The Orlando Magic cruised to an 88-68 victory--their sixth straight overall--against the New Orleans Hornets on Christmas Day. Hedo Turkoglu led Orlando with 20 points and 5 assists, while Dwight Howard added 15 rebounds and 3 blocks. The Hornets were led by David West's 13 points and 7 rebounds. Chris Paul finished with only 4 assists and no steals, ending his NBA record of consecutive games played with at least one steal.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
I'm sure you'll understand why I want to be brief with this recap. First, it's the holidays. Second, there were only 24 minutes of meaningful basketball to discuss, and the Magic dominated those 24 minutes. It was clear from the early going that the Hornets didn't "bring it," whatever you consider "it" to be. Don't get me wrong, they played hard and were engaged--West and Tyson Chandler were very animated and demonstrative with the officials, as was Paul to a slightly lesser degree--but it didn't translate into smart basketball. The Hornets continually drove the ball into the paint, where Howard greeted them with a smile and a blocked shot. The high pick-and-roll with Paul and either West or Chandler repeatedly produced mismatches, such as the 6'09"/240 West posting up the 6'00"/180 Jameer Nelson, but the Hornets were unwilling or unable to exploit those mismatches.
Hedo Turkoglu made the difference for Orlando today. On a day when all the Magic's usual starters played well--Mickael Pietrus is still coming off the bench, but he's due to regain his starting job any day now--it was Turk who stood out the most. Hedo attacked the paint frequently and under-control; we didn't see too many wild shots from Hedo, at least not with the game's outcome in doubt. He was responsible for the Magic's second-most embarrassing play, though. Leading a fast break, Turk eschewed dunking the ball in favor of trying to finger-roll it off the glass. Ouch.
The most embarrassing one, though, was Tony Battie's third-quarter three-point attempt. Yes, he was at the top of the key, which is one of his favorite spots. Yes, he was wide open. But there were 12 seconds on the shot clock! Jeez, Tony. Move the ball.
Indeed, it was the Magic's reluctance to pass in the second half that lead to their shooting 23% for 27 points. Those are indeed totals for a full half, not a quarter. Turkoglu finished with 5 assists for the game, but only one of them came after intermission. Hedo committed his fair share of head-scratching turnovers by forcing the ball to Dwight and/or by telegraphing his pass. Anthony Johnson was guilty, too.
What's wrong with Jameer Nelson? He only finished with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting (4-of-6 from three-point range). What a bum! Get him out of there!
No, but seriously, Nelson's is a huge factor in Orlando's being able to win games like today's when Howard is a non-factor offensively. Chandler sure fouled him a lot, but he also cleanly blocked several shots Dwight usually puts up with ease. At least Dwight still contributed defensively.
Atrocious second-half aside, a win is a win. In very short order, and on the national stage, the Magic blew the doors off one of the league's better teams. The extended garbage time takes nothing away from that.