During his interview on the way to the locker room at the half, Magic forward Ryan Anderson said something to the effect of "They're running up and down the court out there with some kind of playground ball. It took us a while to adjust to that." Adjust they did and they ran away with the game by winning nearly every conceivable aspect of the tilt.
Free throws, shooting, and rebounding. I don't have the advanced box score but I'm willing to place large amounts of money on the Magic coming out on top with things like fast break points, points in the paint, altered shots, and just about anything else you can think of.
What is especially notable about last night's game is that the Wolves didn't play completely terrible (a'la the 2nd quarter against Charlotte), they were simply outclassed by a massively superior opponent.
Orlando is about a player or two away from my idea of a perfect basketball team. Were it not for Jameer Nelson screwing up the whole "let's start everyone 6'6" and above" thing, I think they'd have it. They rely on length and athleticism at 4 of their 5 positions and they shoot a TON of threes. Their bench players are highly specialized and effective. They are almost everything the Wolves are not. Then again, so is Kentucky...soooooo...
As you can probably tell, there really wasn't a whole lot to write about last night. I'm honestly more interested about watching Kentucky take on West Virginia than I have been in any Wolves game all season. Kentucky is as close to a pro team as I think I've seen in college ball since the Fab 5. Lots of college teams have had 2 or 3 pro prospects. It's a rarer beast that plays like a pro team and has the role players to fill in the gaps. John Calipari really seems to have this one-and-done thing down to a science. He runs an offense that caters to pro talent and he attracts amazingly talented players with equally amazing length and athleticism. While I think the Wolves would destroy them, I honestly believe that Kentucky has more pro potential than Our Beloved Puppies. I would rather have John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, and Eric Bledsoe on the roster than Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer, Al Jefferson, and Kevin Love. How crazy is that? I wouldn't even think twice about it if it were offered. Kentucky is (more than) properly proportioned and athletic. The Wolves, not so much.
Getting back to the game, the Wolves were able to get the game somewhat close at the end of the 3rd but they were quickly done in at the start of the 4th by the deadly (to the Wolves) duo of JJ Redick and Ryan Anderson. The pair scored 18 points in the quarter with 4-8 shooting from beyond the arc.
- Orlando Magic announcer Matt Goukas (who used to do games back on NBC) reallllly clowned on Jonny Flynn all night long. Here are a few samples of his work: "He's got a bad case of the dribbles." "He really dribbles the clock out." And my favorite, "If he gets paid by the dribble tonight, he'll be making a lot of money." Goukas even went in depth between the 3rd and 4th quarters when he said that the Wolves were much better off with Ramon Sessions in the game than they were with "the little guy who has been the lead guard all his life who hasn't been aware of the clock, the score, his teammates...who is just out there to score." Can Papa Glen hire Matt Goukas for GM? This comment was right in the middle of one of the most amazing Flynn stretches of the year, where he went 1-on-1 right in front of the Wolves bench with all sorts of dribbling right after a few consecutive possessions where he tried to drill the ball into the floor. Awful. I'm not saying a single bad thing about another non-Hollins frontcourt player for the rest of the year. This team is done in because it doesn't have a legit 2/3 and it gives the majority of its minutes at the 1 to the wrong point guard. It's obscene.
- The Magic bench destroyed the Wolves bench. Kevin Love was the only bench player with a pulse.
- Corey Brewer has really improved his handle this year. He was running some 2 man action with Darko in the 4th where he actually looked like a legit NBA ball handler. Here's hoping that his hard off season work rubs off on the rest of the team.
- Speaking of Corey, I thought this little stretch of action nicely explained why the Wolves defense is so colossally awful. On the 1st Magic three attempt of the 4th quarter, Brewer made a nice defensive play on JJ Redick to challenge his shot. Upon the ball leaving Redick's hand, Brewer took off in transition. Unfortunately, the rebound came right to Redick and he nailed an open corner 3. On the next position he went to help on the boards (because of some lack of basic rebounding skills by his teammates on the previous possession) and left Redick all open. On the next possession Marcin Gortat came out to set a screen on Brewer, which opened up Redick for a wide open shot. What was remarkable about this play was that Gortat's "defender" Ryan Hollins was a good 15 feet away from his man. Seriously. It was the most ridiculous big man "defense" i have ever seen in my life and Hollins quickly made his way back to the bench. It was comical. Hollins even pointed out at Brewer for him to pick up his man. Problem is, Brewer was a) already guarding someone and b) the guy the Magic were running a pick and roll on and...well, I never want to see Ryan Hollins on a basketball court again. He then proceeded to throw up a knuckle ball jump shot on the other end of the court before taking a seat. This was a legit Johnny Mac "you can't be serious" moment. It was something that you would expect to see from a team of 7th graders.
- Some other defensive FAILs from later on in the game: Jonny Flynn retreating to a general area on the court (hello zone!) rather than pick up the greasy Dookie who had been streaking to the exact same spot on the floor all night long. Al Jefferson standing directly under the basket on a Vince Carter drive to the hoop which caused Corey Brewer to collapse from the weak side to provide real help, leaving his man wide open in the corner. Whoops, Al didn't do anything wrong. Wolves front court players are not the problem.
- Al Jefferson scored 18 points on 16 shots. Dwight Howard scored 24 points on 7 shots. Gotta love the free throws. Al got to the line a grand total of zero times. He has to do a better job of getting contact, especially against a guy like Howard.
- Marcin Gortat tried to clown the Wolves for a 3 with about 20 seconds to go. Someone should have fouled the hell out of him....5 seconds after he released his shot.