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It would be easy to explain away the Orlando Magic’s loss to the Denver Nuggets by using an excuse — Dwight Howard wasn’t playing due to back spasms. But that doesn’t advance the conversation.
There’s many reasons why the Magic lost to the Nuggets and, by extension, have been losing games over the past several days. But there’s one reason that needs to be examined in greater detail.
Hedo Turkoglu not playing very well, not only against the Nuggets but the Mavericks and Knicks, with any sort of consistency — you could argue this has been a problem all season long — is a big reason why Orlando isn’t as good as they probably should be.
No one is expecting Turkoglu to play out of his mind for long stretches of time, like he did in 2008 en route to winning the Most Improved Player award that season. Instead, Magic fans are pining for the 2009 version of Turkoglu, when he was a playmaker for the Magic and not afraid of the big moment. When he was a player that played with loads of confidence.
You don’t see that right now with Turkoglu.
What you’re seeing with Turkoglu is a player that’s playing with, as I like to call it, no swag. No confidence. It comes and goes, but it’s never sustained.
In 2008 and 2009, Turkoglu had an inner belief in his skills and abilities that made him a special player, even if it didn’t jump out at you right away in his numbers.
Right now, Turkoglu is playing with a lot of self-doubt. You can see it in almost every thing he does on the court and the stats are reflecting it.
Turkoglu is not confident in his jumpshot. He’s shooting 32 percent on 1.8 field goal attempts from 16-23 feet (that would be the lowest percentage for him since 2007, which is the farthest back Hoopdata tracks shot location data). Turkoglu is shooting 34.3 percent from three-point range, which would be the worst percentage of his career since his rookie year, back when he was a member of the Sacramento Kings.
Turkoglu is not confident at the free-throw line. His free-throw percentage is 70.3 percent, far below his career average of 78.8 percent.
Turkoglu is not confident with the ball in his hands. His turnover percentage of 20.4 percent is the highest of his career, way higher than his career average of 13.4 percent.
I can go on, but you get the idea.
Whereas Jameer Nelson is finding his confidence again, playing a stellar game against Denver, Turkoglu is still looking for his.
If this trend continues, Orlando is not going to get very far in the playoffs.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Take your pick. A lot of players played well for both teams. Between Ty Lawson (25 points, nine assists, and five rebounds), Aaron Afflalo (22 points, five rebounds) and Nelson (27 points, five assists), there’s no wrong answer.
Despite allowing the Nuggets to shoot 55.6 percent from the floor, the Magic were able to stay in this game by forcing 17 turnovers and snagging 18 offensive rebounds. Glen Davis alone had more offensive rebounds (9) than Denver (7).
That Was … Fun
Despite no Dwight for Orlando (back spasms) and Denver missing a few rotation players due to a variety of injuries, this game still had high entertainment value. It was free-flowing and featured plenty of offense.