Denton: Magic-Bobcats Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
February 27, 2011


ORLANDO – Winners of late against some of the NBA’s better teams as in the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Orlando Magic proved on Sunday that they can in fact also whip a mediocre squad such as the Charlotte Bobcats.

That was somewhat in question following disappointing recent home losses to Sacramento and New Orleans, one that left shooting guard J.J. Redick describing the Magic as ``manic-depressive.’’ But that’s not something the Magic will have to worry about in the week ahead with showdowns looming against the Knicks, Heat and Bulls.

The Magic used an 18th straight double-double from Dwight Howard, 26 assists and a shooting revival from reserve point guard Gilbert Arenas in a workmanlike 100-86 whipping of the Bobcats Sunday night at the Amway Center.

``We showed we can come off a big win and play well,’’ said Redick, referring to Friday’s defeat of the Thunder. ``Hopefully now we will become more consistent and in this next stretch of games show where we stand in early March. I’m really excited about it.’’

The Magic (38-22) have now beaten their Southeastern Division rivals 13 of the last 14 meetings, including last spring’s four-game playoff sweep. The Bobcats’ lone victory against the Magic was a shocker in Orlando last March.

Brandon Bass had 17 points, while Arenas scored 16 points and made four of six 3-pointers. Point guard Jameer Nelson was attacking early on in the pick-and-roll and had a solid game with 13 points and seven assists.

``It’s difficult to beat us when we’re moving the ball around,’’ said Jason Richardson, who chipped in 11 points, six rebounds and three assists and made the 5,000th field goal of his career. ``We’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot and we’re trying to really share the ball. (The 26 assists) show how unselfish we are as a team.’’

By comparison, Charlotte (26-33) had just 14 assists – one less than the Magic had in the first half of the game. Stephen Jackson scored 35 points on 13 of 22 shooting, but most of it came off of one-on-one sets. Even with Jackson’s scoring outburst, the Bobcats were a minus-13 in the small forward’s 39 minutes on the floor.

Now, with Charlotte out of the way, the Magic have a three-game test against New York, Miami and Chicago. Orlando is 1-0 against the Knicks, 1-2 against the Heat and 1-1 versus the Bulls.

``We’re talented enough to beat anybody,’’ Howard said. ``We’re equipped, like coach (Stan Van Gundy) said, to win a championship. We just have to continue to play hard and be consistent with what we do. That’s the only way we’re going to get where we’re trying to get to.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Sunday’s victory at the Amway Center:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • Arenas entered the game riding an unsightly streak of 18 consecutive misses from beyond the 3-point stripe, but he made his first try to start the second quarter Sunday night. Arenas shot the ball with confidence, making four of his six 3-point tries.

    ``Well, he made shots and everybody looks better when that happens,’’ Van Gundy said. ``The bottom line is they put points on the scoreboard when the ball goes in the basket. What you’ve got to do when you get shots is put the ball in the basket. (Arenas) has been struggling for a while so it was good to see him make shots and hopefully get some confidence going.’’

  • Howard’s streak of 30-point games ended at four in a row, but he still muscled his way to an 18th straight double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Also, for the seventh straight game the Magic’s big man had at least 10 rebounds and two blocked shots.

    Because of the Magic’s comfortable lead, Howard had to play just 33 minutes. The fewer minutes – and not the smallish Bobcats – kept him from putting up his usual enormous numbers.

    Said Van Gundy: ``Dwight getting 20 and 10 is almost like an off night for him. He has raised the bar so high that 20 and 10 is kind of like ho-hum.’’

  • Getting off to better starts and not falling behind early in games has been a point of emphasis of late, and the Magic certainly seem to be getting the point of late.

    The Magic led Oklahoma City by 11 points at halftime on Friday and they were up eight on the Bobcats on Sunday night. Orlando’s offensive execution couldn’t have been much better in the first half when it made 22 of 34 shots (64.7 percent), hit five 3-pointers and turned the ball over only seven times. The Magic’s ball movement was so good early on that they had 15 assists on the first 22 field goals.

  • WHAT WENT WRONG

  • Charlotte majority owner Michael Jordan, who was sitting courtside with his two sons, has defended last week’s trading of fan favorite Gerald Wallace for reserve center Joel Przybilla. On the surface, the move looks like a salary dump by the cost-conscious Bobcats. Wallace still has two more years on his contract, while Przybilla’s deal expires this summer.

    Jordan said the deal gives the Bobcats more financial flexibility and allows them to be better than the East’s seventh seed as they were last spring when they lost to Orlando.

    Przybilla, who initially went to Charlotte thinking his contract would be bought out and he could return to Portland this season, has been told he’s in the Bobcats’ future, but that’s a stretch. He’s still badly bothered by a broken patellar knee injury from last season and he put up little resistance against Howard on Sunday night in 14 minutes in his debut with the Bobcats.

  • FINAL OBSERVATIONS

  • There was a comical exchange between Charlotte coach Paul Silas and a fan in the first half. When a fan sitting near the court yelled at Silas to get back in the coaching box, Silas turned to the fan and yelled, ``Shut up.’’

    Silas then broke into laughter and gave the fan a thumbs up sign.

  • There was an instance in the third quarter where a Flagrant Foul I clearly should have be called, but wasn’t.

    Howard was shoved in the back by Charlotte’s D.J. Augustin on a fastbreak alley-oop attempt and could have been injured had he not caught himself from falling. Van Gundy and Hedo Turkoglu objected, but the referees didn’t deem the foul bad enough to warrant a Flagrant Foul penalty.

  • Saddled with 15 technical fouls, Howard made it through the game without picking up a 16th technical foul which would trigger a NBA-mandated one-game suspension. Howard has to try and make it 22 more games without picking up a technical foul to avoid a $5,000 fine, a 1/100th deduction of his salary and a game suspension.

    Howard has been able to avoid a suspension in the previous two seasons, picking up 15 Ts twice and no more. He picked up his 15th technical foul in Game No. 68 last season, but went the final 14 regular-season games without one.

    The technical foul count starts over in the playoffs. Players are suspended following their seventh technical foul of the postseason.

  • John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.