Regrettably, I have no recap to write for last night's game. I'm scrambling to back up all the files on my laptop because I fear I need to send it off for repair. If you don't hear from me for a while, that's where I am.
Crisis averted. Here are some bullets on last night's big win over Philadelphia:
- The Magic set the tone on the first play of the game when Dwight Howard got an uncontested dunk. I've never seen him -- or anyone, come to think of it -- that wide-open under the basket. There wasn't anyone from either team within 15 feet of him. So what happened? Samuel Dalembert left Howard to trap Jameer Nelson on the pick-and-roll, but no 76er rotated over to cover Howard. Nelson was able to thread the needle to Dwight, which made Dalembert look foolish. He stared at his teammates incredulously, as if to say, "How the heck did you forget to cover for me?"
- The same thing happened on the Magic's next possession.
- No fouls were called for the first 6 minutes of the first quarter. There were at least 3 committed on every play, though.
- More fun with Dalembert: on one second-quarter Magic possession, Dalembert committed 3 fouls. It's one thing to pick up 3 quick fouls within a 10-or-20 second span; it's quite another to do it within one possession. It was an Ostertagian "effort" on Dalembert's part.
- Despite the whooping Philadelphia gave us last month in Philly, I still think we match up with them better than with any other potential first-round opponent. The 76ers are the worst three-point shooting team in the league, and they play at a slow pace. Put those two factors together and you have a team that's simply ill-equipped to battle back from double-digit deficits. Something tells me the 76ers would like that Kyle Korver fellow -- shooting .386 from beyond the arc
as a Jazzman Jazzer Jazzwith Utah -- back in their lineup.
- Hats off to the Turkish fans who populated three upper-bowl sections. They were loud, crazy, and passionate, and they enhanced what was already a fantastic experience.
- Hats off to Hedo Turkoglu for purring together a great all-around performance: he scored 16 points, 4 below his average, but did so on only 8 shot attempts, and only one 3-point attempt. Philadelphia game-planned on Hedo shooting threes, and he used that to his advantage with some great pump-fakes to confuse Philadelphia defenders; he would then barrel into the lane with intensity I haven't seen from any Magic player since Tracy McGrady. Make no mistake: when T-Mac was in attack mode, he would not be denied at the rim. Hedo was the same way last night. Incredible.
- Maurice Cheeks certainly deserves some Coach of the Year consideration -- even at 34-35, the 76ers are overachieving -- but he made two pretty big blunders tonight:
- He did not take advantage of Andre Miller's size advantage over the Magic's point guards. Miller is fantastic in the low-post and routinely gives Nelson fits. For whatever reason, the 76ers did not exploit that matchup as much as they have in previous games.
- He stopped applying full-court pressure. Late in the first quarter, the 76ers began using the full-court press, which gave us fits. Not only did we have a hard time just getting the ball up the floor, but we also struggled to get into our offense once we did. Philadelphia closed the quarter on an 8-0 run and continued to chip-into that lead in the second quarter. Then the 76ers stopped pressing, we reasserted ourselves, and we coasted to victory.
- It seemed as though everyone in the arena participated in the "WE-WANT-J.-J.!" chant, which started at the beginning of the fourth quarter and did not subside until Stan Van Gundy relented, subbing J.J. in with 7:31 to play in the game. I thought the ovation was loud then, but I hadn't heard anything yet: when J.J. hit the first shot he took -- a tough jumper from the left wing -- the crowd went nuts. This is not hyperbole: it was nearly as loud as the commotion that took place after Hedo beat the Celtics with a three-pointer at the buzzer.
- So yeah, one might say J.J. is one of our more popular players.
- We could have won this one by thirty points had Van Gundy not called off the dogs. I'm not complaining.
- You know it's garbage time when Brian Cook recovers a loose ball near midcourt and drives hard to the basket in transition. It was the least spectacular "fast"-break in NBA history.