Written by Brian Serra
In a sloppy and mostly uninspiring game, the Orlando Magic defeated the Indiana Pacers 90-86 on Saturday night. It was an ugly game for most the of Magic players, but they were led by Dwight Howard’s 25 point, 12 rebound performance as well as Rashard Lewis’ 21 points.
With the Magic trailing 86-85 with 45 seconds remaining in the game, Jameer Nelson played hero once again dropping in an 11-foot floater from the baseline on a play where he was also fouled. After converting the and-1, the Magic led 88-86 and Indiana couldn’t score again against the Magic defense. Jameer had struggled shooting the ball throughout the game before that play but stepped up at the point when the Magic truly needed a leader. Rashard Lewis started the game 8-8 from the field, including sinking 5 three pointers, before he missed his first shot. He shot the ball with confidence, once he was finally able to touch it, and hopefully he will start to rebound from his recent slump. The team played with low intensity for most of the game, but as they have tended to do recently, they pulled it out in the end.
More thoughts and rambling from tonight’s game after the jump:
- Roy Hibbert played extremely well for the Pacers in the first half, but did virtually nothing in the second. He played Dwight tough in the first and even got him into foul trouble early. He finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
- Defensive intensity, especially in the first half, was rare in this game for the Magic. This has been the story for most of the beginning of the season. They have relied on their talent to beat average teams, but I have severe concerns that they will not be able to just, “turn it on” against the elite teams.
- Dwight Howard picked up his 5th technical foul call in the 1st quarter after accidentally elbowing an out of position Roy Hibbert. It would have been Dwight’s sixth technical, but the league rescinded one of the five he had already been called for.
- At crunch time, the Magic generally put the ball in the hands of Vince Carter. With Vince struggling mightily tonight (offense and defense), the team still put the ball in his hands at the end of the game but ran a motion offense that allowed Jameer to be the second option if Vince didn’t have the angle to the basket Stan was trying to get. Obviously the play worked.
- Quentin Richardson seems to truly have taken on Matt Barnes’ role from last year. He started the game and the 2nd half, yet played only 17 minutes in the game. He led the team in +/- rating tonight with a +12
It’s still tough to get a read on this team, let alone get excited about them. They are making the same mental errors in almost every game and seem to lack a real sense of urgency throughout the games. The strength of this team the last few years has been their team defense, but it has continually been lacking so far with this older and slower Magic team. There is a lot of season left, but it’s hard to not be concerned.
The next game for the Magic is Monday night in San Antonio against the Spurs. Game time is set for 8:30 PM and will be televised locally on FSN Florida and nationally on NBA TV.