The Golden State Warriors' efforts to foul the Orlando Magic into submission failed Thursday night, as Dwight Howard absorbed the Warriors' beating en rout to a 45-point, 23-rebound performance in which he broke Wilt Chamberlain's regular-season record for free-throw attempts in a game, with 39. Hedo Turkoglu performed brilliantly in a supporting role, attacking the Warriors' defense with aggressive dribble penetration on his way to scoring 20, dishing a team-best nine assists, and committing only one turnover.
Orlando withstood a fine offensive perofrmance from Golden State, whose speedy off-guard duo of Monta Ellis and Nate Robinson torched Orlando's slow wing defenders and helped generate scoring opportunities for themselves as well as for big man David Lee (26 points) and shooting specialist Klay Thompson (14 points, 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc).
First-year coach Mark Jackson knew he had no chance to contain Howard playing traditional defense; single-covering him won't work, given the Warriors' lack of muscle inside, and he didn't want to risk doubling him up to free the Magic's outside shooters.
So Jackson fouled him, early and often; we ought to have gotten an indication how the night would proceed when he ordered rookie Jeremy Tyler to foul Howard away from the ball with eight seconds remaining in the first quarter. Howard took 39 of the game's 76 foul shots, and the game lasted 2:38 from tip to horn.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's 2010/11 average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's 2010/11 average.
All things considered, this win is pretty impressive. On top of Howard's dominant performance--in addition to his foul shots, he converted a season-best 12 field goals--Orlando beat an athletic team in a fast-paced game on the second night of a back-to-back following a hard-fought win. It also took care of the ball, not always something it does well, with turnovers on only 10.5 percent of its possessions.
Yes, perimeter defense is a problem, but in some respects, there's only so much one can do when Ellis decides to pull up from 20 feet. He scored 30, sure, but a bigger issue is his 11 assists, mostly off dribble penetration.
Early on, this game had the makings of a Warriors rout, as Golden State raced to a 9-0 lead after just over two minutes. The game turned in the closing minutes of the second quarter; after falling behind by 13, the Magic rallied to within four to close the first half as they turned up the defensive pressure and began to get the ball moving at the offensive end.
Credit Orlando for pulling out a come-from-behind win in a truly hostile environment; the Oracle Arena crowd is arguably the league's best, and Ellis gave it plenty to cheer about. Howard willed Orlando to victory, though, but the Warriors helped make that choice for him.
The biggest play of the game came with the score knotted at 109 and Orlando in possession. Turkoglu took one of his patented step-back threes, but missed the mark. Howard, however, got inside position on Lee and corraled the offensive board. Lee had no choice but to give the foul, but Howard converted the layup. The foul was Lee's sixth, Howard made the free throw, and left the Warriors with no real bigs. Ellis missed a deep three on Golden State's ensuing possession. Von Wafer sealed the game with a triple on Orlando's trip--off a Howard assit, naturally--and Howard stole the Warriors' final meaningful inbounds pass.
Jason Richardson left the game in the first half with a sprained knee after a collision with Lee, which means Wafer and J.J. Redick will see larger roles going forward.