Relying on J.J. Redick in crunch time | Magic Basketball

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Apr 09

Relying on J.J. Redick in crunch time

On Saturday, the Orlando Magic got a much-needed victory against the Philadelphia 76ers on the road, winning by the score of 88-82 and snapping a season-high five-game losing streak. And the Magic were able to win the game not only without Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu but with Dwight Howard nursing a bad back.

Needless to say, Orlando has J.J. Redick to thank for the victory. Yes, Dwight and Glen Davis were also instrumental in the win for the Magic, carrying the team in different junctures of the game. But in crunch time, it was Redick that took the role of playmaker in the fourth quarter in place of a struggling Jameer Nelson and an absent Turkoglu.

With the game tied at 73 apiece with 5:24 left in the fourth quarter, Redick scored nine straight points for Orlando in the span of two minutes. That scoring spree allowed the Magic to gain a six-point edge on the Sixers at 82-76 with the game winding down. Orlando would hang on for the victory.

Head coach Stan Van Gundy has said many times that Redick is a player that he can rely on and trust. That’s because Redick plays the right way and makes the right plays.

Against Philadelphia, Redick did just that.

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In crunch time, needing a bucket to build a cushion against Philadelphia, the Magic relied on a play that they had ran with success a few times previously in the game.

Orlando starts out in their “horns” set with Dwight and Davis at the elbows. Nelson passes the basketball to Dwight and this is where the action begins.

Redick, planted in the left corner, curls around the three-point line to receive the ball from Dwight on a handoff pass. Jodie Meeks trails behind Redick. Once Redick gets the basketball, Dwight sets a screen on Meeks at the wing. That’s all the airspace Redick needs, as he puts up a shot at the left elbow and makes the 18-foot jumper.

It’s such a simple play, yet it’s so effective because of Dwight’s ability to set effective screens (one of the most under-appreciated skills in the NBA) and Redick’s ability to shoot the ball with proficiency. In fact, the play was so effective that Orlando ran it again on the next possession and got the same result.

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At this point, head coach Doug Collins makes the decision of taking Andre Iguodala (an elite wing defender and one of the best defenders in the league) off of Jason Richardson and on Redick. If that’s not a sign of respect for Redick’s skills on offense, I’m not sure what is.

In any case, the Magic run a 2/5 pick-and-roll with Redick and Dwight at the top of the key. This is Orlando’s bread-and-butter play, typically ran by Nelson or Turkoglu in crunch time depending on how well they’ve been playing that night. In this instance, it’s Redick that’s playing well offensively so he’s the one that gets his number called by Van Gundy.

Dwight sets a screen on Iguodala, as Elton Brand sags back to account for Dwight on the roll to the basket. That plays into the Magic’s hands. With Redick coming around the screen, Brand sagging back, and Iguodala trailing on the play, Redick has more than enough room to get a clean look at a three-pointer. It should come as no surprise, then, that Redick puts up a three-point shot on the right wing and makes it.

Collins would call a timeout shortly thereafter.

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It’s true that Orlando is in dire need of a dynamic shot creator on the perimeter, but they’re not lacking for playmakers. There’s a difference. Players like Redick can make plays for the Magic, whether it’s in a “horns” set or a pick-and-roll. The Sixers found that out for themselves.

This isn’t new territory for Redick, either. Time and again, he’s been doing this for Orlando this season. Saturday was no different.

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