Revamped Magic find form, crush league leading Spurs
Day four of Magic 2.0 training camp turned out to be a pretty good one for Orlando as they destroyed the San Antonio Spurs and their league best 25-3 record by a final score of 123-101. The ever pessimistic Stan Van Gundy couldn’t withhold his joy as he entered his post game press conference with a not so well hidden sly smile. The Magic played like a team that we haven’t seen all season, which obviously is not surprising all things considered. They shot the ball effectively, moved the ball on offense and ran, ran, ran. The Magic had THIRTY fast break points compared to San Antonio’s two. Thirty to two. The previous season high for the Magic was only 19 fast break points. It’s amazing how converting easy, transition baskets can open up the rest of the offense and increase shot confidence.
Dwight Howard once again led all players with 29 points and 14 rebounds and the team had a balanced scoring effort from the remainder of the squad. Seven Magic players scored in double figures including 17 points for J.J. Redick and Brandon Bass.
The energy from the team tonight was fantastic and the entire game was summed up best by Stan Van Gundy when he jokingly opened his press conference by saying, “that was pretty good.” It sounds simple, but it sums it up perfectly for a team that had lost 7 of its last 8.
More news, notes, tidbits, gossip, analysis, thoughts, random observations below:
- The 3 big acquisitions for the Magic (Hedo, J-Rich and Gilbert) combined to shoot 13-53 for 48 total points in their first two games with the team. Tonight, they combined to shoot 18-38 for 40 points. Jason Richardson in particular came out significantly more aggressive and likewise for Gilbert Arenas. The sooner these guys can get comfortable and play their game (not fit in, but play their game) the sooner the Magic can go back to being an elite team.
- J.J. Redick was the first guard off the bench for the Magic tonight, not Gilbert Arenas. Any question of J.J. losing minutes was incorrect (I was wrong) as Stan said after the game he will remain playing meaningful minutes. Redick was 5-5 from three point land tonight and finished with 17. Since November 20th, J.J. is 31-59, 52.5% from beyond the arc.
- One night after coming off the bench, Brandon Bass returned to the starting line up where he will remain for the foreseeable future. Ba$$ did not start against Dallas due to Ryan Anderson being out, but with Ryan’s return Bass was not needed to support Dwight in the case of foul trouble. Stan said after the game that Ryan and Brandon will continue to play together when Dwight is out of the game and that he doesn’t consider it a pressing problem. Further proving his lack of concern, he said that if it came down to that he would play Dwight Howard 48 minutes. He was serious too.
- Tim Duncan had high praise for Gilbert Arenas and Dwight Howard, “Gilbert was a huge difference. I thought he probably made the biggest difference. He came in and scored a bunch of points for them (14). He shot the ball really well and extended that lead for them.” “Dwight was just consistent throughout. I don’t even know if he missed a shot the whole night. He was great around the rim finishing and affected a lot of shots on the other end.”
- With all that being said, the Spurs were coming off a hard fought game last night against the Denver Nuggets in San Antonio. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Many Ginobili all played less than 24 minutes. Greg Popovich is known to try and keep his aging players from over-exerting themselves in back-to-backs and as soon as the Magic lead pushed to blowout levels, those guys did not return. It was fun watching Chris Quinn and Matt Bonner play a lot at least…
It’s easy to jump ahead and say that this team is ready to roll but that is a dangerous leap to take. Tonight’s win was probably one of the top two wins of the season thus far (see: Heat, Miami) and is certainly a great point to work from. The loss to Dallas was tough, but you could see the new guys starting to come together and the potential was there. Tonight they took another step forward as they set their sights on getting back to the NBA Finals. Gilbert Arenas said it best on Tuesday night, “It’s not about now, it’s about 4 months from now.”
Next up for the Magic is the Christmas day battle against the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have won 14 in a row and the loss of last year’s playoff series is still fresh in everyone’s mind. It will certainly be a measuring stick game for the new team, but remember… it will still be only the 3rd game together and they still will have only practiced once. Game time is at 2:30.
Brian Serra is the founder of MagicBasketballOnline.com. You can follow/add him on Twitter and on Facebook. Compare pricing and find the cheapest tickets for all future Orlando Magic games using TiqIQ.