Dwight Howard throws down a dunk in the Orlando Magic's 107-91 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
Photo by Fernando Medina, NBAE/Getty Images
There were two big blowouts in the NBA last night: the 76ers crushed the Bucks by 43 points, and the Raptors downed the Wizards by 39. Considering the Magic are more talented than both the 76ers and the Raptors, and considering the Heat dressed only 10 players last night, the Magic should have won by more than 16 points. The game was an anomaly in that it was unsettlingly close before we put it away in the fourth quarter, as you can see in this GameFlow from PopcornMachine. Typically, we'll take a big lead, then give it all back late in the fourth, as we did versus New Jersey and at Charlotte. Oddly enough, those games also took place on Wednesdays. I write this on my brain.
This game illustrates two main points: Hedo Turkoglu is having an amazing season and our point guards are playing pretty terribly.
It's too bad the coaches already turned in their All-Star reserve votes, because Hedo Turkoglu played like an All-Star last night. However, I don't think he stands a chance at making the team. One of the reserve spots went to Joe Johnson (Atlanta Journal Constitution via FanHouse), who is completely undeserving. To be fair, I also left Turkoglu off my hypothetical ballot, but that's only because Josh Smith caught my eye with his incredible defense. He, not Johnson, is the reason Atlanta is in the playoff picture. If Johnson made the team at Turkoglu's expense, it will be a true injustice. Maybe I'm taking this All-Star thing too seriously, but pardon me for wanting players more deserving than Joe Johnson (Jose Calderon, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Turk, Gerald Wallace...) to get the recognition they deserve. I am, quite frankly, disgusted with the coaches' ignorance in this selection.
Something with which I am more disgusted is our point guard play. We're winning in spite of it, not because of it, as some Carlos Arroyo fans would like you to believe. Both he and Jameer Nelson have played terribly lately, which should concern Otis Smith. He says he doesn't want to make any moves before the trade deadline, but if a reasonable offer for a point guard comes along, he might have no choice but to pull the trigger. A title-contending team would probably be happy with either Arroyo or Nelson as its backup point guard, but not at its starter. Every title-contending team gets All-Star-level production from its point guard: Dallas has the one-two punch of Devin Harris and Jason Terry; Detroit has Chauncey Billups; New Orleans has Chris Paul; Phoenix has Steve Nash; Portland has Brandon Roy, who plays point forward; and San Antonio has the flop-happy Tony Parker. The only exception to the rule is Boston, which has three future Hall-of-Famers in its starting lineup. If we're going to contend, we need to upgrade that position. Period. Last night, Jason Williams -- Jason freaking Williams!!! -- had 11 points and 8 assists against us. Darrell Armstrong -- Darrell freaking Armstrong!!! -- came off the bench for the Nets four weeks ago and went absolutely bananas against us. Anthony Carter -- Anthony fre... you get the idea. Run-of-the-mill point guards routinely torch us, and we won't be facing too many of those in the playoffs.
Okay, we won the game. Lovely. But we should have won by a lot more, and there's no reason to think our season is going any better than it was. Yes, I am indeed complaining about playing .617 ball, which is about a 51-win pace. The fact is, we can do better. And I'm not going to be satisfied with anything less than the team's best effort. But hey, at least we've beaten the Heat eight straight times.
If you've ever wanted an up-close view of Brian Cook's quads, you're in luck.