The Orlando Magic returned to Amway arena for the first time since October 9th to play host to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. The Magic came away with a 30-point victory to improve to 7-0 in the preseason.
Orlando started Matt Barnes at Power Forward because Head Coach Stan Van Gundy wanted to get a look at him there in case Barnes needs to play the position while Rashard Lewis is out during his 10-game suspension to start the season.
The Magic got off to an excellent start defensively, holding the Pacers to just 16 points in the first quarter and ended the period with a seven-point lead.
Orlando wound up dominating the second half offensively, out-scoring the Pacers 72-48.
Stan Van Gundy was happy with the defensive effort for what seems like the first time all preseason. The Magic held the Pacers to 39.8% shooting from the field and forced 15 turnovers.
“I thought all night tonight we made a much better effort at the defensive end of the court.”
The Pacers were without Travis Diener, Mike Dunleavy, T.J Ford, Jeff Foster, Tyler Hansbrough, and Luther Head due to various injuries, but Van Gundy was still happy with the team’s effort on defense.
Vince Carter still has not found his shooting stroke, but he is playing better. He seems to be working harder on defense. He is trying to take charges and has been chasing opposing guards all over the court. I’ve been very impressed with Carter’s defensive effort.
Even though Vince was struggling from the field, he still managed to get himself to the free throw line to put points on the board. He finished a perfect 12-of-12 from the line. He heated up a little in the second half, going 3-of-6 from the field and finished with a game-high 21 points.
Dwight Howard had a couple of rim-rattling dunks (including one of a very high alley-oop pass from Jameer Nelson) and finished with 14 points (4-of-8 shooting), but he continues to struggle from the free throw line. He shot just 6-of-16 from the line tonight. This was an area that most, including Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and Howard himself, thought he improved in, but instead, he seems to be growing more and more frustrated at the line.
Marcin Gortat had a very good second quarter on offense but he had some lapses on defense when guarding Pacers’ Center Roy Hibbert during the first half. A couple of Hibbert’s buckets can be credited almost completely to his size when Gortat was defending him well, but there were a few times when he let Hibbert get excellent positioning and get some easy buckets. In the third quarter, Gortat played much better defense on Hibbert. As did Howard. Hibbert was limited to just 6 points in the second half. Gortat finished the game with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Matt Barnes played pretty good all-around basketball while he was in the game. He played some pretty solid defense against a bigger played in Troy Murphy, but Murphy likes to stay on the perimeter so it’s probably not a great gauge of how Bass would defend some bigger players. Van Gundy sounded fairly happy with Barnes’ play, but still thinks the Magic need to improve their defense of Power Forwards.
Jameer Nelson was 0-for-7 in the first half but he really picked it up after the break. He did a very good job of getting to the basket, creating shots for his teammates and knocking down his own open looks from the outside.
Stan Van Gundy thought that Nelson wasn’t the only Point Guard to have a solid game.
“I thought Jameer and Jason were outstanding in the second half. I thought our guards played really well and made the game easier on everybody else.”
Jason Williams had 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting and was 3-of-4 from downtown. He finished the game with 5 assists.
“I think he’s looked better every time out,” Van Gundy told reporters. “His energy’s great. We get up and down the floor when he’s in the game. He’s got a real good feel for the game and he sees some things out there. I think he adds a lot to us.”
Brandon Bass was very effective, as he has been all preseason. He finished the game with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting and had a very good game rebounding the ball. Van Gundy has been calling for Bass to get more rebounds and he must be listening. He finished the game with 9 tonight.
J.J. Redick had a decent game on the defensive end. I’m keep trying to convince myself and anybody who will listen that Redick is going to find his shot, but he still hasn’t been able to do that and it’s looking more and more like that isn’t going to happen.
Ryan Anderson played sparingly and hit a couple of late three-pointers to get on the board, finishing the game with 6 points.
Overall, it was one of the best performances of the preseason for the Magic, but keep in mind it came against an undermanned club.
Danny Granger seemed very impressed with the Magic.
They are a good team. They went to The Finals last year. They have four or five All-Stars, I lose count. They have so many All-Stars on the team. They are a good team and a veteran team. They will probably go far again this year.”
Granger was ineffective and visibly frustrated almost all night. He finished the game with just 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting.
Pacers Guard Brandon Rush, who finished with 14 points, also praised the Magic.
The (Magic) are good. They didn’t even play Rashard Lewis at all tonight and still killed us by 30. They are a team to watch out for and they have key pieces. They can stretch the floor our.”
Pacers Head Coach Jim O’Brien also thinks the Magic are an excellent team.
“They have a lot of weapons and they are very deep. Every guy that comes off the bench, other than Howard and Gortat, can stretch the court. They have veteran players at every position with the exception of Ryan Anderson and even he has had a great preseason.”
Roy Hibbert led the Pacers with 20 points. Troy Murphy had an off night, scoring just 7 points, but he did grab a game-high 15 rebounds.
Relax Magic fans, we don’t have to wait much longer. Just one more preseason game to go. The regular season starts a week from tonight.