AP Photo/Michael Perez
The Orlando Magic aren’t going to win a championship this season. That much is certain.
But amidst all the turmoil, all the drama, and all the BS (as head coach Stan Van Gundy would like to say), the Magic are a good team and capable of doing good things together. Orlando’s win on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers, with no Ryan Anderson (sprained ankle), no Hedo Turkoglu (facial fracture), and Dwight Howard playing through a bad back, is the latest example of that.
Yes, the Sixers are mired in a funk of their own. This isn’t the same Philadelphia team that raced out to a 20-9 start to the regular season. The Sixers are struggling. But in case you haven’t noticed, the Magic have dealt with their own problems all season long. Considering the circumstances, Orlando could have easily folded against Philadelphia and no one would have been surprised.
That’s precisely what happened for the Magic against the New York Knicks on Thursday. Orlando didn’t compete in that game.
The Magic competed against the Sixers. As such, Orlando won the game.
Three players stood out for the Magic — Dwight, J.J. Redick, and Glen Davis.
Let’s start with Dwight. Forget about all his off-court issues for a moment. With a bad back that was clearly bothering him throughout the game, against Philadelphia, Dwight went out and put up 20 points, 22 rebounds, six assists, and two steals. That was his ninth 20-20 game of the season and the 41st of his career. It’s safe to say that this was one of his more gutsier 20-20 performances.
There were times when Dwight just didn’t look good out there, especially on offense. This isn’t to discredit Elton Brand’s defense on Dwight, which was quite good at times (and lends credence to the notion that Brand is one of the most underrated defenders in the NBA). That said, Dwight left a lot of points out there, as he went 4-for-14 from the floor. There were a few instances where he missed badly on hook shots that he routinely makes.
But overall, Dwight gutted it out, shot a decent percentage from the free-throw line (12-for-18 at 66.7 percent) to make up for his lack of productivity in the post, and did his job defensively — both rebounding the ball, protecting the rim, and keeping the Sixers out of the paint when he was on the floor.
As for Davis, for a player that’s had to deal with his own set of issues on and off the court this season, it must be gratifying for him to make a positive impact for Orlando right now. In the absence of Anderson, Davis once again played well, particularly on offense where he made his presence felt the most. As hard as it is to believe it, there was no one for Philadelphia that could stop Davis from doing whatever he wanted offensively. That is, when Davis was doing the right things on offense.
There were times when Davis’ love for the long two got the better of him and he bailed out the Sixers on possessions when he chucked up a shot outside of his range, which is anything beyond the elbows. But when Davis wasn’t preoccupied trying to be a jumpshooter, he was nimble on the low block, he attacked the offensive glass, and he got to the free-throw line. Even though 21 field goal attempts (which produced a game-high 23 points) is normally way too many for Davis, the Magic needed it all against Philadelphia.
Lastly, Redick shut the door on the Sixers in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the period. This will be broken down further in a post for Monday, but Philadelphia was forced to assign Andre Iguodala on Redick — one of the best defenders in the league — as the game was winding down. For Redick, that’s the ultimate sign of respect.
All in all, it wasn’t just a good win for Orlando, it was a professional one.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Dwight, Davis, and Redick each deserve the recognition. They were the catalysts for the Magic’s victory and without their contributions, the Sixers would have won the game with relative ease. There’s no question about that.
How about Davis’ third quarter? With Orlando needing a lift from someone, Davis was more than happy to oblige. He scored 15 of his 23 points in the third quarter, imposing his will offensively against Philadelphia.
The Magic’s bench, excluding Chris Duhon, didn’t do the team any favors against the Sixers. Earl Clark and Von Wafer were flat out terrible. As such, Van Gundy was forced to rely on the starters a lot.
That Was … Much-Needed
Considering everything that’s been happening with Orlando the past few days, they were in desperate need of a win. The Magic are a game back of the Indiana Pacers for the No. 3 seed in the East.