Starters, reserves shine in Orlando Magic win over Philadelphia 76ers

Going into Wednesday night, the Orlando Magic were facing the biggest expectations the team has seen since the mid-90s. It’s overstated and over simplistic, but it’s true: this team’s mindset is truly championship or bust.

One game in, the Magic lived up to the hype.

All of the newcomers contributed — including Ryan Anderson with 16 points, Vince Carter 15 points and Jason Williams 15 points and 5 assists — as the Magic streamrolled the 76ers 120-106 on Wednesday night. The Magic were propelled by an overriding second quarter where they outscored the 76ers 41-20 behind particularly electrifying play from Jason Williams, who had nine points and three assists in the period. The Magic connected on six 3-pointers in the period, turning a closely played contest into a blowout.

Here’s the breakdown.

  • Three seconds

    1. The Magic were all business tonight. There wasn’t as much smiling and goofing off as we’ve seen in the past from this team. The team looked loose, sure, but it was different than it’s been in the past. This team looked like a bunch of guys on a mission. They meticulously went about their actions, making smart decision on offense and buckling down on defense (for the first three quarters). Their cohesion and communication on defense — again, for the first three quarters, before allowing 37 points in the fourth — was probably better than we saw most of last year.

    2. The second unit was as good as advertised. All of the talk about the Magic’s depth proved worthy — the Magic lost little firepower when the key starters went to the bench, and the stars remained well-rested throughout. The Magic’s second-quarter surge was sparked by the lineup of Williams-Redick-Gortat-Bass-Barnes; that lineup outscored the Sixers 13-6 over a 4-minute stretch. Then Dwight Howard entered the game, and the Magic outscored the Sixers 26-13 the rest of the way and the game got out of hand. The Magic’s starters are good, obviously, and if the bench continues to outscore the other team’s bench, this Magic team will be really, really hard to beat.

    3. Jason Williams opened some eyes. Maybe Tim Povtak wasn’t so crazy when he said that Jason Williams could challenge Jameer Nelson for the starting point-guard position. OK, settle down, obviously the starting job is Jameer’s. But Williams played awesome tonight — he looked like a player that can start in the NBA. 15 points and five assists on 4-of-5 shooting is about the best you can ask for from a reserve point guard. He did seem to lose his focus in the second half, turning the ball over a few times, but that was when the game was out of hand.

  • What to like For the first three quarters: the offense, the defense, the rebounding, the shot selection and the teamwork. Overall, it was about the best debut you can hope for. When these wins came this easily in the preseason, you chalked it up to being an exhibition — but these are real games, now, and that was a convincing win over a playoff team. It’s hard to speak poorly of any of the players individually. Dwight Howard played like himself with 21 points and 15 boards, Ryan Anderson hit 4-of-7 3-pointers while being ignored at times by the Philadelphia defense, and Vince Carter had a solid yet uneventful debut.
  • What not to like The team didn’t play consistent defense all game long. In fact, the team’s defensive performance garnered quotes like this. Stan Van Gundy: “I don’t want to rely on our offense. I want to be sure that on an off night we can dig in and play good defense.” Dwight Howard: “We know we can score and we try to rely on that, but there’s going to be nights where the ball won’t go in the hole so we have to rely on our defense so it’s going to get a lot better.“ Mickael Pietrus: “We just have to play solid defense. It wasn’t perfect because it was the first game. We’re going to make it better.”
  • Behind the box score: The Orlando Magic scored on 17 of 25 possessions in the second quarter, good for an offensive rating of 160.
  • Magic’s best: Howard, who posted a quiet 21 and 15 while having very little trouble dealing with Marreese Speights and Sam Dalembert. Howard did draw a technical foul in the second quarter, though, when he allegedly threw an elbow at Speights. The two players exchanged words as Howard received the tech.
  • Magic’s worst: Rashard Lewis. Zero points. Oh, and everyone who played in the fourth quarter. I glanced away from the game at the end of the fourth quarter, and I couldn’t believe it was 120-106 by the end of it. This was legitimately a laugher.
  • Up next: The Magic travel tomorrow and will visit the New Jersey Nets on Friday night, marking the short-awaited return of Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to their old team. Pietrus hopes to go to the second game of the World Series tomorrow night, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jameer Nelson and others went, as well.
  • 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