It was a sloppy, mundane, lackluster performance for the first three quarters – and an incredible finish masked it all for the Magic. The Magic were down 84-74 with 8:26 to go in the fourth quarter when the Magic put on a truly memorable offensive display. It was one of the best offensive tears Orlando has gone on this season. Check out the Magic’s possessions during the 5-minute stretch:
7:38 77-84 ORL Hedo Turkoglu made Driving Layup 7:38 78-84 ORL Hedo Turkoglu made Free Throw 7:04 81-86 ORL Hedo Turkoglu made 3-pt. Jump Shot, 6:38 81-86 ORL Dwight Howard missed Hook Shot 6:19 84-88 ORL Rashard Lewis made 3-pt. Jump Shot 5:35 87-90 ORL Hedo Turkoglu made 3-pt. Jump Shot 4:56 87-90 ORL Dwight Howard missed Hook Shot 4:24 89-90 ORL Courtney Lee made Driving Layup 3:56 89-90 ORL Rafer Alston missed Layup 3:49 ORL Offensive Rebound by Dwight Howard 3:48 91-90 ORL Dwight Howard made Slam Dunk 3:25 93-90 ORL Hedo Turkoglu made Driving Layup 2:40 96-93 ORL Rafer Alston made 3-pt. Jump Shot
They went 4-for-4 from the 3-point line, after hitting three 3-pointers in the first three quarters. 8-for-11 from the field. And my favorite part? The three misses were all within 10 feet of the basket. Two of the misses were Dwight Howard hook shots – no big deal, he’s going to miss some. The other miss was a Rafer Alston lay-up, which Howard cleaned up and slammed home after an offensive rebound. It was a performance highlighted by some hot shooting and nearly perfect execution of the offensive scheme. Playoff mentality? While most of us viewed this game as a relatively meaningless mid-March game against a 28-win team, Dwight Howard had a different point of view. Check out the following excerpt from Dwight Howard’s blog, which he posted today:
It almost feels likes a playoff series to us. We’ve talked about that as a team, using these two games against the Knicks to get us ready for the playoffs. The postseason begins in less than four weeks, so it’s never too early to start getting ready.
It’s a little unnerving that the Magic had to overcome a 10-point deficit against the Knicks in a game that “almost feels like a playoff series to us.” But, again, the clutch play is promising. For whatever reason, the Magic just can’t shake off the Knicks. MAGIC’S BEST: With his 29 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks, this section is clearly Dwight Howard’s. But Hedo Turkoglu deserves some praise for his play in the fourth quarter. Of course, Turkoglu’s struggles in the first three quarters were a big reason the Magic were losing. Courtney Lee logged 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting in one of the best games of his career. MAGIC’S WORST: Welcome back, Rashard Lewis. After a recent stint as the Magic’s best performer, Lewis went 3-of-10 and scored 10 points. He really wasn’t a factor down the stretch. If his knee is bothering him, he should probably just sit out a few games. We’ll discuss this further in the future. DEFENDING DWIGHT: After letting a lot of physical slide on Saturday night, the refs were a little tighter tonight and it showed in Howard’s play. The Knicks usually brought the double-team late, once Howard began his move. If you’re going to double, that’s the best way because Howard really doesn’t pass off the dribble. TELLING STATISTIC: The 36 fourth-quarter points helped the Magic win their third game in three tries against the Knicks. And the Magic ended the game on a 32-18 run.