Orlando Magic 110, Milwaukee Bucks 94

Despite lackluster play at the beginning of the contest, the Magic were able to cruise past the Bucks with relative ease in the second half. Led by the play of some backups in the early part of the fourth quarter – you’ll see JJ Redick’s alley-oop to Marcin Gortat on Sportscenter – the Magic were able to routinely pull away in the second half after a first half where they shot below 45 percent and played about even with the Bucks. Spreading it around The Magic used a balanced attack, as all five starters reached double digits but none of them scored more than 20. Rashard Lewis (19 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks), Hedo Turkoglu (18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) and Courtney Lee (16 points) all played well. And oh yeah, Dwight Howard had a “below average” performance of 18 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. It was a complete team effort, and the exceptional play of the reserves is something the Magic are going to need come playoff time. Forward progress Bucks starting forwards Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva – the Bucks’ go-to guys – combined to make 8 of 33 shots. They also snagged 11 rebounds. Their adversaries, Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, made 15 of 27 field goals and garnered 17 rebounds. Turk and Rash played well on the offensive end, but their play on defense and on the boards was the real story. It’s when these two guys are playing like they did on Friday that the Magic are an extra-scary team – especially if Dwight Howard is his usual self. Three keys revisited 1. Come out with energy. No. The Magic failed this one, coming out with lackluster effort and playing close with the Bucks at the beginning of the game. The Magic are talented enough to overcome this, obviously, against a team like Milwaukee. Even though they led by only one after the first quarter, it was pretty obvious that it was only a matter of time before they pulled away. 2. Send it in to Dwight. Yes. Early foul trouble and Stan Van Gundy gave Dwight a break, netting him just 24 minutes. But Howard got his while in the game, and the Bucks could do nothing to stop the big guy. Howard shot 14 free throws in 24 minutes, and he scored 18 points. Dwight’s offense wasn’t really needed on Friday night, but it will be in the playoffs if the Magic are going to be successful. 3. Speed it up. Yes. The Magic – led by their reserves – were able to push the tempo in the second half and pull away. The Bucks didn’t have the transition defense to offer much resistance when the Magic got moving. The numbers speak for themselves: 110 points and 21 assists on 41 made field goals. Key figures 23 – Minutes played by Marcin Gortat, who finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. He played almost as much as Dwight Howard. Gortat also had two blocks as he really showed what he can do when he gets some valuable minutes. The more games like this, though, the less likely it is that Gortat returns to Orlando. He’ll get the mid-level exception from somebody. 30 – Difference of +/- between Rashard Lewis and his backup, Tony Battie. Lewis led the game with +23, while Battie had the Magic’s worst of -7. Did this make Rashard Lewis the Magic’s most valuable player on Friday night? I think it did. 59.4 – Free-throw percentage for the Magic, and it wasn’t even Dwight Howard’s fault. Howard made 10 of 14, while JJ Redick was 1-for-3, Courtney Lee 1-for-4 and Marcin Gortat 0-for-3. This was a flukey night, though. 5-of-24: Richard Jefferson’s night from the field. The Magic did an excellent job of shutting down the Bucks’ best scorer. 36-of-92: The Bucks’ night as a whole from the field. Combine poor shooting with good defense and this is what you get, a 39 percent shooting night from your opponent. 41-of-80: Orlando’s night from the field. Any time you shoot over 50 percent and hold your opponent under 40 percent, MAGIC’S BEST: Rashard Lewis, who scored 19 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. It was a nice all-around game for Lewis. He’s struggled lately, and he’s at his best as a guy who does a lot of scoring but contributes in other ways as well. Looks like the shooting slump is officially over. He was of 8-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-6 from behind-the-arc. MAGIC’S WORST: I want to say Tyronn Lue, but we’ll go with Tony Battie. Battie had 0 points and two rebounds in more than 15 minutes of play. DEFENDING DWIGHT: With his limited minutes, the Bucks’ defense of Dwight wasn’t actually a major factor in the game. But when Dwight was out there, the Bucks wavered between the instant double team and the delayed double team, when they’d wait for Howard to put it on the floor. UP NEXT: The Magic are off till Monday, when they’ll visit the Miami Heat. The Magic are up 2-1 on the season series with the Heat, and it’d be nice to win the series. Dwyane Wade went off for 50 points the last time these teams met. The Magic will then play Toronto on Wednesday before a big game against Cleveland on Friday night. Woody Wommack contributed to this recap.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily