You won’t see the Orlando Magic play a better half of basketball — and you might not ever again — than the second half of their 117-92 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.
After a lackluster first half where the Magic shot 35 percent and turned it over nine turnovers, the Magic trailed by eight to the young Bucks.
What followed was absolutely ridiculous. The Magic made 29-of-37 (78 percent) field goals in the second half and sunk 9-of-12 (75 percent) from 3-point range. They scored 76 points — after scoring 41 in the first half — on 44 possessions. That’s a 172.7 offensive rating. 15 of their 29 field goals were assisted. In case those stats are difficult to process in paragraph form, here they are in chart form:
|1st half||52||41||14-40 (35%)||1-9 (11.1%)|
|2nd half||44||76||29-37 (78.3%)||9-12 (75%)|
Meanwhile, Orlando’s defense stiffened as well. The Bucks were held to 33 percent shooting in the third and fourth quarters, and they turned the ball over nine times.
Incredibly high expectations were placed upon the Magic going into this season, those expectations were realized in the second half of tonight’s game. When this team is on, they are absolutely, unmercifully, utterly unstoppable.
There hadn’t been a time this season where the Magic locked, loaded and blew a team away in a short period of time (and I know that’s weird to say about a 23-8 team; what was that about expectations?). We knew, with so many weapons and so much depth, this team was capable of dominance. But we’d yet to see this team completely establish their supremacy at any point this year.
That is, until midway through the third quarter of tonight’s game. With the Bucks ahead 67-60, Vince Carter came up slow after being fouled by the Bucks’ Ersan Ilyasova. The Magic called a timeout during the stoppage in play. The team then responded with a 13-0 run, benefitting from a couple of 3s from Jason Williams, and took control of a game where an inferior team was hanging around. The Magic finished the game on a 57-25 run from that point. Carter and Williams combined to kickstart the run.
Carter scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the third quarter, and Williams went 5-for-5 from 3-point range in the second half. Dwight Howard helped, as well, playing a super-efficient game against a team that couldn’t handle him; he made 8-of-11 shots and scored 17 points on 14 possessions. There were two significant lineup changes, and I’ll get to those now.