If there’s one thing that’ll never change for the Orlando Magic under head coach Stan Van Gundy, regardless of the talent on the floor, it’s the coaching. Van Gundy is one of the best coaches in the NBA for many reasons, but one of them is his ability to draw up the perfect play coming out of a timeout. Perhaps Van Gundy’s most infamous play that he drew up came in the 2009 NBA Finals when he was able to create an alley-oop layup opportunity for Courtney Lee out of thin air. Lee missed the layup, yes, but it exemplified Van Gundy’s coaching genius. On Sunday, the Toronto Raptors saw that genius firsthand.
As the Magic propelled themselves to the lead in the fourth quarter thanks to a 20-2 scoring run after trailing by 11 points to begin the period, certain plays were ran to perfection that aided in the surge. One of them is a play called out of a timeout after Orlando began to chip away at their deficit. The score was 89-83 in favor of the Raptors with a little less than six minutes remaining in the game and with Hedo Turkoglu leading the comeback charge, Van Gundy wisely put the basketball in his hands and let him be a playmaker.
What’s fascinating about this particular play is that it’s an amalgamation of certain elements in the Magic’s offensive playbook. Orlando initially sets themselves up in a Horns set, with Turkoglu and Dwight Howard standing at the elbows of the free-throw line. Orlando runs a myriad of play variations in the Horns set. This variation is unique because instead of Ryan Anderson standing at the elbow adjacent to Howard, it’s Turkoglu. And instead of Anderson handing off the ball to a wing player on his half of the court, thus initiating the action on the play, it’s Turkoglu that’s going to run a 3/5 pick-and-roll with Howard.
Playing on New Years Day and ringing in 2012, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Toronto Raptors by the score of 102-96, extending their current winning streak to four games. The Magic played with very little energy for most of the game and trailed by 11 points entering the fourth quarter but they hung in there, grinded it out, and were able to come away with a victory. This is the type of game the 2009 roster would win. Speaking of 2009, Hedo Turkoglu turned back the clock once again, leading the comeback charge for Orlando in the final period and finishing with 15 points (10 in the fourth quarter) and seven assists. It was a stellar outing for Turkoglu and the type of stuff that Magic fans saw with regularity when he guided head coach Stan Van Gundy’s offense in 2008 and 2009. Ryan Anderson finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field (5-of-8 from three-point range) and five rebounds. J.J. Redick was brilliant coming off the bench, contributing with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field (3-of-5 from three-point range), three rebounds, and three assists. Dwight Howard did his usual grunt work with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks.
AP Photo/Reinhold Matay
7-11 FG | 5-9 FT | 15 REB | 3 BLK | 19 PTS | +5
Howard has yet to have a dominant game on offense this season but that’ll come in due time. Van Gundy’s decision to employ Howard in pick-and-rolls in the fourth quarter was a game-changer, as it forced the Toronto Raptors to scramble around to account for the big fella while also covering the Orlando Magic’s shooters on the perimeter. That’s what Howard’s presence allows.
9-16 FG | 5-8 3P | 2 AST | 5 REB | 24 PTS | +16
Anderson will look at the stat-sheet and be happy that he produced yet again in a victory for the Magic. But on the flipside, Andrea Bargnani scored 28 points, with most of that coming against Anderson. When Van Gundy says that Anderson can do more aside from scoring, that’s what he means. Anderson did do a better job of containing Bargnani in the fourth quarter though.
6-10 FG | 3-5 3P | 3 AST | 3 REB | 21 PTS | +26
Single game plus/minus numbers don’t always depict an accurate picture because of their inherent noisiness. That being said, Redick was a game-high +26 and that number couldn’t have been more accurate. For nearly every minute that he was on the floor, something good was happening for Orlando. That’s the beauty of having a high IQ player on the roster.
6-14 FG | 2-5 3P | 7 AST | 2 REB | 15 PTS | +8
It’s still early but Magic fans may need to start dusting off the “Mr. Fourth Quarter” nickname and start using it again. Turkoglu’s fallaway three-pointer, after trying to draw a foul on DeMar DeRozan, was one of the highlights of the game as it gave Orlando a 91-89 lead, which they never relinquished. You can see Turkoglu is playing with confidence right now.
The Raptors should be given credit for playing a well-executed game, thanks to head coach Dwane Casey. One of the keys to Toronto’s loss? Free-throws. The Raptors shot 14-of-14 from the free-throw line in the third quarter to pad a double-digit lead. Toronto only shot four free-throws in the fourth quarter. When the Magic’s defense tightened up, that was all she wrote.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats by the score of 100-79, winning their third consecutive game of the regular season in the process. Despite the absence of Jameer Nelson due to a neck strain, the Magic were able to come away with a victory with relative ease. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard put together another of his 20-20 games, as he finished with 20 points, 24 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks. It didn’t come easy for Howard, however, as he was unable to get into much of a flow offensively, as exemplified by the fact that he shot 7-of-16 from the field and 6-of-14 from the free-throw line. Ryan Anderson continues to shoot the basketball with no regard for human life, as he finished with a game-high 23 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. Jason Richardson had 16 points, while Hedo Turkoglu had 15 points and J.J. Redick had 11 points. It was a solid team effort from the Magic and a win that head coach Stan Van Gundy will surely be pleased with. This game was won by Orlando in large part because of their defense. The Bobcats have never been known as an offensive juggernaut in the NBA, particularly under head coach Paul Silas. Nevertheless, when Charlotte is held to under 80 points, that’s something worth noting.
Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images
7-16 FG | 6-14 FT | 24 REB | 4 BLK | 20 PTS | +18
It speaks to the high standards that Howard sets for himself that the 20-20 game he had against the Charlotte Bobcats was underwhelming. Sure, the big fella lassoing 24 rebounds is impressive but his offense was left to be desired. Howard couldn’t take full advantage of Boris Diaw and DeSagana Diop in the post, and Bismack Biyombo gave him fits in limited minutes.
8-18 FG | 5-12 3P | 2 AST | 8 REB | 23 PTS | +22
Anderson is doing everything possible to show that he isn’t Rashard Lewis but better. Anderson is a better scorer and rebounder but Lewis can still say he’s a better defender for now. Anderson is by no means a liability defensively but if he can continue to improve on the end of the floor, the Magic may have someone that’s more than just a role player.
7-12 FG | 2-4 3P | 1 AST | 3 REB | 16 PTS | +16
Richardson did his job against the Bobcats. He exploited mismatches when he was on the low block, he generated points off the dribble, and he showed off his range from the three-point line. On the flipside, Richardson battled well defensively and made Gerald Henderson work for his points, routinely contesting jumpers. It helps that Richardson had Howard as the last line of defense, of course.
5-11 FG | 3-6 FT | 3 AST | 2 REB | 15 PTS | +21
What’s the saying? Steady as she goes? Like a captain of a cruise ship, Hedo Turkoglu guided the Magic’s offense along and rarely steered it into danger. Turkoglu managed the game effectively, feeding Howard in the post when necessary, carving up Charlotte’s defense with drive-and-kicks off dribble penetration, and calling his own number for fallaway jumpers as he so pleased.
No one for the Bobcats, sans Byron Mullens of all people, really got anything going offensively. With Howard in the paint, Charlotte had to consistently settle for jumpers on the perimeter and that was a losing proposition for them. Rookies Kemba Walker and Biyombo didn’t do much on offense but they were very disruptive defensively. Just ask Larry Hughes and Howard.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “You’ve heard a player say he is coming back as a new man. Sometimes it’s all talk. Chris Duhon is walking the walk. He looks like a different player. More evidence of that was revealed Thursday night, when Duhon was the best point guard on the floor, no matter that all-star Deron Williams was in town. Duhon replaced injured starter Jameer Nelson (neck strain), steadying the Magic with nine points, four assists and just one turnover in 28 minutes. Williams was awful, going 2-of-12 with six turnovers. Depending on how Nelson feels on Friday, Duhon might be starting against the Charlotte Bobcats in the second game of a back-to-back. After last season’s immense struggles, Duhon has looked like a different player, even though the season has offered only a sample size.”
- Some statistical oddities from the Orlando Magic so far in the season.
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy is doing more to be less demonstrative in games.
- Van Gundy on Ryan Anderson: “He’s got to get more and he can still do even more. I think the sky’s the limit for him, and so I’m saying it as a positive. I think he’s a helluva player. But he can do more at the defensive end. He can do more on the boards, and he’s got to make that he challenges himself to do that.”
- The Magic have sold out 100 regular season games in a row.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie on Orlando’s win last night: “It may not have looked that way, because the Magic aren’t all that great, and it probably doesn’t warm you to hear an opinion that leans this way — but you kind of got the sense that Orlando’s supporting cast was really going all out to prove their worth to Dwight Howard on Thursday. Transition play and cuts away from the ball and overall interest in the game on a level often unseen in professional hoops leads me to believe this. I’d watch the game again to double-check, but then I’d be watching a replay of a Nets/Magic game, and nobody should have to deal with that.”
- Plenty of Magic-related news bits on the Weekend Dime.
- Tonight’s matchup between Orlando and the Charlotte Bobcats features a ton of up-and-coming players according to Clint Peterson of Hardwood Paroxysm.
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post sees Chris Duhon in a Derek Fisher-type role this season for the Magic: “All Orlando asks of Duhon is that he reads the defense properly and knocks down an open shot every now and again. That’s what Duhon did against the Nets, drilling three open three-pointers off the catch for nine points on the night. He is, in effect, playing the role Derek Fisher does with the Los Angeles Lakers. It seems to suit him.”
- Another recap, albeit brief, of the Magic’s win against the New Jersey Nets.
- Are there teams in the NBA interested in “rent-a-Dwight?”
- Abe Schwadron of SLAM ONLINE liked Howard’s performance against the Nets.
- Brandon Bass has been fitting in nicely with the Boston Celtics.
- David Thorpe of Scouts Inc. talks about the Magic on HoopSpeak Live.
- Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: ” It’s faulty logic to look at the Nets and shake your head in disbelief that Dwight would want to play for THAT team. That’s not the team Dwight would be playing for; he’d be playing for a Nets team with HIM on it. Big difference. The most interesting aspect of the Dwight saga won’t be where he does and doesn’t want to play, but where the Magic are and aren’t willing to trade him. If Otis Smith and Alex Martins decide they want Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the likelihood that Dwight’s a Laker goes through the roof. If that can’t or won’t happen, can the Nets flip some of their assets for win-now players Orlando would want, i.e., Luis Scola and Kevin Martin from the Rockets, or something similar? Fascinating chess match that Orlando will be playing.”
- Orlando gets an E for effort against New Jersey.
- A list of teams that should be interested in acquiring Howard as a rental.
- Marketing is a reason why Howard-to-Chicago is a near impossibility.
- The Basketball Jones returns on January 3! Bookmark your calendars!
The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the New Jersey Nets by the score of 94-78 in a fairly boring game that featured little drama on the court. Of course, off the court is where most of the interest is at for the Nets right now. Dwight Howard has made it known that New Jersey is one of the teams he’s interested in playing for in 2012 and beyond, listing them among the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks as a possible destination in case he doesn’t re-sign with the Magic. Howard stoked the fires a bit by letting it be known he had dinner on Wednesday with Deron Williams, who currently plays for the Nets. Needless to say, the Howard-to-New Jersey rumors won’t go away anytime soon but let’s get back to the game. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Howard led the charge for the Magic with 16 points, 24 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and three steals. Ryan Anderson had a game-high 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, while Jason Richardson had 16 points and J.J. Redick had 15 points. Hedo Turkoglu filled up the stat-sheet with 11 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. On the flipside, rookie MarShon Brooks impressed for the Nets with 17 points in roughly 21 minutes of playing time.