The San Antonio Spurs (10-5) are finally off the schneid. After opening the season with a very strange combination of a perfect record a home and a winless mark on the road, Tony Parker and the Spurs managed to pull out an 85-83 overtime win against the Orlando Magic (10-4). Dwight Howard inflicted severe damage to the Spurs' interior defense in the first half. He posted his double-double early early on in the action, and put up 20 points on 7-12 shooting and grabbed 17 rebounds before the end of the second period. Unfortunately for the Magic, he wilted a bit on the offensive end in the second half, as he only scored four more points the rest of the night. During that same second half and overtime stretch, Tony Parker put up 16 of his game-high 25 points and dropped off four of his nine assists as well.
Some of the decline in scoring in the second half and overtime for Dwight Howard may have been due to Tim Duncan sticking his knee where it doesn't belong while denying Howard premium post position, or at least that's what Howard told an official during the game. Duncan operated with the savvy and wit that fans have come to expect of the future Hall of Famer, and he finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Any way you slice it, Duncan and Parker got the job done as they led the way with a combined 42 points in the victory.
After blowing a 16-point lead to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in a loss on Tuesday night, the Spurs didn't exactly play their best basketball out of the gate. The good news for the Spurs was that the Magic also came out a bit flat in the final game of a back-to-back-to-back. Orlando shot just 33.3 percent on the night (29 of 87 from the field) and the home loss snapped the team's five-winning streak. Neither team could buy a bucket from deep on the night. The Magic shot 4-21 (19.0 percent) from beyond the arc, while the Spurs somehow managed to shoot even worse from long distance by going 2-17 (11.8 percent). Tiago Splitter had some nice moments (10 points and 4 rebounds in almost 18 minutes), but he played only thirteen seconds in the overtime period and generally operated on the periphery of the offense when in the game.
Magic point guard Jameer Nelson had a game he would certainly like to forget. Beyond his brutal 2-16 shooting performance, Nelson had a chance to tie the game on the final play of overtime, but elected not to shoot and forced the team into a three-point look instead. After running pick-and-roll with Howard, Nelson got a defensive switch to create some space between himself and Tim Duncan in the 15-foot range, but Nelson appeared determined not to shoot the ball. Instead he got up in the air and kicked the ball out to Ryan Anderson, who missed the three-pointer to potentially win the game. Howard grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked it back out to J.J. Redick, who pump-faked his defender but then could not get the shot off before the overtime ended (he made the shot).
Perhaps the biggest shot of the night came courtesy of the Spurs' Gary Neal, who bucked the 1-16 team slump from long distance by hitting a three in rhythm to give the the Spurs an 83-80 lead with just under half a minute to go. Still, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan set the example with their crisp execution when it mattered most, and the rest of the San Antonio roster needs to follow suit. The Magic had opportunities to steal the game at the free throw line, but couldn't convert the shots that would have given the team a late lead,.The road does not get any easier for Magic in the near future, as their next three games as against the L.A. Lakers, Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers. The Spurs, meanwhile, get a nice set of games against lesser opponents such as the Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets and New Orleans Hornets. The Magic are now 0-1 in overtime games this season, while the Spurs improve to 2-0 in games that go to the extra period.