Behind Hedo Turkoglu's splendid play in the fourth quarter and overtime, the Orlando Magic knocked off the Milwaukee Bucks, 93-89, in a game that ought not have been so hotly contested. Turkoglu scored 14 points and dished five assists in the final period and bonus five minutes, and clinched the game by sinking two free throws with 4.3 seconds left to put Orlando up four points. Andrew Bogut, the Bucks' franchise player and a stout defensive center, missed the game with a migraine headache, which allowed Dwight Howard to dominate in kind. Orlando's top player finished with 31 points, 22 boards, and 3 blocks; he also sent Bucks centers Larry Sanders and Jon Brockman home early with six fouls apiece, and 10-day contract signee Earl Barron had five.
Some of Howard's dominance was by design on Milwaukee's part. Coach Scott Skiles elected to have his players hack Howard whenever he had deep post position, which was often, resulting in 24 free-throw attempts. His involvement came at the expense of his teammates, though. Turkoglu scored 19 points, but he was the only other Magic player to play solidly at the offensive end. The starting backcourt of Jason Richardson and Jameer Nelson combined for 23 points on 10-of-28 shooting and did not attempt a free throw. Others, like Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass, simply didn't make open shots.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
Turnovers continue to plague Orlando, as it tallied 19 in a low-possession game; the Magic can't keep punting the ball like that and expect to keep coming away with wins. Tonight, against a likely lottery team missing its best player, Orlando had a high enough margin for error to win despite it all. But a competent offensive team would have wiped the gym floor with the Magic tonight.
For all the offensive issues, two lapses on the defensive end almost cost the Magic the game. With a three-point lead and just under six seconds to play, Jennings launched a three-pointer after sensing contact from Nelson was imminent. Nelson tried wrapping Jennings up off the dribble, but the southpaw eluded him and drew the foul, sinking the tying free throws. A deep Richardson offering at the other end was well off the mark, setting the stage for OT.
With a four-point lead and 1:47 left in overtime, Nelson barreled into Jennings as he knocked in a trey, another crucial lapse. Jennings made the ensuing free throw to tie the game, but Howard sprung free on the Magic's next possession and threw down a monster dunk off an Anderson feed to give the Magic another two-point lead.
The recurring theme tonight, and for the last several weeks of the season for Orlando, was the high cost of giving chances away. In addition to the turnovers and costly defensive errors, the Magic missed 15 foul shots tonight. In a game that went to overtime. Howard was responsible for 11 of those, while Anderson clanked two.
It was encouraging to see Turkoglu continue to recover his swag; he held his follow through on the clinching free throws, once at the foul line and again on his way to the Magic's bench. In his last six games, he's averaging 15.7 points on a splendid 50 percent shooting.
As solid as Turkoglu's been of late, perimeter defense is a concern. The Magic lost track of John Salmons after halftime, and he scored 20 of his 22 points. He managed to outscore the Magic, 16-15, in the third quarter alone, which has to be among the low points for Orlando's season.