AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
When Glen Davis is getting easy buckets in the paint, you have to step back and second-guess how good your team is and start to question how bad your opponent is. At least, that was the story in the first half.
For the first 24 minutes, the Nets looked bored and ready to move on to a new dome. It was as if Deron Williams’ stand against Jeremy Lin a few nights ago was the last stand, and now the Nets have moved on, poised to take over Brooklyn.
Want proof? With four minutes left in the first, the game was still close and Dwight went to the bench with his second foul. From there, the Nets allowed a lineup of Duhon-Wafer-Q-Clark-Davis absolutely eat them alive. I’m talking about Q-Rich posting up, swinging it to Duhon who drives to the lane, and dishes to Davis for an and-one finish. Really? That only happens when you’re playing a team that doesn’t care much, or a team who is coming off a blood bath.
At one point in the second quarter, Von Wafer grabbed a defensive rebound and took the ball coast-to-coast for an uncontested dunk. If that doesn’t tell you about how ready the Nets were coming into this one, then you’re not paying attention.
Then the second half happened, and Deron Williams happened. Williams caught fire from deep and made 12 straight for the Nets, taking a big bite out of what was once a 20-point Magic lead.
The Orlando response was crucial. When Williams got hot, the Magic did not panic and start shooting threes and struggle offensively. They buckled down, set up their half-court set, delivered Dwight the ball, and let it pay off. Dwight didn’t go nuts in the post, but it opened up the floor for guys like Redick and Duhon to get good looks from deep. In a word, they responded with Magic basketball — the Dwight system — and re-extended their lead to 18 in the third.
Good time to note that Sheldon Williams did a nice job on Dwight in this game. That’s why the second half of this game was so fun to watch if you were a Magic fan. Even though Dwight wasn’t owning, Orlando kept going to him. He got his touches, and that opened up a much more natural offense for Orlando. Thus, Orlando recovered and kept a 16-point lead headed into the fourth.
If Dwight feels like he is not a closer, than I am not sure what he wants. In the fourth quarter, he got multiple touches and gave himself room to finish a few baby hook shots that helped keep the Nets at bay. Surely it helps to have a big lead going into the final quarter, but it seems as if Dwight in the post is the best minute-eating weapon any team could have to protect a lead in the closing minutes. Magic played that card to perfection to take the win.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Dwight Howard. This was a tough one since Orlando got good production from several guys on the floor, but you can’t deny a 20 and 17 effort from the big man.
Glen Davis. Baby gave Orlando a huge boost in the first half on perfect shooting from the field and led all scoring in the first half. He picked his spots in the second, but I was impressed with his rebounding for a change.
When Deron Williams caught fire in the beginning of the second half, Orlando responded with a few three-pointers and a Dwight slam to re-extend their lead to 16 heading into the fourth.
That Game Was … a Breath of Fresh Air
Orlando shot well from the field, got production from guys like Glen Davis and Chris Duhon, and Dwight got all the touches he needed to be effective. Basically, all cylinders were firing in this win, something akin to 2009.