had a one-minute stretch in the opening stages of the period where he was an absolute menace on the glass, fighting with Love for rebounds.
When Clark focuses on the intangibles, rather than the scoring, that’s when he can be a net positive for Orlando.
If Clark wants to know what not to do, he needs to look no further than Davis, who was dreadful against the Timberwolves. In approximately 23 minutes of playing time, Davis scored two points on 1-of-10 shooting from the field, taking numerous ill-advised midrange jumpers. It got to the point that Magic fans not only groaned when Davis attempted a jumpshot, but they collectively booed him as he kept missing shots.
Davis and Clark both had five rebounds for the game. Yet Clark scored eight points and was a +2 because he attacked the rim, while Davis scored two points and was a -9 because he settled for jumpshots.
One can only imagine what head coach Stan Van Gundy is thinking.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.