Hedo Turkoglu gave this large contingent of fans from his native Turkey plenty to cheer about in the Magic's victory over the Clippers. Turkoglu accounted for 23 of the Magic's 25 fourth-quarter points.
Photo by Noah Graham, NBAE/Getty Images
The Magic nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory tonight in Los Angeles, blowing plenty of double-digit leads in the second half, but Hedo Turkoglu put the team on his back and lead it to victory. He tied a season-high with 28 points. More impressively, he accounted for 23 of our 25 fourth-quarter points. In fact, the only two points for which he were not directly responsible were the final ones of the game, which were Dwight Howard's clinching free-throws. Here's the boxscore, and here's the fourth-quarter play-by-play.
It's hard to feel great about this victory, though. The Clippers showed spirit, and I give them a ton of credit for fighting despite never leading in the game, but we really should have run them out of the gym tonight. The only thing that kept the Clippers in it was their ability to convert at the foul line. They had 7 more attempts than we did, which isn't such a huge disparity. However, they also had nine more makes at the stripe than we did. Their FT rate (FTM/FGA) was a whopping 41.3% to our 26.8%.
But I'll take that disparity every time, provided that we counter with three-pointers: 9 makes for us compared to just 3 for them. A +18 differential in a game we only won by 7 is definitely key. Of course, you know what they say about teams that live by the three...
I'd like to commend Rashard Lewis for stringing together two strong games in a row, and Jameer Nelson for playing the way he's supposed to play (14 points, 9 assists). And, as I mentioned in the halftime update, Mo Evans and Keyon Dooling were also tremendous. Good job, guys.
Not-so-good-job, Dwight Howard. In the fourth quarter, he missed a dunk, missed a layup, had another layup block by Chris Kaman, goaltended a Corey Maggette layup that probably wouldn't have gone in, got called for an illegal defense, AND got called for a technical foul. Dwight, dude. You're an All-Star. You're arguably the best center in the game. Don't worry about some calls and non-calls not going your way. Wake up, shut up, and play. Your team needed you to come up bigger than you did in the fourth quarter.
Aside: I just imagined myself saying that last bit to Dwight's face. My life flashed before my eyes.
Anyway, I'm off to email Henry Abbott to see what he knows about fourth-quarter productivity. Also, I have to work tomorrow. So there's the whole sleeping thing to get to.
All in all, a good win for us -- our first in 2008! -- but it certainly could have been much better.