The revitalized offense under Rafer Alston has hogged the attention the past few days — but Tuesday night’s 120-102 loss to the Bulls had nothing to do with offense. The Magic had their most pathetic defensive showing of the season.
- The Bulls scored 56 points on two-point baskets outside of the paint. They were throwing up uncontested Js all night.
- The 120 points surrendered to the Bulls was the most the Magic have allowed all season.
- It was the fourth time this season that Dwight Howard didn’t register a block. He was primarily matched up with Joakim Noah and Brad Miller, who attempted only 11 shots between the two of them.
Stan Van Gundy said after the game that the defensive woes were a result of a lack of intensity. There’s no question about that. The Magic didn’t rotate well on defense, and they really seemed content to give Chicago’s backcourt all of the 18-foot jumpers it could muster. The Magic defenders — primarily Rashard Lewis — didn’t seem to do much scouting on newly acquired Tim Thomas. The journeyman sat back and hit all four of Chicago’s 3-pointers, finishing with 17 points. Derrick Rose did whatever he wanted with Alston and Anthony Johnson, cruising to 22 points, five assists and one turnover. Chicago’s two other newcomers — Brad Miller (9 points, 7 boards) and John Salmons (11 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) — played well. The Magic are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA this season, so I’d chalk this one up to a lack of focus, lack of intensity, etc. But that doesn’t make it OK. Check out this quote from Van Gundy after the game: “It bothers me because our guys want to talk about being a contending team. We’re just kidding ourselves. I watch Boston and Cleveland and they rarely have nights where they don’t give full effort. We’re still not tough enough and we don’t play hard enough.” Expect the Magic to bring the D Wednesday night against the Knicks.