Orlando Magic overcome offensive struggles to beat Sixers in game two


What does everyone say about the Magic? They live and die by the 3 and they live and die by Dwight Howard. Those notions were proven wrong tonight. The Magic didn’t shoot well, Dwight Howard fouled out and the Sixers best three players all scored at least 20 points, yet the Magic were able to grind out a relatively comfortable victory on Wednesday night. How’d they do it? Effort. Three days after being lamented for a lack of effort in game one, the Magic were able to overcome a 26.1 percent 3-point shooting night and a subpar game from Dwight Howard by outhustling and outwilling the Sixers. Seven blocks, 14 offensive rebounds, 17 forced turnovers and 21 second-chance points. And a key decision by Van Gundy – letting Anthony Johnson play the fourth quarter instead of Rafer Alston – led to a matchup that cooled the hot hand of Andre Miller. “I thought that our guys competed very hard, fought very, very hard and really, really worked,” said a very, very, really happy Van Gundy. “It was a struggle.” The Magic were having all kinds of trouble putting the ball in the basket. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis combined to go 7-for-24 from the field, and the Magic only got 11 points from Howard. Luckily, Courtney Lee was there to pick up the mess. The rookie finished with 24 points, and he carried the Magic on his shoulders throughout the second and third quarters. His game has elevated to a new level these last two games. We’re seeing that Lee could potentially be a star in this league. Already, in his first year in the league, he’s showing the ability to put a team on his shoulders and lead his team to a playoff victory. “If we’re going to win, it’s going to come on him to come out every night and play the way he’s been playing,” Howard said of Lee. “I’m very proud of him. Most rookies would not have wanted to be in this situation, but he’s got the ball and he’s not afraid.” Philadelphia’s backups – guys like Donyell Marshall, Theo Ratliff and Lou Williams – were nowhere to be found after leading the Sixers to game-one victory. Andre Miller (30 points), Andre Iguodala (21) and Thad Young (20) combined for 71 points and shot 57 percent. The rest of the guys combined to go 7-of-26 from the field and score 16 points. A lot of the credit should go to Marcin Gortat, who patrolled the paint for 17 minutes while Howard was resting or in foul trouble. Orlando’s defense really didn’t miss a beat with Howard off the floor. Gortat’s line of 0 points and six rebounds won’t garner much attention, but he deserves some praise for tonight. Hear what the players and coaches are saying after the jump. What they’re saying: Courtney Lee: “When they sag off me, that’s what they’re saying. They want me to shoot the jumpshot. A lot of teams are going to do that, knowing that [Dwight] is so dominant down low. So I just need to be ready and prepared to knock down some jumpshots.” Rashard Lewis: “The good thing about tonight is that we got the win while struggling on the offensive end, so imagine what could happen if we’re hitting on all cylinders and Dwight is dominating the paint. We should win by more than we won by tonight.” Dwight Howard: “If guys are in foul trouble, or shots are not falling like we need to, then everybody has to step up and play big. And Courtney has been playing big for us. I think Anthony Johnson, getting into the game, he’s playing great basketball. In order for us to win, we’ve got to have guys like that step up for us.” Anthony Johnson: “I’ve been around, especially on some good teams. We’ve had some deep playoff runs. I do lead the team in games played, and I’m trying to bring that experience to this ballclub and to this locker room. I told the guys it’s not going to be easy. As much as we want to beat everybody by 20 points, it’s not gonna happen. We gotta take it possession by possession, and just worry about the present and moment and take care of business there.” Stan Van Gundy: “I don’t think we necessarily have guys playing that badly. We’re just struggling shooting the ball. I’ve got to think at some point during this series we’re actually going to have a good shooting night.” Rafer Alston: “We gotta find a way to play with a lead and put teams away. That’s what we gotta figure out. We were able to work hard and work ourselves to a lead. Then it’s a matter of sustaining it and staying with it.” Magic’s best: Courtney Lee carried the Magic with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting. He also played hard-nosed defense on the other end. Without a doubt, Lee was the game’s MVP. Magic’s worst: It’d have to be the offense in general. Turkoglu is off. There’s something wrong with him, as he’s just out of his element right now. He said after the game that his ankle feels fine. Maybe it’s rust? Up next: The Magic have one day of travel and light practice before visiting Philadelphia for game three on Friday night.