AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
There’s a lot of things to take away from the Orlando Magic’s win against the Denver Nuggets in their regular season home opener, but here are a few that stood out.
Jacque Vaughn won his first game as an NBA head coach. Making his head coaching debut, Vaughn coached a masterful game. The Magic, as a team, look well-prepared on both sides of the ball.
On offense, Orlando generated a lot of points out of a hybrid high-post offense and did so efficiently for the most part. Defensively, the Magic put forth an honest effort and deserve credit for limiting the Nuggets to 89 points on 92 possessions, but Denver didn’t do themselves any favors either. The Nuggets were their own worst enemy — they weren’t aggressive in attacking the rim, they settled for too many jumpshots, they didn’t create enough transition opportunities (partly due to the fact that Orlando took care of the basketball), and they were sloppy on offense (committing silly turnovers and making bad passes).
As a result, the Magic came away with a surprising victory.
For Orlando, the stars of the game were Glen Davis and J.J. Redick.
Firmly entrenched in a starting role for the first time in his career, something that Davis has always wanted, he took full advantage of the opportunity. He was the centerpiece of the Magic’s offense, primarily scoring via midrange jumpers, layups, and hook shots. At the end of the night, Davis finished with 29 points (13-for-25 shooting from the floor), 10 rebounds, and two blocks. With no Dwight Howard around, expect Davis to continue to be a focal point offensively.
As for Redick, he played his usual efficient ballgame (21 points on 11 shots) for Orlando. What was most impressive, though, was his playmaking ability. Even though he’s entering his seventh season in the league, it doesn’t seem as if Redick gets enough credit for his ability to create for himself and others on offense as he did against the Nuggets (six assists). Yes, he’s one of the premiere shooters in the NBA but Redick is a playmaker too. This has been the case for a while now. Maybe this season that’ll become a common description of his skill-set.
With rookie Maurice Harkless still working his way back from sports hernia surgery and fellow rookie DeQuan Jones out with a minor hip strain, Vaughn was forced to play Arron Afflalo a lot at small forward against Denver. That trend will likely continue, given that Hedo Turkoglu broke his left hand during the game against the Nuggets (he’s expected to miss at least four weeks).
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
It’s a tie between Davis and Redick. Both players were standout performers against Denver and the main reasons why the Magic were able to win the game in an “upset.”
Team A had 15 fast break points and 60 points in the paint. Team B had eight fast break points and 36 points in the paint. Can you guess which team won the game?
Midway through the first quarter, Jameer Nelson made a tremendous half-court bounce pass to Redick for a reverse layup in transition (it was goaltended). It was one of many sequences for Orlando that signaled they came ready to play.