Keyon Dooling drives to the basket as Dwight Howard screens away the defense of New York's Jamal Crawford in the Magic's 110-96 victory over the Knicks.
Photo by Fernando Medina, NBAE/Getty Images
The Orlando Magic defended their home floor successfully for the first time since November 24th by defeating the New York Knicks, 110-96, at the Amway Arena. Here's the boxscore.
Tonight's victory is eerily similar to our first one against the Knicks, in which we spotted the Gothamites a one-point halftime lead before taking over in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter. Had we lost this one, it would have truly been embarrassing. Somehow, we managed to trail at halftime despite outshooting the Knicks, .541-.396. We also struggled to force turnovers, but luckily the Knicks naturally cooled off... or the Magic naturally warmed up. Either way, we won the game running away, and our strong effort should give us a bit of momentum as we prepare to play the struggling Heat on Friday in Miami.
It wasn't all good news for the Magic, though. Yes, we got the win, but our backcourt once again struggled. Keith Bogans gave us the basketball equivalent of a golden sombrero, going 1-of-11 from three-point range, wasting Magic possessions (and killing my fantasy team, I should add). Jameer Nelson had just 6 points in 33 minutes, but he was not looking to score too much in this game, instead focusing on setting up his teammates.
Luckily for us, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu brought their A-games. The starting forwards combined for 51 points (on 19-of-32 shooting) to go with 12 rebounds. Turk also dished 6 assists, strengthening his case for inclusion on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Kudos also to Keyon Dooling and Carlos Arroyo, who provided a boost off the bench. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the strong play of James Augustine, who managed to score 6 points (on 3-of-3 shooting) in 15 effective minutes of playing time.
One question remains: what is Keith Bogans going to have to do to lose minutes to J.J. Redick? He shoots 1-of-11 from downtown, plays below-average defense due to a sore knee, and still stays on the court for 25 minutes while J.J. tallies another DNP-CD. At the very least, Stan Van Gundy needs to get him on the court to showcase his abilities for a possible trade.
I never thought I'd ever see the day when James Augustine became more NBA-relevant than J.J. Redick, but that time has come.
Let's try to curb our enthusiasm, though. Beating the Knicks isn't an especially hard thing to do, especially when they are the visiting team; tonight's loss drops them to 1-11 on the road. For me to feel secure about our season again, the Magic will need to beat the Heat and the Bobcats this weekend. Until then, I'm nonplussed.