Anderson, Magic provide hope for a Dwight-less Orlando
Short-handed schmort-handed. It made no difference tonight at home for the Orlando Magic as they collectively dismantled a strong defensive Philadelphia 76er team by a final score of 113-110. Philly came into the game ranked 2nd in the league in defensive efficiency, but they couldn’t hold down a feisty Magic squad who had one of their best offensive performances of the season.
The team played with a freedom tonight that they typically don’t possess with Dwight Howard in the lineup. Running more pick and rolls and not having to force the ball into the paint, helped create an environment that encouraged the extra pass to be made. Orlando finished with 28 assists to just 11 turnovers, a significantly better ratio than the team normally sees.
Ryan Anderson put up Dwight Howard numbers on the day with 26 points and 16 rebounds. More impressively, he did it while attempting just two 3-point attempts. Ryan attacked the glass and earned easy put back baskets that kept the team in the game early, and then helped to push the lead in the end. After the game, Stan Van Gundy told the media that all things considered, this was probably Ryan’s best game this year.
It was a team effort for the Magic though as they saw 6 total players score in double figures, including Earl Clark who had his first career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“If you’re a Magic fan that didn’t enjoy tonight, I don’t understand that. I know I am extremely proud of the guys we put out tonight.” -Stan Van Gundy post game
Stan is right. I think it’s safe to say that fans had little expectations from the team tonight missing Hedo, Baby and Dwight, but seeing the hustle, energy and enthusiastic spirit from each and every player to hit the floor, was -to put it simply- fun.
A game like this gives fans hope. It hasn’t happened much this season with all the Dwight-drama, but a little bit of hope can go along way for the other 14 guys on the roster not named Dwight Howard that can prove that at any given moment, they can be the difference maker. Look no further than Daniel Orton who got his first start since HIGH SCHOOL tonight and came out, busted his ass, and made an impact on the final score.
I asked Stan after the game if he thought the team could keep up this sort of play and you could tell he wasn’t overly concerned with thinking about it. For one night, he just wanted to enjoy a team win with no distractions. Subtle shot?
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Stan on if they can continue this play, somewhat side-stepping the question, “I don’t have any idea. We’ll find out as we go forward. I love the way they’ve played for two games and I’m going to enjoy that, And it does tell you the value of a team and playing hard. And it’s not just two guys, it’s about a lot of guys getting involved in the game.”