The Orlando Magic played their best game of the season on Friday night in a win over the Charlotte Bobcats. After letting the Bobcats hang around for a majority of the game and get within nine points in the fourth quarter, the Magic put the game away for good in the fourth quarter, earning a 100-79 win. Ryan Anderson led the Magic with 23 points while Dwight Howard scored 20 points and grabbed 24 rebounds. Corey Maggette poured in 20 points to lead the Bobcats.
- The Magic looked energized from the start while the Bobcats showed signs of fatigue in the first half. You wouldn’t have thought the Magic were the team traveling on the second night of a back-to-back.
- Ryan Anderson continues to put up big numbers. He scored 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting. He was 5-of-12 from beyond the arc. His scoring numbers are great – and needed – but Anderson continues to show off his all-around game. In this game, we saw Anderson put the ball on the floor and take it all the way to the hoop. He couldn’t finish the play, but you have to like that aggressiveness. He made nice cuts the basket and got an easy dunk on one occasion. Anderson also took a charge in the game. He pulled down 8 boards. He’s scored over 20 points in three of the first four games and is averaging 19.5 points per game. After the game, Howard joked maybe Anderson’s offseason boxing training was the reason for his hot start.
- The Magic were without Jameer Nelson and didn’t get much production from the point guard position. Chris Duhon had 2 points and 6 assists but turned the ball over 3 times and never seemed to be in complete control of the offense. I don’t want to be too hard on Duhon, because he didn’t have a terrible game, but I’m sure the Magic would like to have seen a little more. Larry Hughes hit a big 3-pointer to push Orlando’s lead from 75-66 to 78-66, but for the most part, but that was about it for him. He doesn’t seem suited to be a full-time second-teamer. At times, he had trouble even getting the ball beyond half court with rookie Kemba Walker guarding him.
- With Nelson out, Hedo Turkoglu had to handle the ball more but not as much as most probably expected. Turkoglu moved the ball fairly well despite having just 3 assists. He scored 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting. He just looks more comfortable in the offense this season. He still won’t ever be the Turk of 2009 again, but he certainly looks much better than the Turk of last season.
- J.J. Redick continued his hot start as well. Redick, one of five Magic players in double figures, led the bench mob with 11 points. Redick’s entry passes to Howard are what stood out to me tonight. He does an excellent job of getting the ball down low to Howard in good position. The rest of the team has struggled with that at times.
- Lets get back to Howard. Again, he had a bit of a rough night on the offensive end, shooting just 7-of-16 from the field and 6-of-14 from the free throw line. To be fair, he still finished with 20 points. Plus, he was excellent in almost every other facet of the game. He pulled down 24 rebounds for the second consecutive night, dished out 4 assists and blocked 4 shots.
- Quentin Richardson saw action for the first time since Christmas day. He scored 3 points and grabbed 2 rebounds in 13 minutes.
- Glen Davis was brutal on the offensive end. His shot looked off all game. He finished with just 7 points on 3-of-12 shooting. However, he did grab 5 rebounds and Van Gundy praised the way he defended Charlotte’s pick-and-roll.
- From the other side, I like what I’ve seen from Kemba Walker so far this season. He shot the ball terribly Friday night (1-of-9), but did a lot of other things well. For the most part, he makes good decisions and you have to like the effort he gives on the defensive end. He’s going to have to consistently make jump shots to be the kind of player he wants to be. He hasn’t done that yet, but he appears to have the ability to do so.
Next Up: The Magic will host the Toronto Raptors Sunday evening.
Final Thought: The Magic played their best game yet and have gotten better each night. That’s certainly good to see.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)
Topics: Bismack Biyombo, Boris Diaw, Charlotte Bobcats, Chris Duhon, Corey Maggette, D.J. Augustin, D.J. White, Dwight Howard, Gerald Henderson, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Kemba Walker, Larry Hughes, Orlando Magic, Quentin Richardson, Ryan Anderson