Dwight Howard loses control of the ball in the Magic's 104-95 defeat at the hands of the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night. "Superman" was responsible for 4 of the team's 20 miscues on the evening.
Photo by Phelan M. Ebanhack, the Associated Press
I guess it's a good thing we're setting the clocks forward tonight. It puts this loss that much further behind us.
There isn't much to say about tonight's game apart from the following: Golden State wanted it more than we did. The Warriors were playing their fourth game in five nights, and we were coming off a nice two-day break. You would have thought the roles were reversed given our poor effort this evening.
At halftime, we lead by a score of 55-47. A graphic on the
Jumbotron "Magic Vision" showed each team had 7 fast break points. By game's end, Golden State had bumped its total to 27 fast break points, while we remained stuck on 7. They forced us to commit 20 turnovers by playing the passing lanes well -- they guessed correctly each time they gambled, it seemed -- and by swatting at the ball whenever anyone took it to the basket. The officiating crew of Ken Mauer, Brian Forte, and Pat Fraher was content to let plenty of contact go uncalled, which benefitted Golden State. I'm not saying the referees were biased toward the Warriors; rather, I'm saying the Warriors took advantage of the physicality the officials allowed, whereas the Magic played their usual soft, uninspired, hands-off defense. Still, because the Warriors were so cold (38-of-94) from the field, we held them to a pedestrian offensive rating of 102.
And that's what's so frustrating. Any time a team holds Golden State to such a low total, at home, on two days of rest, it should expect to win. However, any team that turns the ball over 20 times and lets its opponent hold a plus-19 edge in field goal attempts, it should expect to lose and get booed, which is exactly what happened. It seemed to me that there were at least 5 or 6 times when one of our guys merely had to reach out and grab a Golden State miss for an easy rebound and fast-break opportunity, only to let a Warrior race in at the last second and snatch it from them. That laziness cannot be tolerated.
As much as I'd like to say this game doesn't matter in the Grand Scheme of Things, the fact is it does. Sure, it's our final meeting with Golden State this season (unless we meet them in the Finals. HAH!) but the fact that we turned an eight-point lead into a nine-point deficit in the span of one [third] quarter [collapse] is cause for concern. Golden State played with the sort of energy and heart we can expect to see in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and if we continue to take entire quarters and halves off then, as we did tonight, our championship run will end before it really begins.
Uh, I feel obligated to say something positive, so here it is: Rashard Lewis looked sharp tonight. The 4 turnovers certainly hurt our cause, but he showed an increased willingness to take the ball to the basket, which is nice. He didn't take any bad shots; they were all good looks, but some of them rimmed-out. I loved seeing him post-up Stephen Jackson, an excellent defender, and routinely fake him out of his sneakers with crafty up-and-under moves. Let's hope he does that more often.
Final thought: Put the Warriors' Mickael Pietrus on the shortlist for free agency targets this summer, especially if we're foolish enough to let both Keyon Dooling and Maurice Evans get away. The 6-6 swingman is unhappy with his role in Golden State and would really fit in well here, especially with his strong defense and three-point shooting skills. He's only 26, and although he shot poorly (4-of-11) this evening, he still contributed 11 boards, 4 of them on the offensive glass. Daddy like.