The Magic, especially Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu, are attacking the hoop more often than in recent years.
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That’s a significant jump. Through last season’s first five games, the Magic tried 19.6 shots per game at the rim. Over the entire 2010-11 regular season, the Magic averaged 21.6 attempts at the hoop, which ranked them 26th in the NBA.
“We’re trying to be a little more aggressive,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We’ve always had Dwight [Howard] going to the rim. J.J. [Redick] puts the ball on the floor. I think the two guys, though, that have really tried to put the ball on the floor more and attack are Turk and J-Rich.”
To be sure, the Magic still love the 3-point shot. They tried 25.2 treys per game in their first five matchups.
Still, Richardson has made a conscious effort to mix up his game. The biggest criticism of him after his trade to Orlando last season was that he was too content to launch 3-pointers and too reluctant to attack the basket.
Richardson has changed — at least so far. He has tried 3.8 shots per game at the rim, according to HoopData. After his trade to Orlando last December, he tried just 2.4 shots per game at the hoop.
Van Gundy has faulted himself for not involving Richardson more in the offense in 2010-11. So far this season, Van Gundy has made a point of calling Richardson’s number, especially early in games; in the opening minutes of first quarters, Van Gundy has put Richardson in post-up situations.
Richardson flubbed a dunk midway through the first quarter. The front of the rim essentially blocked the shot.
Turkoglu also has played differently, trying 4.2 shots at the hoop after only trying 1.5 last season.
Again, it’s early to draw definitive conclusions.
But the initial returns are positive for the Magic.
Different 'D'The Raptors had one of the worst defenses in the NBA last season, allowing opponents to make 48.2 percent of their shots.
New coach Dwane Casey is starting to change that.
Toronto had limited opponents to 41.6 percent shooting in its first three games.
"We have to come in now and change the culture and get a defensive mindset," Casey said.
Layups• Jameer Nelson returned to the Magic starting lineup after he missed Friday night's game in Charlotte because of neck spasms.
• Dwight Howard had gathered 24 rebounds in each of his previous two games. The last NBA player to record at least 24 rebounds in three consecutive games was Dennis Rodman, who did it Nov. 9-12, 1993, as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. Rodman averaged 26.0 rebounds per game in those three contests.
• Howard last had three consecutive games of at least 20 rebounds Dec. 18-21, 2010.
• Former Magic point guard Jason Williams attended Sunday's game. He sat with two of his kids near one of the baselines.
• Sunday was the third time the Magic have played on New Year's Day and was the first time they've played at home on the holiday. Orlando went 1-1 in the previous games.
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