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Magic Overcome Poor Defensive Effort to Steal a Win Against Canada

2012 January 1
by Brian Serra

It took Orlando 3 quarters to summon an elite level effort, but they finally found their mojo in the 4th quarter and were able to come from behind to defeat the Toronto Raptors 102-96. Toronto was up by as many as 16 with 7 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, but it was a 16-point run by Orlando that change the game.

A Hedo Turkoglu driving layup with 7:28 to play in the 4th started the big Magic run. The run also included 3-pointers from Ryan Anderson (2), J.J. Redick and Turkoglu and spanned almost 5 minutes of game play in the 4th.

This sort of comeback seems unimportant when you consider the opponent, but words from Dwight Howard after the game speak differently.

Ryan Anderson led the Magic in scoring for the 3rd consecutive game with 23 points.  J.J. Redick had 21 points off the bench and Dwight Howard had 19 points and 15 rebounds.

Orlando started the game with 3-15 shooting and played even worse defense. Jose Calderon put on a pick-and-roll clinic through the first 3 quarters of the game and Andrea Bargnani pump faked the Magic off their feet at an absurd rate. Calderon finished the game with 18 points and 13 assists but only 2 points and 2 assists came in the 4th. Bargnani put up a 28 point effort but only managed 3 points in the 4th quarter.

Andrea Bargnani on tonight’s collapse, “It wasn’t physical. It was more mental. We had energy. It was just that our focus in the fourth quarter was not as it was in the first three. We played a great three quarters but we have to learn how to close out the game.”

27-25-29-15. Those were the points allowed tonight by quarter for Orlando. Stan said after the game that he didn’t think it was a physical fatigue but rather an emotional one. Pointing to the fact that obviously if you’re tired, you will still be that way come the 4th quarter.

Another unsung story of the 4th quarter was Orlando’s ability to keep Toronto off the free throw line, which they had struggled to do earlier in the night. The Raptors shot 14 free throw attempts in the 3rd quarter alone and 25 through 3 quarters. In the 4th, only 4 attempts.

When you play better defense, which the Magic clearly did in the 4th, you keep yourself in better position which in turn keeps you from committing bad fouls. That extra half step is the difference between a FREE throw and a contested shot. It’s the little things!

Notes, news and tidbits from tonight’s game:

  • It seems like forever ago, but it was only 20 months ago that the Hedo Turkoglu Toronto Raptor Experiment ended. Turk, who is finally looking like his pre-Raptor self again, had a huge 4th quarter scoring 10 points and played the final 9:42 with 5 fouls.
  • Jameer Nelson was back in the lineup tonight after missing the previous game with neck spasms. In 32 minutes of action, he managed just 9 points and 4 assists. After a big first game against OKC, Jameer has struggled mightily creating for himself and his teammates.
  • Dwight was his usual consistent self, but struggled tonight in getting himself into position in the post. Much of that can be attributed to the strong defense played by Amir Johnson and Jamaal Magloire. Bargnani hit the nail on the head in a comment on containing Howard, “Amir and Jamaal did an unbelievable job the whole night. They really worked. It doesn’t show in the stats, but they were great down there tonight and bothered Dwight. It is probably the toughest job in the NBA.”
  • J.J. Redick continued his outstanding play so far this season and continues to get the minutes in crunch time. I feel like a broken record, but the little things that J.J. does (drawing charges, moving without the ball) make such a huge difference when you are trying to get a team going.
  • Stan stuck with an 8 man rotation tonight with Big Baby, Redick and Duhon being the only bench players to get any real minutes. It will be interesting to see how Stan uses his minutes tomorrow night on the back-to-back.

The Magic were lucky to steal a win tonight at home and improved to 4-1 on the season.

The Magic are right back at it tomorrow night when they face off against the Pistons in Detroit. Game time is set for 7:30 EST and will be televised locally on Sun Sports and you can watch nationally on NBA League Pass during their free trial.

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