By John Denton
March 19, 2012
ORLANDO – Back in January, the Orlando Magic seemed to be in prime position to beat a Boston Celtics team that was playing without injured stars Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. What followed, however, was the worst scoring night in franchise history for the Magic.
On Monday, Orlando seemingly dodged a bullet when reigning Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose was unavailable to play because of a strained groin. But shockingly, the Magic once again had trouble doing much of anything right offensively in another puzzling, lopsided loss.
The Magic slogged through a 35.3 percent shooting night and turned the ball over another 19 times as Chicago played suffocating defense and won 85-59 at the Amway Center.
Orlando (29-18) beat both Chicago and Miami two weeks ago for two of its best wins of the season, but lost to the Heat and East-leading Bulls (38-10) the last two nights. ``We went to Chicago and beat them with Derrick Rose and tonight they played without their star player and beat us with no problem,’’ Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis said. ``I wish they would have had Rose in a sense.’’
The Magic needed 46 minutes on Monday night to score 57 points to barely eclipse that franchise low of 56 points set on Jan. 23 at Boston. Dating back to the second half of Sunday’s loss in Miami, the Magic have failed to crack at least 20 points in their last six quarters.
Dwight Howard had 18 points and 12 rebounds and the only other Magic player in double figures in scoring was Ryan Anderson with 10. The four starters other than Howard combined to make just 12 of 37 shots.
``They just outplayed us at every possession one through five,’’ said Howard, who added three blocked shots. ``It can’t happen if we want to win a championship.’’
Ahhhhh, winning a championship. The mere mention of a championship got Davis rolling after the game. He was a part of Boston’s 2008 team that won it all and he shared plenty of thoughts on what the magic are lacking their pursuit of a championship.
``I have a ring and before I leave this game I can say that I’ve won. But if we want to win we all have to buy in – me, the team, the most important guy all the way to the least important guy,’’ Davis said. ``Consistency (is lacking). Sometimes we get bored with the journey and just play to the level that we need to.’’
Chicago power forward Carlos Boozer again feasted on the Magic defense, scoring 24 points on 12 of 18 shooting. And third-string point guard John Lucas scored 20 points in 21 minutes, 11 of them coming consecutively in the first half as the Bulls pulled away.
Following the difficult back-to-back against the Miami Heat and the Bulls, the Magic will get a much-needed day off on Tuesday. They return to action on Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns at the Amway Center.
``Our offense was pathetic. And that’s something that I have got to take a look at because we’ve got better players than that,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``It’s really two games in a row now where we’ve been very bad offensively. Some of the turnover stuff guys have to take responsibility for on their own. But I’ve got to take responsibility for getting us better shots than we are getting right now.’’
- Howard was the lone bright spot for the Magic, hitting eight of 12 shots. There were plenty of chances for rebounds with all of the missed shots and four of Howard’s 12 rebounds came off the offensive glass.
Howard said it’s up to the Magic to find a way to dig out of their offensive funk and get back to being the team loaded with weapons and is capable of beating any team on a given night.
``They just played harder,’’ Howard said. ``When we play hard, we can beat any team in this league. They know it and so does everybody else.’’
- The Magic have done plenty of talking in recent days about valuing the ball better in an attempt to cut down their turnovers. But there was no proof of that in the first half as the Magic kicked the ball away 11 times, resulting in 16 points for the Bulls.
Nelson had the ball poked away from him a couple of times and turned the ball over four times in the first half. Seven different Magic players turned the ball over in the first 24 minutes.
The most bizarre turnover of them all came late in the second quarter when Anderson was called for stepping over the line on an inbounds play. It was the 10th turnover of the night and summer up the Magic’s frustration.
- On Sunday night, the Miami Heat went right at Anderson, routinely getting the ball to power forward Chris Bosh, who made his first five shots and scored 23 points.
On Monday, the Bulls made it a point of emphasis to funnel the ball to Boozer, who made eight of his first 10 shots and scored 16 first-half points. He’s had his best games of the season against the Magic, scoring 26 and 20 points earlier this season.
Van Gundy has tried to use Davis more because he is a better low-post defender. But the power forward position has become a major problem area for the Magic.
``I’m not shocked because we didn’t play the right way at all,’’ Davis said. ``We don’t have superstars (guards). We have one – Dwight Howard, so we’ve got to play the right way. We don’t have a Dywane Wade, Ray Allen or Paul Pierce. We need each other to win. What makes us strong is our numbers. We play like we have five all-stars sometimes.’’
- Lucas filled the void left by Rose’s absence and hurt the Magic in the first half. With the Bulls trailing 14-13, Lucan made three straight 3-pointers to end the first quarter. He then started the second period with a one-on-one jumper over Chris Duhon, giving him 11 consecutive points during Chicago’s game-turning 12-0 run.
- Howard picked up his ninth technical foul of the season early in the third period when he argued with referee Zach Zarba. Howard was clearly pushed under the basket from behind by Joakim Noah, and Howard argued when there was no call.
Players are suspended for a game when they pick up their 13th technical foul of the season. Howard led the NBA in technical fouls last season and missed two games because of suspensions.
- The Magic talked as a team after the game, discussing ways to get past losing to Miami and Chicago the past two days. The solution: Get back to work on sharing the ball and building a tighter chemistry on defense.
``The message (in the postgame locker room) was that we’ve got to start over, take it back to practice and get the job done,’’ Davis said.
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