The Magic's Hedo Turkoglu is all-smiles during the Magic's 102-92 victory over the Nets on Tuesday night. Turkoglu score 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter.
Photo by Bill Kostrun, the Associated Press
Here's what Hardwood Paroxysm wrote yesterday in previewing the Magic/Nets game in its daily Ball Movements post:
Nothing Says "Magic" Like New Jersey: Well, then. Here's a nice little recipe. Let's take the team that lost it's franchise point guard and got back an injured youngster point guard, a behemoth underneatoth, and some bits and pieces. Then let's put on the other side a team that has the consistency of a malt with jello chunks in it. Tasty! Now let's put them in a game heading into the playoff stretch run while the rest of the East has improved via trades. Bake for 48 minutes at 500 degrees. Sprinkle with basil, paprika, and half-man, half-season for taste. Enjoy. Orlando at New Jersey, 7:30PM EST.
He got it absolutely right. As my dad would say (and probably did say, if he was watching), that game was not one to put in the time capsule. It was pretty brutal. Thankfully, the good guys prevailed, despite being out-hustled by a Nets team trying to prove its relevance in the East. However, even with their tough play, they needed uncharacteristically hot three-point shooting (the team connects on just 34% of its threes on the season, but managed to go 8-of-17 from deep in the first three periods) just to pull to within three points at the end of the third quarter. Ladies and gentlemen, your New Jersey Nets!
Hedo Turkoglu, as he's done all season, bailed-out the Magic in the final frame. He scored 17 points on 4-of-4 shooting, giving him 25 points for the game. It's a good thing Hedo got his clutch on, too; he and Rashard Lewis, who also finished with 25 points, were the only Magic starters to distinguish themselves.
No, really. Josh Boone outplayed Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson was largely ineffective and played less than half the game, and Maurice Evans -- although he did finish with a solid 14 points -- had his hands full guarding Vince Carter. Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Magic won a game despite not giving a great effort. Fortunately, Keyon Dooling changed the complexion of the game when he entered, scoring 10 points in the first half to give the Magic a one-point lead at the intermission.
Last night's result got me thinking: is this "favorable" schedule down the stretch really a good thing? The Magic have 23 games left to play, just six of which against teams currently above .500. Given last night's (lack of) effort, I worry about our guys getting used to being able to win games with sub-par efforts, which they obviously cannot do in the playoffs. Stan Van Gundy needs to come up with a way to keep his team motivated. Otherwise, [insert your own golf cliche here].