Howard’s Huge Night Lifts Magic Over Warriors 117-109


The Orlando Magic got off to a dreadful start, allowing the Golden State Warriors to score the game’s first nine points. After seeing the Warriors push the lead to 13, the Magic rallied, ending the half on a 16-7 run to cut it to just four. The Magic took their first lead early in the third quarter on a Ryan Anderson three-pointer. By the end of the quarter, the Warriors reclaimed an 82-80 lead. In the final quarter, the two teams went back-and-fourth with neither able to get stops on the defensive end. With the game tied at 109, Dwight Howard rebounded a Hedo Turkoglu missed three-pointer, put it back in and proceeded to hit the free throw. After a Magic stop, Von Wafer hit a three-pointer. The Magic ended the game on an 8-0 run, giving the Magic a 117-109 victory.

Dwight Howard finished with 45 points and 23 rebounds and broke an NBA record previously held by Wilt Chamberlin by attempting 39 free throws in the game. Monta Ellis had 30 points and 11 assists to lead the Warriors while David Lee scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Warriors coach Jackson went to the “Hack-A-Howard” strategy, fouling Howard throughout the game and sending him to the line a record 39 times. It seemed to be working – Howard made just nine of his first 24 attempts from the stripe. However, Howard made 12 of his last 15 attempts and helped the Magic hold off the Warriors. It wasn’t all free throws – Howard had it going offensively. His running hook was near perfect all night and he was very aggressive, attempting a season-high 21 shots (he made 12). 45 points on 21 shots!  Howard finished the game with 45 points, 23 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks. Simply put, Howard was incredible.

Howard’s greatness was countered by their inability to defend. The Warriors scored the first nine points of the game and wound up with an effective field goal percentage of 58.5%. They also went 10-of-23 from beyond the arc. Orlando couldn’t stop Golden State’s guards. Monta Ellis and Nate Robinson flew by Magic defenders with ease throughout the game, getting to the basket and setting up open looks for their teammates – the Magic have struggled against quicker, penetrating guards over the last few seasons. The Magic even went to a zone, but Golden State’s shooters, namely rookie Klay Thompson (14 points, 4-of-5 from beyond the arc), took advantage.

Orlando’s offense was nearly as good throughout a good portion of the game and because of Howard’s free throws, they were even better. They countered Golden State’s impressive eFG% by posting a percentage of 59.6%. The Magic went 11-of-23 from beyond the arc, with seven of those makes coming after halftime.

The Magic also out-rebounded the Warriors 43-38 and won the turnover battle, giving it away just 10 times to the Warriors’ 14.

Hedo Turkoglu was very impressive again. Turkoglu scored 20 points on 5-of-12 shooting, getting to the line eight times himself. He dished out nine assists, grabbed four rebounds and turned the ball over just once. Orlando seems to go exclusively to the 3/5 pick-and-roll with Turkoglu at the end of games and it has paid off. Whether it’s passing to Howard, getting to the rim, or taking a three-pointer, Turkoglu has been making excellent decisions after the screen. Howard is always the biggest reason for Orlando’s success, but Turkoglu is currently the second biggest reason, at least on this road trip. If Turkoglu can keep playing at this level, the Magic will at least have a chance against the league’s elite.

Jason Richardson was lost to a sprained MCL after bumping knees with a Warriors player. Von Wafer (eight points, three assists, and two rebounds) and J.J. Redick (13 points, three assists, three rebounds). tried to fill the void. Both players made some excellent plays on offense, but were beaten pretty badly on defense. Redick just doesn’t have the quickness to stay in front of a player like Ellis.

  • Stan Van Gundy still went to both Wafer and Redick down the stretch, employing a small lineup consisting of Howard, Turkoglu, Wafer, Redick and Jameer Nelson (nine points, six assists, three steals).
  • Orlando’s usual power forwards, Ryan Anderson (21 minutes, 11 points, five rebounds) and Glen Davis (14 minutes, four points, two rebounds) played a combined 35 minutes.

Next Up: The Magic will get a few days off before starting their back-to-back-back Monday in New York against the Knicks.

Final Thought: I don’t think anyone’s going to complain about a west coast road trip that saw the Magic go 3-0.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider ( and is the co-host of the Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)