The Dismal Play of Orlando's Big Men in the Fourth Quarter:
When I say big men I use that term rather loosely, not by weight but by height. In this case I define "Big Men" by any group of players listed at 6-10 or taller.
Forwards and centers Hedo Turkoglu (6'10), Rashard Lewis (6'10), Tony Battie (6'11), Marcin Gortat (6'11), and Dwight Howard (6'11) all played in the fourth quarter and combined to shoot a grand total of 5-for-14 from the field and accounted for three turnovers and three of the four Magic
's total team fouls for the final period.
As spectacular as Dwight Howard was throughout three-fourths of the game he crumpled in the closing minutes. A notoriously bad foul-shooter at 59.4 percent during the regular season, Howard missed the first of his two foul-shots but converted on the second attempt. However the damage had already been done.
After Howard sank the latter free-throw the score stood at 96-93 with 1:42 remaining. Had Howard made both foul-shots it would have created a two-possession game and possibly sealed the game for the Magic.
But Dwight misfired on the attempt and the Sixers and Magic traded two-point baskets before reserve three-point specialist Donyell Marshall knocked down the game-tying triple a few feet adjacent from the top of the key and near Orlando Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and the Magic bench with 34 seconds left.
But lets say Dwight made both free-throws, the score would have ultimately ended up at 99-98 Orlando and Philadelphia still would have had to foul to prolong the game.
The Sixers Bench Out-Duels The Second Unit of Orlando and the Magic's Dismal Three-Point Shooting:
Not only did Theo Ratliff provide quality minutes without getting into foul trouble (seven points, three rebounds, two blocked shots) but he also converted on one of the biggest baskets of the game.
With 1:31 remaining and Orlando up one 96-95, Ratliff executed on a crucial dunk that kept Philadelphia within reach on a pass from Andre Iguodala which sailed over Dwight Howard who came over to help on Iguodola as he drove past Hedo Turkoglu over on the right baseline.
In Robert Horry-like fashion, Donyell Marshall who only logged 11 minutes the entire game, re-entered the game with :49 remaining and nailed the game-tying three which knotted the score at 98 and gave the Sixers new hope of an upset down in South Beach where the Magic went 32-9, obtaining the fifth-best home record in the NBA
during the regular season.
Oh and the Sixers reserve crew also out-scored the Magic's reserves 42-13 and also out shot them from three-point land 7-for-9 in comparison to only Anthony Johnson's mark of 1-of-2 for the Orlando bench.
Sharpshooters Mickael Pietrus and JJ Redick failed to attempt a single trey in their 19 minutes of action and the Magic as a whole only connected on 5-of-18 from long-range, not exactly numbers you expect from one of the NBA's premiere teams in terms of three-point shooting.
The Confidence of Andre Iguodala:
After misfiring on a pair of invaluable free-throws that would have gave Philadelphia the lead with 1:07 remaining, Iguodala refused to get down on himself and played tough defense on the other end and denied Rashard Lewis a clean look at the basket on the Magic's next possession.
After Donyell Marshall rewarded the Sixers with a second chance Iguodala made the most of it by wooing Hedo Turkoglu with a series of crossover dribbles a few steps behind the free-throw line before precisely ripping off a draw-back crossover between the back of his legs to halt his movement.
Then he buried a lofty jumper over the 6-10 Turkoglu to give his team the lead and the Game One victory for the Philadelphia Sixers.
He finished with 20 points and contributed eight assists and eight rebounds to balance out his efforts.
The series between the Sixers and the Magic resumes on Wednesday once again at Amway Arena with Philadelphia leading 1-0 in what could be a major problem for the Orlando Magic.