Magic (117) – Warriors (109)
Dwight Howard broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record of free throws in a game without actually trying. The “hack-a-Shaq” routine became common throughout the league, once it was widely known that Shaq couldn’t be relied on in the end to make free throws to seal the deal. Howard, similarly has this same reputation. Though he connected on 21 of 39 free throws, his free throws are usually up and down depending on the game. Lucky for the Magic, he was on last night. As for the night, Howard finished the night with 45 points and 23 rebounds. Hedo Turkoglu was only a side show, as he contributed with 20 points and nine assists.
Mark Jackson used an interesting technique that has yet to be seen this season. Although, Jackson is a little short handed of late. Starters Stephen Curry, who missed his fourth straight game, and Dorell Wright, who has some type of injury to the knee, both were unavailable. Kwame Brown, is also out for at least three months with a torn pectoral muscle.
Warrior starters Monta Ellis and David Lee both gave double double efforts. Ellis finished with 30 points and 11 assists and Lee added 26 points and 12 boards. Coming off the bench, Nate Robinson and Klay Thompson each flushed 14 points.
But it wasn’t enough to stop Howard. He still managed 24 points without the foul shot and the game got boring for both fans and the players (minus Howard, who was shooting up a storm).
“I can understand people thinking, `Why?’ But don’t get caught up in the free throws,” Jackson said. “Think about when we didn’t foul him. It was dunks, hooks, at the rim. He’s a great player. And he’s a bad free throw shooter. Giving ourselves the best chance possible, we tried to mess up their rhythm, take their 3-point shooters out of it, which we did. They made plays.”
In a sense the Warriors just did that. Overall as a team, the Warriors outshot the Magic by 14 shots and shot over 50% from the field. They were even in the three point department, essentially eliminating that stat. They also have the same amount of assists, but the Warriors had 11 less fast break points. Going against a notoriously known shot blocker, the best way to score is on fast break, not giving the Magic a chance to set up their defense. Which is what the Magic was able to do with all the free throws. Color commentator, Steve Kerr, noted that while it the “hack-a-Shaq” technique might give the Warriors a better chance to win, it also eliminates their fast break since the Warriors would be unable to get going after the free throws. But it was a decent idea, since Howard dominated any defender that was in sight (did you see Ekpe Udoh get bounced?!?!)
For the Warriors, it is a quick turn around as they are flying to Charlotte for the first set of back to back nights. It will be good to get the road trip off to a good start by beating the Bobcats.
* Source: ESPN