Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors makes an uncontested slam-dunk after blowing by the defense of Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic. The Raptors won, 127-110.
Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images
In a horrid display of defensive ineptitude, the Orlando Magic let the Toronto Raptors score 127 points and get virtually any shot they wanted. The game featured 89 possessions, meaning the Raptors blistered the Magic for an offensive rating of 142.7. Chris Bosh abused Dwight Howard for 40 points -- two shy of his career-high -- on 14-of-16 shooting; Howard returned the favor, with 37 points -- two shy of his career-high -- on 13-of-16 shooting. With the teams' respective superstars putting on offensive clinics against one another, two factors swayed the game in Toronto's favor:
- Hot three-point shooting;
- Help from teammates
The first factor is no surprise. The Raptors lead the NBA in three-point percentage and feature Jason Kapono, the two-time defending three-point shootout champion. They shot 11-of-20 from downtown on the night. Granted, some of those were lucky makes. Bosh and rookie Jamario Moon, both sub-.300 three-point shooters for their careers, nailed back-to-back treys in the third quarter. But for the most part, the Raptors got the looks they wanted, and that's the Magic's fault; that's not lucky shots by usually poor shooters.
The second factor is pretty eye-popping. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, the Magic's two other major offensive threats, combined for 32 points on 10-of-30 shooting. They looked tired on the second night of a back-to-back, and Turkoglu was more content to defer to his teammates and finished with a team-best 9 assists. Meanwhile, Bosh's supporting cast was much more effective. Every Raptor who played more than 20 minutes shot at least 50% from the floor. Carlos Delfino and Jose Calderon combined for 7 three-pointers. Taking away the horrid play of Andrea Bargnani, the 7'0" center whom the Raptors drafted with the first overall selection in the 2006 NBA draft, the Raptors shot 46-of-72. Unreal.
As horridly as we played tonight, we shouldn't get too worried. We were on the second night of a back-to-back playing a contending team on the road. Additionally, we were coming off two great efforts against Denver and Detroit in which we held them to sub-100 offensive ratings. And with a somewhat favorable schedule to end the month, the Magic should still be in good shape headed into March and the big playoff push.
A final note on Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard: as Magic play-y-play man David Steele noted, Bosh and Howard have a good relationship, as Bosh was a freshman at Georgia Tech when Howard was a high-school senior at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. Bosh has consistently outplayed Howard in head-to-head matchups, but most reasonable NBA fans would agree that Howard is the better player and has the best shot at being a championship big-man at some point in their career. In this respect, the Bosh/Howard relationship resembles that of Chris Paul and Deron Williams, the two point guards forever linked because of their draft class. Williams has beaten Paul in 7 of his Jazz's 8 head-to-head meetings with Paul's Hornets, and has consistently outplayed him in those meetings, yet Paul is a much better player and a bona-fide MVP candidate. It will be interesting to see how the Bosh/Howard relationship plays out as their careers progress. Although Detroit and Boston are clearly in a class by themselves in the Eastern Conference, they're also much older than Toronto and Orlando. Cleveland is another great team, but they don't have a young, dominant big-man. Thus, there's a great chance that Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard will do battle in several Eastern Conference Finals series in the years to come.
And I can't wait.