Denton: Magic-Bulls Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
January 28, 2011

CHICAGO – All Jay Cutler references aside considering that they were playing in the Windy City, the Orlando Magic looked very much like a team without a quarterback in Friday night’s second-half collapse.

The Magic lost point guard, captain and offense igniter Jameer Nelson early on Friday night because of tendinitis in his right knee and then looked on as everything fell apart on them in the second half of an ugly 99-90 loss to Chicago.

Without Nelson, Orlando (30-17) was impatient offensively, had no production other than superstar center Dwight Howard (a season-high 40 points) and came unglued after leading by five points at the break. Chicago (32-14) doubled up the Magic 34-17 in the third period and shot 50 percent in a 53-point second half.

``We didn’t play any defense. They played offense and we did nothing,’’ Howard said. ``Offensively, we didn’t move the ball, had a lot of one-pass-and-shoot possessions and you just can’t win like that. … We can’t be a championship-contending team playing defense like we did tonight.’’

Nelson called his injury a combination of a knee strain and some lingering tendinitis and hoped that he would be back by Sunday night when the Magic host the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers at Amway Center.

``It’s really tender and there’s a spot that hurts, but I don’t think it’s anything that I should have to worry about,’’ Nelson said. ``I guess it’s just basketball … we run and jump and our knees get sore. It was sore a couple of days ago, but not as sore as it was tonight. I may have made a sudden move and tweaked it a little. I’ll do whatever the trainers tell me to do, get my treatment and hopefully I can play Sunday.’’

Chicago all-star point guard Derrick Rose, back after a bout with two stomach ulcers, had 22 points, 12 assists and six rebounds. And Bulls newcomer Carlos Boozer added 16 points and 16 rebounds. But it was Luol Deng, who scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half, who doomed the Magic.

Even after the Magic trimmed a deficit as big as 13 points to three with 1:28 to play, the Magic allowed Deng to get free under the basket for a layup that all but sealed the game.

``Down the stretch we cut it to three and then we didn’t execute at all. We took a bad shot, had a bad turnover and gave up a layup,’’ fumed Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. ``You cut it to three after the night we were having and we’re on the road and you have a chance and you just have to make some plays. We made two really bad offensive plays and a bad defensive one. So we deserved to lose, no question.

``It was just a poor night all the way around,’’ Van Gundy added.

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from a frustrating Friday night in the Windy City: