The Orlando Magic played a home game for the first time in nearly two weeks tonight, easily crushing the undermanned Indiana Packers 117-87 behind 21 points from Vince Carter and six other players in double figures. As has become the preseason norm, here are some quick notes from the game.
It’s all but official: Jason Williams has locked up the backup point guard position. While Stan Van Gundy won’t confirm anything right now, it’s clear that Williams offers more excitement and energy off the bench than Anthony Johnson. Williams played his best game of the preseason on Wednesday: 11 points, 4-of-5 shooting, 5 assists and no turnovers in 21 minutes. And he certainly passed the eye test, pushing the transition game and finding teammates for several easy layups in the first half. Here’s Stan Van Gundy after the game: “I think he’s looked better every time out. His energy’s great. We get up and down the floor when he’s in the game. He’s got a real good feel for the game and he sees some things out there. I think he adds a lot to us. I thought he was outstanding tonight.” Pencil it in: White Chocolate will be Jameer’s backup on opening night. Not that that’s shocking news or anything.
Matchups-wise, it couldn’t have been a better night for Matt Barnes to start at power forward. He ended up spending most of his minutes opposite Troy Murphy, another unorthodox power forward who prefers to spend his time on offense around the perimeter. This made Barnes more effective — when the Magic were on defense — than either Brandon Bass or Ryan Anderson. Barnes looked good, but don’t get any ideas about Barnes starting opening night at power forward; it’s between Anderson and Bass. If Barnes starts, it will be at the 3.
In games such as tonight, when Barnes matches up so well with Murphy, some people begin to wonder if the Magic could shift their starting lineup depending on the nightly matchup. With the Magic having so much flexibility, it makes sense. But Van Gundy insists he’d like a consistent starting lineup each and every night. He doesn’t want to change the rotation often. “I hope not. But I’m just not going to say anything definitively because we may feel more comfortable in that. But I would like to settle on a lineup a week from tonight and keep it at least for three or four games and see how it goes.”
Does Brandon Bass miss mid-range jumpers? He was 3-for-3 tonight, and he’s shooting nearly 70 percent on the preseason. I, like many others, severely underestimated how polished his offensive game is. And on top of all that, he has “red eyes as a bull,” according to Marcin Gortat.
The Magic were missing Rashard Lewis, but the Pacers were missing three starters in Tyler Hansbrough, T.J. Ford and Mike Dunleavy.
The Magic scored 72 points in the second half, after a mediocre 45 points in the first half. And the 72 points were relatively quiet — it’s not like they shot the lights out or anything. All the points came in the flow of the offense.