Magic bounce back behind defense, strong bench play to pummel Pacers
On the night when Dwight Howard set the Orlando Magic franchise scoring record, it was defense that was the main storyline as Orlando defeated the Indiana Pacers 102-83. After giving up 29 first quarter points, the Magic ratcheted up the defensive intensity and held the Pacers to just 54 points through the final 36 minutes.
The turn around was spurred on with Dwight Howard on the bench in foul trouble and with Glen Big Baby Davis and the player formally known as #FreeEarlClark showing fight that had been absent for the previous 5 quarters of Magic basketball. Earl scored five 2nd quarter points and blocked two shots to allow the Magic to tie the game at the half after trailing by as many as ten points earlier in the game.
The Magic bench also played their collective best game of the season pouring in49 points for the game and led by J.J. Redick’s 15 and Big Baby’s 13 points. Ryan Anderson led the Magic in scoring for the game with 24 points.
More news and notes from tonight’s victory:
- An emphatic 3rd quarter dunk by Dwight Howard put him ahead of Nick Anderson as the all-time leading scorer in Orlando Magic history. There is no denying his value to the Orlando Magic franchise, but there is also no denying that it is bittersweet to watch Dwight break the record at the same time he is trying to leave the franchise for something he perceives as “better”. Perhaps a month, a year, a decade from now I will feel differently, but the excitement that should come with the capturing of that record feels nothing more than void.
- Earl Clark, who I had been pushing to be anything but “free” this season had his first game of the season where he showed that he still belongs in the NBA. He was re-signed by Otis Smith during the offseason to a 2 year deal because of his promise as a defender. Far too often this season Earl was flat flooted and a step slow. Tonight he brought the intangibles needed to help this team by showing extra fight on the glass and blocking FOUR shots.
- Ryan Anderson, who scored zero points in Boston last night definitely bounced back with a strong night. He shot 5-7 from 3-point range but the encouraging sign from Ryan was his 6 offensive rebounds.
- The backup back-court of Redick and Duhon far out shined the starting back-court of Nelson and Jason Richardson. Jameer and J-Rich combined for 4 points on 2-11 shooting. The Duke tandem of Duhon and Redick put up 23 points and added 4 steals.
- Jameer’s lack of scoring isn’t just coming from poor shooting, it’s also coming from his lack of aggression. He drives the lane with no intention of scoring, even as a second option. When he should be putting up a floater or mid-range jumper, he is instead trying to thread the needle on unnecessary passes. If someone finds Jameer’s confidence, please let the Orlando Magic organization know immediately.
Coming off the worst loss in franchise history, a win was paramount. The team came through and fought back from an early deficit to show the world, and more importantly themselves, that they are still a team to be reckoned with. They get a second shot at Boston on Thursday night in Orlando with game time set for 8:00PM EST.