The Orlando Magic gave one of their best defensive efforts of the season . The Magic allowed just 27 points on 10-of-44 shooting during the middle two periods. Orlando outscored the Kings by 27 during those two quarters sending the fans in attendance home early. Dwight Howard led the Magic to the 100-84 victory with 19 points, 15 rebounds, 2 blocks and 3 steals.
Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy was happy with Orlando’s effort.
“I thought our energy and intensity were tremendous. Did not have a very good offensive game but were able to dominate the game because our defense, particularly in the middle two quarters, was outstanding.”
The Magic got off to a very sloppy start. They turned the ball over four times in the first 3:38 of the game and quickly fell behind 5-0. Dwight Howard didn’t get his first touch until the 6:39 mark when he got a layup off of a Jameer Nelson assist. J.J. Redick checked in at the 4:03 mark and made a three-point play and a three-pointer on the first two possessions. Redick finish the quarter with eight points. The quarter ended with Kevin Martin scoring the final three points to cut Orlando’s lead to 23-22 at the end of one. The Magic were 7-of-20 from the field while the Kings were 7-of-19.
Orlando completely dominated the second quarter. They started on a 10-0 run and never looked back. The Kings shot just 4-of-25 from the field, 0-of-3 from downtown and 2-of-6 from the free throw line . The Kings were outrebounded 20-9 in the quarter and turned the ball over eight times. At halftime, Kevin Martin and Tyreke Evans had combined for just 11 points on 3-of-13.
The third quarter got off to the same kind of start as the second quarter did. Actually, it was a point better. Orlando’s five starters started the third quarter and scored the first 11 points of the period, building Orlando’s lead to 61-32. Orlando continued to dominate the quarter, eventually pushing the lad to 32 at 77-45. The Kings scored 17 third quarter points on 6-of-19 shooting. The Magic shot 9-of-20 but made 10 free throws in the period and had a 77-49 lead heading into the final period.
The Magic emptied the bench in the final quarter – both Brandon Bass and Anthony Johnson, who frequently receive DNPs, played over six minutes. The Kings shot 14-of-32 and scored 35 points during garbage time in the period to make the score look a little respectable.
Orlando’s defense was simply fantastic. Although the Kings have now lost 12 of their last 12 games and are 12 games under .500, they are a solid offensive team that came in scoring 102.3 points per game. Under Head Coach Paul Westphal, they are earning a reputation as a team that plays very hard, but they could not match Orlando‘s effort and intensity on Friday night.
The Magic’s final defensive numbers were hurt by Sacramento’s scoring barrage in garbage time, but they still were very good. The Kings shot an effective field goal percentage of just 35.4% and made just one-third of their shots. They missed nine free throws and turned the ball over 17 times.
The Magic did an excellent job defending Sacramento’s guards. Orlando’s biggest worry entering the game was how they were going to stop Sacramento’s backcourt of Tyreke Evans and Kevin Martin, who score over 45 points per game. The two combined for 24 points on 7-of-22 shooting. Martin made just one of those field goals. The much maligned Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter each gave what was probably their best defensive effort of the season. Van Gundy talked about Carter’s performance after the game.
“I thought Vince played really well. We had to take him out at the end of the first half for fouls and obviously he didn’t play the fourth quarter so he didn’t get a lot of minutes. Had we really needed to go to him tonight, his whole disposition and the way he played – defensively, he was the best he’s been. Even when he played Martin, he was right with him. His disposition, his energy level, his intensity. Offensively, he made good decisions. I thought he was really good tonight.”
One particular play that stood out came in the opening quarter. Martin saw Carter on him and looked like he planned to blow right by him. Carter prepared himself, took a step back and was able to knock the ball away from Martin. It was a heady, veteran move by Carter. He also drove to the basket and was more aggressive tonight. Carter still has a ways to go, but he showed some good signs Friday night, especially on the defensive end.
Jameer Nelson also got into the paint and managed to dish out 7 assists while turning the ball over just once.
Orlando’s defense did a very good job on closing on open shooters and forced Sacramento to take tough shots all night long. Van Gundy likes the way his defense has played as of late.
“I thought from an individual standpoint, our disposition has been better. You know, be right with people, not give them anything easy. Then I think our help was very very good for most of the game. There were times it broke down, but for the most part, I thought our help was good. Even when guys got by us and into the paint, they were forced to take very tough shots.”
Van Gundy mentioned that Sacramento came in ranked third in the league in points in the paint at 46 per game, but had just 8 points in the paint at halftime.
Of course, that has a lot to do with the way Dwight Howard dominated the paint. The King were very hesitant to even attempt to drive the ball to the basket against Howard and when they did, they usually paid for it. Howard blocked 2 shots, altered several others and came down with 13 defensive rebounds.
Howard’s defense is almost always excellent. Offensively, he managed to score 19 points, but the story of the night was the way he shot free throws. Howard hit his first 10 attempts and finished the game and finished 11-of-12 on the game. Van Gundy would like to see Howard shoot like that more often.
“Fantastic. He made his first 10, 11-of-12. Outstanding, outstanding. The other night, he wasn’t nearly as good but he was pretty good so he’s made 27 out of 36. Boy, if he could stay in that 70-75% range, the defense on him changes.”
Orlando’s scoring came from all over. All 12 players played and only Anthony Johnson was held scoreless. Rashard Lewis scored 15 points, J.J. Redick had 15 and Vince Carter had 11.
- Orlando wound up outrebounding the Kings by just 3 but had a 14-rebound advantage at the half and a 13-board advantage after three quarters.
- Orlando shot a season-high 87.9% at the free throw line.
- Orlandos 43 defensive rebounds were a season high.
- Sacramento’s 10-point second quarter was the second time they’ve held Sacramento to just 10 points in a quarter this season (the fourth quarter on January 12th).
- Van Gundy pointed out that Orlando’s 23 turnovers were a point of concern.
- The officials did a good job of fixing two blown calls. They tried to give continuation on a play where the player who was fouled passed the ball, but they met and changed their call. They also waived off a Donte Greene three-pointer in the first quarter after reviewing it during a stoppage of play, saying that the shot clock had expired.
Next Up: Orlando must play again on Saturday night, this time against the red-hot Bobcats in Charlotte.
Final Thought: Orlando needs to play with this kind of effort and intensity every night.