AP Photo/Reinhold Matay
It’s no secret that Dwight Howard would be best paired with a star point guard like Chris Paul or Deron Williams, whether it’s with the Orlando Magic or another team. When you talk about Dwight’s biggest flaw as a player, the inability to rely on him consistently in crunch time because of his inept free-throw shooting, Paul or Williams would — in theory — fix the problem. It’s why people, not just Magic fans, have been pining to see Dwight team up with Paul or Williams for several years now. Not to mention the fact that Dwight and Paul or Williams would be lethal in pick-and-rolls together and so on and so forth.
But pairing Dwight with an excellent stretch-four like Ryan Anderson is not so bad either. The Phoenix Suns found out the hard way.
Throughout the game, the Suns had trouble containing Dwight and Anderson. As such, Dwight went off for 28 points, 16 rebounds, and two blocks while Anderson scorched Phoenix with a game-high 29 points, tying a career-high with seven three-pointers.
For Dwight, defended primarily by Marcin Gortat, he had everything going for him in the post. When he wasn’t getting fouled, Dwight was fluid and patient with his post moves, his hooks (especially the lefty hook) were falling on either side of the block, and there was nothing Gortat could do to stop him. For Gortat, it was not for a lack of trying. It’s just that when Dwight is in a rhythm, in a groove, and getting to his spots on the floor, there’s not a lot that guys like Gortat can do. That’s how good Dwight can be.
For Anderson, the three-point shot doesn’t define how good he is as a player because he’s much more than just a shooter, but it’s certainly a strong barometer of success for him. In this case, Anderson had a wildly successful game because he made seven three-pointers, which accounted for 21 of his 29 points. For whatever reason, probably because the Suns are a below-average defensive team (ranked 20th in Defensive Rating), Anderson kept finding himself open in pick-and-pops or by spotting up on the perimeter.
And when Anderson wasn’t occasionally wide open for three-point shots, he was getting fouled attempting a three-pointer. It happened twice in the game.
If it wasn’t for a dunk and a layup in the fourth quarter, all of Anderson’s points would have came from three-point shots, whether directly or indirectly. Apparently, Phoenix didn’t get the memo on Anderson’s scouting report.
It’s understandable for Dwight to dominate, nay, destroy Gortat because he’s a great player. It’s a little harder to understand how Anderson could dominate just as much versus the Suns, given that it’s easier to account for him defensively.
But then again, Anderson is that good. He’s proven it countless times this season for the Magic. Phoenix was the latest to find out.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Dwight. In Gortat’s first game back in Orlando since being traded to the Suns in 2010, he was greeted rudely by Dwight, who destroyed Gortat in the post for 28 points and 16 rebounds.
Ryan Anderson’s three-point shooting. Players for the Suns continuously lost track of Anderson in pick-and-pops or when he was spotting up on the perimeter. Anderson made Phoenix pay, tying a career-high with seven threes.
That Game Was … a Laugher
With Dwight dominating on the low block and Anderson shooting the lights out from the outside, the Suns didn’t stand a chance against Orlando. As the game went on, the less competitive things got.