The Orlando Magic improved to 6-0 on the preseason with a 101-98 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, overcoming a high number of turnovers and overall sloppy play throughout the game. Derrick Rose didn’t play for the Bulls and Rashard Lewis didn’t play for the Magic. Here are some quick thoughts on last night’s contest:
Six games isn’t a big enough sample size, but so far Dwight Howard’s free throws aren’t any better. He’s averaging about 20 points and 13 rebounds per 36 minutes — which is right on par with last season’s average — but his percentage from the line is 54.4 percent on 32 free throws. He went 10-for-17 (58 percent) against the Bulls. If he goes 12-of-17 (70 percent), his free-throw shooting is no longer a problem. He doesn’t have to be great, just mediocre.
With Jason Williams getting the night off, Monday night was Anthony Johnson’s last chance to make his case to be the backup point guard. You could see it in his play, as he didn’t look like the relaxed Johnson of last season, who wouldn’t force anything and let the game come to him. On Monday night, Johnson missed all of his shots and didn’t play well at all on the offensive end. It appears Williams has locked up the backup point guard spot.
When it comes to Jameer Nelson and Mickael Pietrus, there isn’t much reason to read into their preseason play from night to night. Both guys look good, and Jameer looks healthy.
JJ Redick went 0-for-7 from the field. It really is amazing how he’s turned from a spot-shooter to a defensive-minded player with an inconsistent jumper within a few years.
I thought Kirk Hinrich looked really good last night, and the box score confirmed it: 18 points, three assists, three steals, no turnovers. He might be the best (and highest paid) backup point guard in the NBA.
Rashard Lewis sat out because Stan Van Gundy wants to get a feel of how the team will do in the first ten games when Lewis is suspended.
Another great showing for Ryan Anderson, who scored 18 points and went 4-for-7 from behind the arc. I think Anderson is earning himself starting minutes while Lewis is suspended. He’s looked really, really good this preseason and I have a feeling Van Gundy will reward Anderson with an opening-night starting nod. Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus would be the first two off the bench. This isn’t based off anything that’s been said by Van Gundy, just a hunch.