LeBron James' Defensive Mastery of Hedo Turkoglu Presents Myriad Problems to Orlando Magic

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Orlando Magic dropped a 91-81 decision to the Miami Heat on Sunday, wrapping the season series against the in-state rivals with each team winning twice on its home floor. Dwyane Wade scored 31 points to lead Miami, while Chris Bosh added an efficient 23 points, overshadowing the production of two-time league MVP LeBron James.

But that's not to say James played poorly: though he needed 14 field-goal attempts and eight foul shots to score his 14 points, James posted game-highs with 12 rebounds, seven assists, and five steals.

Moreover, though, he continued his defensive mastery of Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu. On the eve of his 33rd birthday, Turkoglu shot just 1-of-5 from the floor in 29 minutes. He tallied four rebounds, three assists, a steal, and three turnovers as well.

Turkoglu's awful performance Sunday wasn't out of the norm for him. It brought his season stats against Miami to to 13 points on 5-of-23 shooting aong with 15 turnovers. And though Turkoglu hasn't really been himself since January ended--he's scoring 10.1 points per game on 37.2 percent shooting over the last month-plus--his inability to produce against Miami, and more specifically against James, is worrisome.

How badly has Turkoglu performed against James? In 102 minutes of shared floor-time this season, Turkoglu's scoring at a 2.5 points-per-36-minutes clip and shooting just 18 percent, according to the NBA StatsCube.

I reiterate: 2.5 points per 36 on 18 percent shooting.

James effectively turns Turkoglu into New Jersey Nets swingman DeShawn Stevenson. Chew on that for a second or two.

Orlando's two wins against the Heat in 2011/12 offered some hope it'd be able to upset them in the postseason. But it's become quite clear that it'll have to do it despite Turkoglu, not because of him. Indeed, backup forward Quentin Richardson has made a stronger case for playing time against the Heat due to his strong, physical defense against James, who shoots just 40 percent from the field when Richardson's on the court, says StatsCube.

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