Supporting Cast Steps Up During Howard’s Frustrating Night, Magic Beat Heat 96-80

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The Magic proved that they don’t always need a huge game from superstar Center Dwight Howard to get a victory.  Howard was limited to just under 25 minutes because of foul trouble and managed only 7 points and 5 rebounds but other Magic players stepped up and helped put the Heat away in the second half for a 96-80 win. Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 21 points in his return from injury. Rashard Lewis led all scorers with 22 points.

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It was a tale of two halves for the Magic. Although they had a four-point halftime lead, they were not playing very well. At the half, Miami had 22 rebounds to Orlando’s 15 with 9 of them coming on the offensive glass. Miami had 22 points in the paint and scored 9 second chance points. Dwyane Wade, who entered the game averaging 30.1 points per game against the Magic, had 17 points at the half and was 7-of-10 from the free throw line.

The second half was a different story. Orlando allowed the Heat to shoot just 13-of-34 (38.3%) from the field in the and only allowed the Heat to attempt three free throws. The Magic outrebounded Miami 22-16, only gave up 2 offensive rebounds and outscored Miami in the paint 10-6. Miami only had 2 second chance points in the second half. Dwyane Wade shot just 1-of-5 in the second half and only attempted two free throws. Van Gundy thought that Wade must have been “tired” after not having played for a while.

Jameer Nelson credited Wade’s poor second half to Magic adjustments. “We had to help more,” Nelson told reporters after the game. “We can’t leave our guys on an island when they’re playing against anybody, let alone an All-Star, a superstar, one of the best players in the league. You got to shut down the paint and make other guys beat you. We did that. We gave up 32 points in the second half.”

Nelson also admitted that without that adjustment, the outcome might have been different. “And if you don’t shrink the floor,” Nelson said. “You may give up 50 because he’s going to get going and keep going.”

Orlando’s superstar also had a quiet and frustrating night. Dwight Howard played just under 25 minutes because of foul trouble. Howard scored just 7 points on 1-of-7 shooting and grabbed just 5 rebounds. He was visibly frustrated throughout the game and told reporters that he really wanted to “toss the ball to planet Krypton” after he was called for his fifth foul.

Neither Van Gundy nor Howard would complain any more about the officiating after being prodded by reporters.

This meant that other players had to step up and they did just that. Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy joked that it was good that other players did step up because they “owed” Dwight, saying “We told Dwight in there afterwards that we certainly owed him, he’s been carrying us.”

Stepping in for Howard was Center Marcin Gortat who scored 9 points on 3-of-4 shooting, grabbed 7 rebounds and blocked 3 shots. Gortat told the media he knew he was going to play today because he can tell when Howard is going to get in foul trouble before the game even starts. Gortat always claims that he is ready when called upon and he backed that up on Sunday night.

Orlando’s shooting guards were excellent. J.J. Redick. Redick scored 15 points. He shot an effective field goal percentage of 57% and a true shooting percentage of 72% because he was able to draw fouls and went 7-of-7 from the line. Redick also ran the pick-and-roll very well.

“I was able to take advantage of some pick-and-roll opportunities and turn the corner and get into the paint,” Redick said. “I tried to use my shot fake to get guys off the ground and lean into them and I got a couple that way tonight.”

Van Gundy even picked Redick to finish the game.

“I had every intention of going back to him,” Van Gundy said. “But then I thought J.J. really got going and I was bringing some other guys back in and I don’t like to have everybody out there cold, so I just stuck with him.”

Redick hit two critical fourth quarter three-pointers, proving it was no slight on Carter.

“They both played extremely well, we got 32 points out of that position,” Van Gundy said in his postgame press conference.

Carter scored 17 points on a very efficient 7-of-10 shooting. Carter scored 7 points in a third quarter that saw Orlando extend a four-point half time lead to 12.

Rashard Lewis, who had 5 points in that third quarter, was the star for Orlando. Lewis, who has been struggling, scored 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting. The three-pointer still wasn’t falling for Lewis (2-of-7) so he went inside instead. Lewis shot 6-of-7 on two-pointers and was much more aggressive – he did a good job of getting to the hoop.

“Obviously, Rashard played probably his most aggressive offensive game in a long time,” Van Gundy told the media. “He was putting the ball on the floor and taking it to the basket.”

When all of Orlando’s players play well like Van Gundy thought they did tonight, they don’t need an incredible performance by a single player.

“If everybody plays well,” Nelson said. “Nobody has to play great.”

Game Notes:

  • Orlando turned the ball over just eight times, a number that Van Gundy was very happy with.
  • Four Magic players scored in double figures (Lewis 22, Carter 17, Redick 15, Nelson 12).
  • Dwight Howard’s streak of 20 consecutive double-doubles came to an end.
  • Dwight Howard’s five rebounds tied a season low.

Next Up: The Magic have to travel to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers on Monday night.

Final Thought: It was good to see other Magic players step up and give a consistent effort throughout the night.

Van Gundy thought consistency was the key.

“We won every quarter,” Van Gundy said. “None of them by a lot, no big blowout quarters, we just consistently played pretty well.”

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).