When the entire team makes a commitment to moving the ball and playing unselfishly, Orlando can succeed even without starting point guard Jameer Nelson, as it did Friday. Nelson sat out with a neck stinger suffered on Thursday, leaving Chris Duhon to start in his place. Duhon played an unspectacular 32 minutes–two points on 1-of-1 shooting, two rebounds, six assists, three turnovers–but Orlando didn’t ask him to do a helluva lot. He and backup Larry Hughes sometimes struggled with the backcourt pressure the Bobcats applied, coming close to eight-second violations on several occasions. And Hughes’ handle is far from sharp, though his line-drive of a jumper is in midseason form.
It was simply the Magic putting the Bobcats on the defensive offensively thanks to Howard and his work. Howard scored 20 points, but impressively added another 24 rebounds after a 24-rebound performance Thursday against the Nets. Most encouragingly, Charlotte got to the line only 18 times and rarely ventured into the paint. Even with 12 offensive rebounds, the Bobcats never became a factor and never could cut much into Orlando’s lead.
The Magic for the 3rd straight game have started the night by going to Hedo and Jason Richardson in the post. It’s important to get those guys involved early to keep them fully engaged and involved in the offense. Hedo had 15 points tonight and J-Rich had 16. Both maintained aggression throughout the night.
In its last contest before the New Year, Orlando brought tremendous energy and effort, Dwight Howard dominated on both ends of the court and the Magic earned their third straight victory.
It was a triumph that Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy referred to as their “best win yet.”
Charlotte struggled to contain Howard all night as he recorded 24 rebounds for the second straight matchup, to go along with 20 points and four blocks.
The Bobcats had to pay so much attention to him with double- and triple-teams that Howard’s teammates found open shots all game. Howard was such a threat that he had four assists.
“Having Dwight on your team is probably the easiest wide-open shots you’ll get because he sucks the defense in so much and he’s been doing a great job of passing on target to us,” power forward Ryan Anderson said.
“All we have to do is make shots.”
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)
Tags: Bismack Biyombo Boris Diaw Charlotte Bobcats Chris Duhon Corey Maggette D.J. Augustin D.J. White Dwight Howard Gerald Henderson Glen Davis Hedo Turkoglu J.j. Redick Jameer Nelson Jason Richardson Kemba Walker Larry Hughes Orlando Magic Quentin Richardson Ryan Anderson