On Friday night, the Orlando Magic were defeated by the Chicago Bulls 97-83.
Once down 62-48 in the third quarter, the Magic started a rally to get back into the game with three straight 3-pointers. And Orlando worked hard to stay close throughout the fourth quarter, getting to within 80-77 on a spin move inside by Howard with 6:11 to play.
But that’s when the bottom fell out for the Magic. Korver hit a 3-pointer, Rose got the rim and made two free throws and Deng got another free throw by rebounding his own missed shot. By the time the 17-3 run was over, the sold-out Amway Center started emptying.
Van Gundy said three factors led to Orlando’s defeat: rebounding, turnovers, and ball movement. He said the last point is one he’s discussed with his coaching staff prior to Friday, but will begin to address with the team soon. Orlando came out with plenty of energy and moved the ball well, creating open looks on the weak side and forcing the Bulls to rotate. The energy wore thin, though, and Orlando’s offense ground to a halt as players started looking for their own shot.
The team is constructed around 5 starting players who all excel with the ball in their hands. When that doesn’t happen, they seem to fall off. It’s getting that little bit extra on the defensive end. It’s diving for that loose ball. It’s boxing out every possession.
But let’s give some credit to the Bulls and their outstanding defense. They are a REALLY well coached team and it shows in their discipline. Their discipline and tenacity is what makes them great and separates them from being an above average team like Orlando.
Stan Van Gundy noted after the game that the team has a lot of scorers but does not necessarily have the players that don’t need shots to be effective. With so many scorers the ball sticks and the offense bogs down. Dwight Howard, who scored 28 points once again, had a big game but he was crowded and harried for much of the game as the Bulls swarmed and recovered off of him. The Bulls’ length closed down the outside shot for much of the game as the Magic shot 7 for 20 from beyond the arc. They seemed to only make shots when they needed one to get back into the game, but never to take the lead.
Nelson scored nine points and added just two assists as he committed three turnovers. Hedo Turkoglu scored 12 points and added three assists, but Deng often blew past him with ease. And Redick went 0 for 4 with just one point in 22-plus minutes.
“This isn’t crying or being negative, it’s just a fact: We’re not at that level right now,” Van Gundy said. “If we want to get to that level, which I think we do, then we’ve got a hell of a lot of work to put in and a great deal of focus to put into it.
(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: C.j. Watson, Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls, Chris Duhon, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Joakim Noah, Larry Hughes, Luol Deng, Omer Asik, Orlando Magic, Otis Smith, Quentin Richardson, Richardson Hamilton, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Taj Gibson, Von Wafer