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Orlando Magic 110, Golden State Warriors 90

Hedo Turkoglu's triple-double and Dwight Howard's brilliance on both ends of the court led the Orlando Magic to a 110-90 victory over the Golden State Warriors Monday night. Turkoglu stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, 14 boards, 10 assists, and 5 steals, more than making up for his numerous defensive lapses against Golden State forward Dorell Wright. Meanwhile, when Howard wasn't getting caught in the lane for three-second violations, he otherwise punished a shorthanded Warriors squad missing big men Andris Biedrins and David Lee. He scored a game-best 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go with 17 rebounds. Credit Golden State for aggressively pestering him with double-teams on his post catches, but given the ball in the paint on the move or after an offensive board, he was unstoppable. Jameer Nelson led a third-quarter barrage of three-pointers, draining three treys in the period to lead Orlando out of a deficit that reached 11 points in the first half and stood at 9 at intermission.

This game must've looked pretty familiar to Magic fans who've followed the team for the last three seasons, as Orlando came out flat against an inferior foe, only to make some big three-pointers in the second half to pull away for a big victory that belies how poorly it played for much of the game. Orlando played dismally at both ends of the court for the first 24 minutes, surrendering far too many easy baskets to the Warriors at one end and letting the ball stagnate on the other. Even without Biedrins and Lee, Golden State wound up winning the rebounding battle, 43-42, which Orlando should not have let happen.

And not to take anything away from the Magic, who limited a once on-fire Warriors team to 38 second-half points, but this sort of performance won't get the job done against the league's elite teams. Orlando's at a point in its season where it needs to see some sort of improvement, at least defensively, from game to game, and it didn't get that tonight. It'd be unfair to call a 20-point home victory against a high-powered offensive team a step backward, but let's not allow the multiple bright spots in the second half blind us to the multiple shortcomings in the first.

Team Pace Efficiency eFG% FT Rate OReb% TO Rate
Warriors 96 94.0 45.5% 11.4 28.3 19.8
Magic 94 116.9 59.1% 24.7 23.1 20.2
Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.

We should start with Wright, who made Turkoglu pay for leaving him open time and again in the first half. Paul Kennedy reported on the Sun Sports telecast coach Stan Van Gundy singled Turkoglu out during one first-half huddle, urging him to pay more attention to the Warriors' seventh-year scoring forward. Turkoglu routinely got caught helping too far off his assignment, due at least in part to Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry getting by the Magic's guards. Wright gave Ellis and Curry an open kick-out target. Rookie big man Epke Udoh and veteran energy guy Lou Amundson also availed themselves as roll men in these situations. The object of any team's defense is to take away its opponent's offensive options; for much of the first half, the Magic took nothing away, leaving Golden State free to create almost at will.

Van Gundy made the proper adjustments, in terms of Xs-and-Os and motivation, in the locker room, and his team responded. Even without the rash of triples, the Magic could have gutted out this victory on the strength of their defense after intermission. Save for the briefest of scoring flurries from Ellis in the third quarter, the Warriors struggled to generate offense. Howard at least made Golden State's scoring opportunties in the lane more difficult, Orlando's perimeter defenders ran the Warriors off the shots they wanted, the team's pick-and-roll coverage improved... that much was encouraging. It just needn't have taken a lax first half to get this team in gear.

The Magic's bench proved key in this win once again, outshining the starters and providing at least more fodder for discussion about Van Gundy's starting group going forward. Orlando once again trailed after the first period and lacked energy, which Gilbert Arenas, J.J. Redick, and Ryan Anderson took care of in a major way throughout the game. Those three combined for 37 points and 7 three-pointers. I'm wondering if moving Anderson to a unit with Turkoglu, either by moving Turkoglu to the bench or Anderson to the starting five, would make better use of Turkoglu's gifts as a passer and playmaker. The Magic's NBA Finalist team in 2009 had the option of running pick-and-pops with Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, for example, and I don't see why Anderson can't prove just as effective as Lewis in those situations, if given the chance.

Magic forward Quentin Richardson played the final minute of the first half, earning a one trillion. When the Magic tip off against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, Richardson will have gone over a month without making a three-point basket.