Orlando Magic guard Courtney Lee shoots a layup as Minnesota Timberwolves forward Al Jefferson contests in Orlando's 100-89 win on Wednesday night
Photo by Fernando Medina, NBAE/Getty Images
At times, it wasn't pretty, but the Orlando Magic still managed to get the job done against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night. Dwight Howard dominated Al Jefferson with 23 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots. Rashard Lewis also scored 23 for Orlando, and Hedo Turkoglu added 22. In the night's biggest surprise, rookie shooting guard Courtney Lee scored 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting in 34 minutes.
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As the table shows, the Magic shot the lights out when they weren't busy turning the ball over. With no disrespect intended to Minnesota, but a majority of Orlando's 19 turnovers were unforced errors. The Magic were airmailing passes into the seats and dribbling the ball into the Wolves' hands. At times, they exhibited spectacular ineptitude handling the ball, which is why this game will raise a big red flag. If the Magic's shots hadn't dropped at the staggering rate they did, they may have ended up on the losing end of this game. The effort wasn't there, and against a better team it would have been a losing effort. I hope Stan Van Gundy is able to whip his team into shape before Friday's matchup against Oklahoma City. Big-time trap game, that.
Orlando didn't pull away from Minnesota until the third period. The 'Wolves had drawn to within 2 points, 44-42, when forward Mike Miller sustained an ankle injury while battling for a rebound. With Miller in the locker room, Minnesota's offense ground to a halt. Playing the next 8:06 of the game without Miller, the 'Wolves scored 4 points and committed two shot-clock violations. When he finally returned, the game was pretty well out of hand, with Orlando holding a 60-46 edge.
I'd be remiss if I concluded this recap without commenting more on Courtney Lee. He showed incredible quickness off the dribble, something I had not noticed in his earlier appearances. He was able to get to the rim at will, even against reasonably quick defenders like Randy Foye. Once he established his driving game, his jump-shot returned to him. He made all 3 of his three-point attempts, and each one was a no-doubter after it left his hand. The rotation on his shot is really a thing of beauty, as is his ability to motor up the floor in transition.
But Lee did more than score tonight. He also played lock-down defense, and came up with 3 steals by playing the passing lanes (and, to be fair, taking some questionable gambles). Finally, he moved the ball well and finished with three assists. Obviously he's not going to shoot 80% from the field every night, but he's showed signs that he could be this team's backup/sparkplug two-guard of the future.
Some final notes follow the jump.
The Magic nearly brought the house down in the third quarter on one fast break. Hedo Turkoglu streaked up the middle of the floor, then made a no-look dish to J.J. Redick on the right wing. J.J. had a notion to shoot, but saw Dwight Howard trailing the play and threw a lob to the Big Fella. The pass was too high for Howard to reach, and the ball sailed out of bounds for a turnover. But imagine if Redick and Howard had connected. Would that play not be included on every Magic highlight reel from here to eternity? Orlando's three most popular players scoring in that fashion, in transition, in their own gym? My God.
Adonal Foyle, subbed into the game for an injured Marcin Gortat (Brian Schmitz says it's a sprained left ankle; the Polish Hammer is day-to-day), made a 15-foot jumper off the dribble. Clip-and-save that sentence, because you will never read it ever again.
Minnesota rookie forward Kevin Love ripped a rebound away from Howard. Clip-and-save that sentence, because you will never read it ever again.
Howard and Minnesota center Jason Collins exchanged words halfway through the third period after getting tangled up under the rim, resulting in a double technical foul. Collins took exception to Howard's carefree throwing of his elbows, and could be heard after the tech telling Howard, in no uncertain terms, "Keep those elbows down."
On one possession, the 'Wolves trapped Turkoglu in the left corner, just in front of Orlando's bench. Turk threw an awful, off-balance crosscourt pass which Minnesota easily intercepted. Stan Van Gundy was close enough to Turkoglu to have strangled him... and looked pretty tempted to, too. Stan was not in a great mood.
Minnesota frequently double-teamed Rashard Lewis on the left block, and Lewis made it pay with great passing. He finished with 5 assists... 4 of them to three-point shooters.
Keith Bogans, who had missed the last five games with a fractured thumb, was back in uniform tonight. Although he did not play, he's well ahead of his rehab schedule and may return as soon as Friday.
That's all. Sloppy win, but a win nonetheless.