Big Baby Eats Wheaties, Gazelles Magic Past T-Wolves
The Orlando Magic’s continuous mission to prove their doubters wrong hit another high note Monday night. In what has been proclaimed as the most physical game of this young campaign, a 102-93 victory over yet another playoff contender in the Minnesota Timberwolves has vaulted Orlando’s record to 11-13. It’s Jacque Vaughn’s first 3-game win streak as Head Coach. It’s most certainly a signature win. Orlando went from trailing 32-16 in points in the paint at halftime, to claiming that battle 52-50. How was it possible?
Twenty-eight points (20 in the second half) on 13-of-17 shooting from Glen Davis in what was his most efficient performance as a member of this franchise is the answer. Big Baby had 5 dunks and went 10-for-11 in the 2nd half. All of this occurring after picking up a technical foul and venting his frustrations in his failure to deal with Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love early on. Glen Davis looked like a track star in some instances. Call it cherry picking, or smart adjustments, but Big Baby utilized his quickness to gain an upper hand on Minnesota’s lumbering big men. The Magic are now 8-1 when Orlando notches 100+ points and 6-1 when Glen Davis tallies 20+ points.
Coach Vaughn on his team’s efficiency: “It started with stops…We got some transition buckets, kick-aheads, early threes, guys rim-running, and it’s a little easier when you don’t have to play against a set defense…”
It was absolutely crucial that Orlando manage more than the meager 12 first-period points they put up in their 75-90 loss at Minnesota on November 7th. It felt like déjà vu as Minnesota superbly utilized their height advantage and efficient transition style. Orlando’s physical nature on defense would keep them in the ballgame all evening and only trailing 29-27 after one. Ball movement would produce a fluid offensive rhythm for the white-and-blue as Orlando tallied thirty-one assists on 44 field goals tonight.
Coach Vaughn on Redick: “He’s grown as a player…Down the stretch we called his number and whether or not he shoots it, it’s up to him.”
JJ Redick continues to prove his 6th Man value as he produced 18 points and 7 assists. Coach Vaughn dug deep and often into his bench as Josh McRoberts was dusted off for the first time in 3 full games providing an immediate spark and locking down Andrei Kirilenko. A season-high 9 points from Gustavo Ayon as well as causing Pekovic to get in foul trouble late was all the evidence needed to claim this game as the Mexican’s best in a Magic uniform.
A Love 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer found Orlando trailing 61-49 in the locker room. It was a deflating final 3 minutes of the half to say the least for the home side. Love was 7-for-35 in his last 2 games coming into Monday night. 7-of-10 in the first half will get you back on track.
Coach Vaughn on his 3-game win streak: “We’re playing harder as a team and that’s fun to see. We’re believing in each other but we still know that we have a lot of work to do and that’s exciting also, but I think the growth is coming.”
Orlando seemed almost mentally drained to begin the 3rd period as they looked disoriented on defense and beyond disjointed on offense. However, a few stops and back-to-back Glen wide open buckets reeled Orlando to within single digits.
If you haven’t seen McRoberts’ astounding putback dunk, do it now. A gigantic jolt of energy was created and Orlando would eventually carry that momentum into the 4th period and snatch the win because of it. Love and Pekovic each picking up double-doubles, but the Magic proved to be the only squad that displayed team hustle for a full 48 minutes. The Magic would outscore the T-Wolves in the second half by 21 points. Orlando gets a full day to savor this unifying moment before taking on the Washington Wizards at Amway Center on Wednesday.
Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.
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