Winning on the road for the second consecutive night, down 5 players, including 4 of their top 8 (Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, and Mickael Pietrus) and arguably their 2 best players (Howard, Nelson) was a tall order for the Orlando Magic. The Magic fought hard but couldn’t overcome all of their troubles to beat one of the league’s better defensive teams Saturday night. The Magic were able to cut the lead to 6 in the fourth quarter but couldn’t get any closer. Center Andrew Bogut returned to the Bucks and was fantastic, scoring 31 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. Vince Carter led the Magic with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
- Marcin Gortat is considered one of the league’s best backup centers, but he was absolutely no match for Andrew Bogut. Sure, he grabbed 10 rebounds but he scored just 2 points on 4 shots and couldn’t stop Bogut. Bogut scored 31 points on 13-of-20 shooting and pulled down 18 boards. Bogut wasn’t perfect though – he was awful from the free throw line and Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy even employed a strategy of fouling Bogut in the fourth quarter (or Hack-A-Bogut if you’d like). The big man finished just 5-of-16 from the charity stripe.
- The Bucks’ defense was great. They allowed the Magic to post an effective field goal percentage of 45.1%. Despite a couple of key 3-pointers from Quentin Richardson and Jason Williams, the Magic were just 6-of-22 from beyond the arc.
- For the second straight night, it was on Vince Carter to get the offense going and although he was seemingly able to get to the rim whenever he wanted, he couldn’t do it. On the outside, his numbers look good – 20 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists – but it was far from his best game. He didn’t do nearly as good of a job setting up his teammates as the night before and took it him 21 shots to score those 20 points. Carter’s been pretty efficient this season but Saturday was not one of his better nights.
- Rashard Lewis was just about as bad from the field – he scored 13 points on 17 shots and was 1-of-7 on 3-point attempts. Lewis did grab 7 rebounds, but he has to step up his game, especially in situations like this.
- For the second time this season, Stan Van Gundy chose to close out a game with Jason Williams rather than the ineffective Chris Duhon. Duhon was a little more aggressive, scoring 9 points on 7 shots but Jason Williams provided some instant offense, going 3-of-3 from the field, with all 3 shots coming from beyond the arc.
- A day after missing just one shot and scoring a career-high 27 points, Brandon Bass went 5-of-13 from the field and finished with just 12 points.
- The Magic didn’t shoot well but a lot of credit has to be given the Bucks’ defense, they were absolutely fantastic.
- The Bucks also dominated the glass, grabbing 54 rebounds to Orlando’s 38.
- We mentioned Brandon Jennings was the player to watch for the Bucks. In retrospect, it should have been Bogut but Jennings had big game as well. The second year point guard scored 27 points on 20 shots, grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out 6 assists while turning the ball over just once.
Next Up: The Magic will host the Atlanta Hawks Monday night.
Final Thought: The Magic fought hard, but expecting them to win on the second night of a back-to-back with just 8 starters against a playoff team that plays great defense. was a little far-fetched
(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).