I was never, to put it mildly, a natural when it came to math. I vividly remember taking the SAT during my junior year of high school. The verbal sections were fine; I was comfortable; I knew my way around. But the math sections got ugly. I would begin to sweat; my mind would fill with expanding thickets of mostly useless information; the numbers would seem to float off the page. I knew that the problems were mostly tests of insight; and so I also knew that every mark I added to the paper, every tangential path my mind wandered, were taking me farther away from that nexus of intuition and efficiency that was crucial for good performance.
Defending the Orlando Magic is a little bit like that. When their offense is really humming–when the ball is moving inside-out and side-to-side, when they time their screens precisely–it presents the defense with a series of ever more hopeless decisions, each one leading them closer to a doorstep dunk or a wide open three. And then, of course, there is the Superman himself. I will ask you, just once, to recall how disheartening it was to watch Al Jefferson or Mad Dog Madsen or, like, Ryan Hollins try to guard Dwight Howard and consider how his frighteningly athletic presence down low can disfigure a defense and inflict crippling foul trouble. But for a number of reasons–foul trouble of his own, being forced to defend the perimeter, one meaty hunk of Montenegran man–the Wolves were able to limit Howard’s effectiveness on Monday.