Magic hold off Knicks

Hedo Turkoglu’s first baby is being born today, and Turkoglu celebrated the occasion in Wednesday’s 114-109 win over the Knicks. Turkoglu finished with 33 points and carried the Magic on 11-of-17 shooting. He scored several jumpers down the stretch, helping the Magic hold off a late Knicks rally sparked by eight fourth-quarter points from Danilo Gallinari. Lack of effort The Magic really should’ve been able to put this game away earlier. They led by double-digits throughout the third quarter and well into the fourth-quarter, but New York’s 3-point shooters killed the Magic down the stretch. For the second straight night, the Magic seemed out of focus. The Knicks pulled down 15 offensive rebounds — that’s 25.8 percent of their missed shots. The Magic have the league’s top rebounder, yet Wilson Chandler, Nate Robinson, Al Harrington, Danilo Gallinari, David Lee and Quentin Richardson all pulled down more than one offensive rebound. Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, who combined to play more than 77 minutes, grabbed eight defensive rebounds between the two of them. Two 6-10 forwards, 77 minutes, eight rebounds. And it’s not like the Knicks weren’t missing shots (they missed 58). Danilo Gallinari made three open shots down the stretch, including two 3-pointers. On all three shots, he was uncovered except for a defender running at him from several body lengths away. The defensive switching was awful. At this point in his career, Gallinari can do one thing: shoot. Keep someone on him. No backcourt defense Defense at the guard position is officially hitting the point of serious concern. Nate Robinson went off for 32 points, and his penetration in the lane opened up the 3-point line for the Knicks all night. After Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon torched the Magic on Tuesday, and Dwyane Wade scored 50 on Sunday, defense in the backcourt is becoming a bigger deal by the game. “Every two-guard in this league ends up with 30 on us,” Stan Van Gundy said in his post-game conference. A healthy Mickael Pietrus will help. 20th 20-20 for Dwight Dwight Howard totaled 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in the first quarter, as the Knicks opted not to waste fouls on him early in the game. Howard finished with 24 points and 21 rebounds, marking the 20th 20-20 game of his career. This stat doesn’t mean much, but I calculated it so you’re going to hear it: Dwight Howard is averaging 22.7 points and 15 rebounds in games after losses this season. That’s a point and a rebound higher than his season average of 21 and 14.1. Mismatches galore Mike D’Antoni likes to experiment with unorthodox lineups, and the Knicks’ personnel have plenty of defensive deficiencies. Whenever Larry Hughes was on the floor, the Magic went right at him. In the third quarter, the Magic used a screen to get Hughes to switch on to Rashard Lewis, and then gave Lewis the ball in the post. They did the same play on four consecutive possessions. It worked. Larry Hughes had the game’s worst point differential, as the Knicks were outscored by 10 while he was on the floor. To guard Howard, the Knicks had nobody. They were sending the double-team before Howard even dribbled. They were doubling on the catch. It’s really a mystery how the Magic didn’t blow this game open.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily