The state of New Jersey tried its best to contain the Magic on Monday night, but as usual they failed in the end. The Magic overcame a sloppy first 20 minutes and went on to defeat the New Jersey Nets by a score of 104-88.
The day started with the Magic team bus getting stranded in the snow on the way to the game. The team was forced to switch over to a reserve bus just to get to the game tonight. I am told through my meteorologist sources, that driving through several feet of snow is a bad idea but apparently that memo was not passed onto the bus drivers.
Hedo Turkoglu led a balanced scoring attack for the Magic with 20 points and Dwight Howard put in 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.
Dwight would get into early foul trouble, including an erroneous technical foul (number 11), and would be limited to only 2 points in12 first half minutes. Throughout the first quarter, the team was once again struggling to get their entry passes to Dwight and the offense suffered because of it. In the second half Dwight came out much more aggressive with the ball and was rewarded with 13 free throw attempts (9-13) for his efforts. He played intimidating defense in the second half and really helped swing the momentum with his ability to control the lane and start fast breaks. Dwight finished the game with 6 blocks.
The Magic have a lot to still work on but are continuing to improve as a new unit. The defensive intensity and rotations specifically are showing marked improvement. However, on offense, they must start being more aggressive off the dribble, especially from the point guard position and create opportunities for easy points (fast break or free throws).
It’s easy to nit pick this victory, but the team still came through and won convincingly. It would have been easy for the team to drop its guard after beating the Spurs and Celtics or from being literally stranded in the snow, but they persevered. These are all good things and because of the rapid improvement the team is showing, I know many more positive outcomes lie ahead.
Up next for the Magic are the Cleveland Quitnesses tomorrow night in Cleveland. Game time is set for 7pm and will be televised locally on FS Florida.
Brian Serra is a Recap Specialist for Howard the Dunk and the founder of MagicBasketballOnline.com. You can follow/add him on Twitter and on Facebook. Compare pricing and find the cheapest tickets for all future Orlando Magic games using TiqIQ technology. Buy smarter!