Up until the fourth quarter, the Orlando Magic were absolutely fantastic against the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night. They played excellent defense throughout the night and dominated the boards. The domination showed on the scoreboard as the Magic earned a 107-78 victory. Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy was worried about the Magic’s habit of getting off to slow starts and their inability to get it going on both the offensive and defensive end at the same time but they certainly didn’t have that problem Wednesday night.
- The story of the game for the Magic offense was the fantastic play they got from their guards. Their numbers tailed off in the second half with the game mostly in hand but both Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter basically did whatever they wanted. Carter scored 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting and had some impressive hustle plays, including four offensive rebounds. Carter also had a vintage “Vinsanity” play when he drove baseline, went under the hoop and slammed it home on the other side. Carter took a lot more shots Wednesday night than he has of late but his shot selection has been much better this season and he is playing a much more efficient all-around game.
- Jameer Nelson was even better. He’s been playing at an all-star level all season and had one of his best games of the year against Chicago. Nelson scored 24 points on only 11 shots, was 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, dished out 9 assists, grabbed 4 rebounds and had 2 steals. On the other end, Bulls’ point guard Derrick Rose, who’s scoring has been one of the early stories of the young season, was held to 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting. I know with guys like Rose, Rajon Rondo and others having excellent seasons, it may be hard for Nelson to be chosen for the All-Star game but if he continues to play at this level, he deserves it.
- It wasn’t just those two. It appeared as if anyone could attack the basket. Brandon Bass, who scored 17 points on just 8 shots off of the bench, made a beautiful move to finish a play with a powerful dunk.
- Orlando absolutely dominated the boards, grabbing 44 to Chicago’s 21. In fact, Orlando had as many offensive rebounds as Chicago did defensive rebounds (14). Joakim Noah, who entered the game averaging 13.2 boards per game, was abused by Dwight Howard and finished without a rebound on the night. Howard had a couple of brilliant moves early but had a tough night overall on the offensive end, scoring just 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting. He did, however, grab 12 rebounds.
- Despite winning by 29 points, it wasn’t a perfect night. They still have a big turnover issue and gave the ball away 19 times.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, co-host of CB Sports Radio from 5-7 pm week days (1420sports.com) and ESPN 1080’s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).