The Magic's Hedo Turkoglu puts up a reverse layup around the Heat's Shaquille O'Neal in Saturday night's game.
Photo by Phelan M. Ebanhack, the Associated Press
The Magic showed focus and intensity tonight in defeating the Miami Heat, 120-99, despite Dwyane Wade's 32 points. Hedo Turkoglu lead the Magic with 27 points and Keyon Dooling chipped in 17 off the bench. Here's the boxscore, and here's an insightful recap from the Heat's beat writer, Ira Winderman, who has covered the team since its inception.
The final victory margin doesn't show it, but the Heat actually played well tonight. They shot 47% and committed just 13 turnovers. It wasn't as though we beat up on a bad team having an off night; rather, we beat up on an average team having a fairly good night.
Before I go any further, let me say that I do think the Heat are "for real." They're just 3-10 right now, but I'm not ready to write them off. Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade are simply too talented to let this team stink too badly. And Ricky Davis is a pretty solid third banana. If they're still 7 games under .500 at the All-Star break, I'll write them off. Until then, I'll consider them playoff contenders.
As for our team... wow. We played well on both ends of the floor and never relented, outscoring the Heat in each quarter of play. The Magic's hustle was particularly apparent in the following sequence in the third quarter: With the Magic leading by 15 points, Rashard Lewis takes the ball to the basket, but misses the layup. The rebound is batted around and lands on the floor near the foul line, Keith Bogans dives onto the ball and throws it back out to Jameer Nelson, who then finds Hedo Turkoglu on the left wing for one of his five three-pointers. But that wasn't all; after the Magic force a Ricky Davis miss, Nelson rebounds the ball, but his outlet pass is intercepted by Davis, who charges right at the hoop. Nelson, the only Magic defender back, leaps into Davis and body-checks him as he shoots, forcing the shot to miss. Although Davis hit both free throws, Nelson's hustle and willingness to give up his body for the good of the team exemplified the Magic's tough, energetic play tonight. If they keep playing this intense, smart brand of basketball, they'll be a tough team to beat.
I'd also like to compliment Maurice Evans and Brian Cook, the newcomers. Cook scored 4 points and Evans, in his Magic debut, scored 6. He also made good on Lakers fans' promises that he'd be great on the fast-break, as all three of his field goals were dunks, two of which coming in transition. Although he needed 7 shots to score 6 points, he was still effective, and I look forward to seeing what he can do in the future. In fact, if he can play solid defense, and finish on the fast break, and hit the occasional corner three-pointer, doesn't that automatically make him a batter player for our system than Trevor Ariza was?
All in all, tonight's game was an impressive showing for the Magic, who will head out west for five games beginning Monday in Portland. Let's see if we can't build on the momentum we gained with this impressive win.