AP Photo/John Raoux
With Jason Richardson injured (suffered a sprained left ankle against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday) and Hedo Turkoglu suspended (made contact with an official in the same game), other players for the Orlando Magic needed to pick up the slack in their absences if they wanted to beat the Indiana Pacers.
Dwight Howard and J.J. Redick decided to be the guys to do that.
Dwight was dominant throughout the game, particularly on offense where there was no one for the Pacers that could guard him. Roy Hibbert, the player that spent the most time defending Dwight, tried but was outclassed. Dwight didn’t have too much difficulty scoring above, around, and through Hibbert. On the flipside, Hibbert didn’t have too much success scoring on Dwight.
As such, the Pacers were forced to find scoring elsewhere. Unfortunately for Indiana, aside from Paul George and Danny Granger, they found no such luck when the game mattered. Darren Collison had a scoring spurt in the second quarter when he reeled off eight points, as Indiana was cutting into the Magic’s 20-plus point lead, but that was his point total for the entire game. David West, a notorious Magic killer in years past was quiet yet again versus Orlando, scored two points. That was it — Tyler Hansbrough and Dahntay Jones got most or all of their points in garbage time.
How did the Magic get that 20-plus point lead in the first place?
Besides Dwight being Dwight, Redick was absolutely brilliant running the Magic’s offense in the absence of Turkoglu, compiling a career-high nine assists.
In the first quarter, Orlando was able to blitz the Pacers by continuously executing pick-and-rolls with Redick and Dwight. On numerous occasions in the period, the Magic started off in their “horns” set with Ryan Anderson and Dwight at the elbows. Then Redick would get the basketball from Dwight at the left elbow on a hand-off pass and run a pick-and-roll. Multiple times, that play produced either a dunk for Dwight or a midrange jumpshot for Redick. That being said, it can’t be understated how poorly at times Indiana was defending Orlando’s pick-and-roll sets in the period.
Although the Magic didn’t rely too much on pick-and-rolls after the first quarter, instead opting mainly for brute force tactics with Dwight, Redick still had his imprint on the game in other ways. Like his shooting, passing, or movement off the ball.
When Redick was on the court, good things happened for Orlando (his eye-popping plus/minus of +35 is hard to ignore). The same could be said about Dwight. That’s why the Magic won.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Dwight and Redick deserve co-MVP’s after this game. They were the driving forces behind this victory. Their pick-and-roll tactics set the tone early and allowed Orlando to get off to a quick start.
After trailing by as many as 23 points in the second quarter, Indiana cut the Magic’s lead to nine points in the opening stages of the third quarter. Eventually Orlando put the game away.
That Game Was … Impressive
Considering the circumstances, with Richardson injured and Turkoglu suspended, and the fact that the Pacers are a good team, this was an impressive win for the Magic. The final score isn’t indicative of how much of a blowout it was.