This has been such a strange, roller-coaster season for the Orlando Magic that what occurred Monday night seemed almost out of place.
They cut down on their turnovers, generated balanced scoring and received a boost from their bench to cruise to a simple, almost drama-free 102-89 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Amway Center.
“It was a great team win,” said Jason Richardson who scored a team-high 17 points in just 23 minutes of playing time. “We had everybody step up tonight. We did a lot of things right. During the season, a win is always a win.”
Months from now, the victory probably won’t stick out in anyone’s minds.
That’s not a bad thing, especially when you consider that the Magic (18-11) already have endured enough excitement over the last two months or so to last an entire season.
A training camp that practically began with the sudden retirement of their chief executive officer also included a trade request by their franchise player, and the superstar’s long-term future still hasn’t been resolved. And, after a strong start to the season, the team went into a mystifying funk that included two bitter losses to the Boston Celtics.
The team seems to be snapping out of it now. The Magic have won six of their last eight games, with the two losses coming in overtime.
“Every team goes through those rough patches in the season,” Dwight Howard said. “It happens. We just fought our way through it.”
Monday’s win was a solid, workmanlike performance even though Howard flirted with foul trouble from the middle of the first quarter onward.
Five Orlando players in addition to Richardson scored in double figures, including Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu, who chipped in with 14 points apiece.
Earl Clark came off the bench to provide one of the most energetic performances of his Magic tenure, scoring eight points, grabbing five rebounds and blocking two shots.
The team produced just nine turnovers, five of them by Turkoglu.
“Our problem is we’re not making 2-point shots,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We’re making 3-point shots, enough of ’em, but we’re not making 2-point shots. It’s a real struggle right now, but when you only turn it over nine times, then it gives you a chance.”
The Timberwolves (13-16) gave the ball away 18 times, leading to 17 Magic points.
“Everybody, including myself, needs to step up,” said Minnesota’s top player, power forward Kevin Love. “Coach Adelman and the coaching staff can only do so much.”
Love scored 19 points and hauled in 15 rebounds, both game highs, but they weren’t enough to stop Minnesota from losing its fourth consecutive game.
There were few highlight-reel moments, except for Clark’s putback dunk off a Glen Davis miss early in the second quarter that seemed to ignite their teammates.
Davis struggled all night, going one for 10 from the field.
As his errant shooting continued, the announced crowd of 18,846 rained down more and more boos.
Little did the fans know that Davis’ biological father, whom Davis did not know well, died suddenly on Sunday in Louisiana.
Van Gundy referred to Davis’ loss after the game.
“Quite honestly, the fact that he decided to go out there tonight and give us those minutes is pretty damn good for what he’s got going on,” Van Gundy said. “So I think it was a tough night for him to really focus in. I don’t think he should be judged at all on what happened tonight.
“The only reason I’m bringing it up is people need to give him a break right now. What he’s going through right now isn’t an easy thing.”
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