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Baseline to Baseline recaps: That new Orlando lineup is growing on us

Dec 31, 2010, 3:33 AM EDT

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What you missed while in shock that the UConn women lost

Magic 112, Knicks 103: More than all the points (although the help), Amar’e Stoudemire has brought a real fighter’s attitude to the Knicks this season. This was a team getting thumped at the half and with a couple runs in the second half made a real game of it — and Stoudemire led the way with 16 in the fourth.

That attitude also was evident in how Stoudemire — with the help of double teams — really battled Dwight Howard inside. The Magic wisely had the game plan of punishing the Knicks inside but Howard started out 2-11 shooting and finished 6-19 on the night. The Knicks fought hard inside.

But Hedo Turkoglu had 17, Gilbert Arenas had 6 assists and there was a diversity of offense that the Magic did not have (or did not display) prior to the trade. The Magic’s offense may well be better with the new lineup, the question is if the defense can perform up to the same standard over the long term? But that’s long term; tonight it was enough and the Magic get a quality win.

Spurs, 99 Maverick 93: For all the talk about the depth of the Mavs, this game was about the Spurs bench. Well, that and Dallas not having Dirk.

San Antonio grabbed a big second quarter lead behind that bench, specifically Gary Neal who was draining threes (3-4 in that stretch, 5-8 from deep on the night). Neal has become another of those Spurs finds who seems to come out of nowhere to contribute (21 points in Dallas).

Then it got tight again later in the second quarter and at the start of the third — when the Dallas starters were back in. Then the benches came back in and more Spurs. When the Spurs needed to settle things down they turned to Tim Duncan — the reports of his basketball death have been greatly exaggerated. He put up 17 and 11.

This game might have been different with Dirk in, as he would have pushed everyone down the depth chart for the Mavs (meaning better players off the Mavs bench). He would have given more help to Jason Kidd, who had his first triple-double of the season. But what might have been doesn’t matter, the Spurs getting another win does.

Trail Blazers 100, Jazz 89: Reports are Jazz players were very frustrated in the locker room after what was a relatively easy Blazers win. The Jazz were flat but people need to remember the Los Angeles to Portland back-to-back is one of the more brutal in the league. By the league’s measurement you never leave the Pacific time zone so it’s not that bad, but we’re talking about playing a game then a two-and-a-half hour flight, then you go into a loud building.

That’s not to take anything away from the Blazers, who executed very well all night. They fed LaMarcus Aldridge all night and he had 27, while Wes Mathews pitched in 30. With all the distractions around the Blazers in the last 24 hours that was a fantastic performance.

  1. atmanne - Dec 31, 2010 at 4:01 AM

    “The Jazz were flat but people need to remember the Los Angeles to Portland back-to-back is one of the more brutal in the league.”

    Right, except the Blazers beat a well rested Jazz team in Utah on Monday.

  2. thestudiokida - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    You don’t become the comeback kids without having some issues; they wouldn’t be falling behind so often if the Jazz didn’t have soft spots.

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