It takes a lot for Stan Van Gundy to be happy. The man has such an attention to detail and such a long-term view of the season, the good in individual games can often be lost.
For a team like Orlando that can be a very good thing. There has been one goal that for a long time has been very far off. The Playoffs are finally in reach and the scrutiny and attention are sharpening. Things are slowly rounding into form.
Orlando continued fine tuning things, making sure the offense was working Friday night. The Knicks are notorious for porous defense and a style that lulls their opponent’s defense to sleep. Things were not perfect — they never are for Van Gundy — but Orlando continued to take care of business with an easy 118-103 win Friday at Amway Arena.
Van Gundy admitted after the game, that even though he has been critical in the latest stretch of games about Orlando’s play, it is not like the team is not trying and doing well. Contrary to the belief that Van Gundy is never happys, he was happy at least one thing tonight.
The Magic are well on their way to preparing for the postseason, starting to click offensively and slowly rounding into defensive form.
Dwight Howard and Vince Carter led the offense with 25 points and dominated offensively. Orlando shot 56 percent from the floor and 15 of 32 from beyond the arc.
New York likes to try to outscore its opponents. But the Knicks quickly found themselves trailing. The Magic led 35-21 after one quarter.
Orlando maintained its lead above 10 points for pretty much the rest of the game, expanding it out to more than 20 in the third quarter after the starters sat out most of the second quarter.
Most of Van Gundy’s frustrations came in the fourth quarter with the Magic caring for a large lead as the defense waned and the Knicks cut the lead closer to single digits. New York shot 47 percent from the floor and hit on 16 of its 33 3-point attempts.
But it was clear it would not be enough tonight.
Dwight Howard did not block many shots, but he dominated the game defensively. The Knicks could not attack the basket at all and made their shots to make the score look more respectable than it really was. Howard did not have any blocked shots, but he changed plenty of shots as always.
Howard dominated offensively too tonight with 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting.
Carter dominated too with 25 points as well and, while he struggled shooting with 9-of-19 shooting, he knifed his way to the basket and was in full attack mode most of the night.
It was pretty clear Orlando was not looking to play its starters much tonight. Howard and Carter were the only two players to top 30 minutes tonight. This, after nobody played more than 30 minutes in Wednesday’s win over Washington.
The bench stepped up again to maintain the Magic’s lead in the second quarter and help set up the beginning of the third quarter when they expanded it. Ryan Anderson scored 19 points and JJ Redick scored 15 points.
The offense was flowing tonight with players driving to the basket, finding Howard for easy shots in the post — with New York switching on screen and rolls, he often had Danilo Gallinari guarding him — and hitting 3-pointers. The defense, despite the poor numbers, was not horrible either.
The rotations were quick and when the Magic played it well, the Knicks could not score. Unfortunately when playing in a track meet, the two teams often forsake defense to score and score more. That happened tonight and New York took advantage.
But that is really the only complaint one could have from this game. Van Gundy made a note of it and decided to move on. Orlando is keeping its eyes on the big prize, three games from reaching the postseason.