In another grind-it-out game against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Orlando Magic overcame a below-average shooting night to beat the Bobcats 97-91. Seven players scored in double figures for the Magic, highlighted by Jameer Nelson’s 16 points. The game was close throughout and wasn’t decided until Vince Carter sunk a three-pointer with 53 seconds left to make it 93-87.
1. The rust showed on Rashard Lewis. You won’t see too many 0-for-6 lines next to Lewis’ name — this is the same guy who made a three-pointer in 56 consecutive games last season. He looked like Rashard Lewis tonight, but his jumpshot was off. It’s hard to blame him, nor be surprised, for struggling when his teammates and opponents are near midseason form and he’s just getting back into it. He struggled on defense as well, drawing ire from Van Gundy at several spots throughout the game, especially in the first half. But I know how I feel when I take a week off of pick-up basketball, and Lewis is obviously playing at a much-higher level with a much-longer layoff.
2. Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson played really well. Is it me, or did Bass look more comfortable playing center? It’s the position he spent the majority of his time at last season, and he seems to look more natural playing in the paint. All 10 of his points tonight came at the basket or at the free-throw line. Maybe that’s how he is, not the guy who’s trying to stretch the floor enough to keep his man off Dwight Howard. And Anderson didn’t miss a beat after a week off, scoring 12 points in 19 minutes. These types of games are becoming routine for Anderson. Anderson and Bass led the Magic with +13 and +10, respectively.
3. It was a win, but one the Magic will forget tomorrow. After the game, Stan Van Gundy said, “It’s a win and you move on. They know. They’re not dumb. We’re just not playing at a very high level.” Last season, the Magic made a living off keeping it close for three quarters and winning the fourth quarter. There will be plenty of games like this throughout the season; the key is to win them. That said, the Magic haven’t looked good in a couple weeks now. I know there are injuries, sicknesses and chemistry issues, but it’d be nice for the Magic to come out and blow a team out.
The Bobcats shot 50.7 percent, compared to Orlando’s 42.9 percent, yet the Magic were able to find a way to win. I feel like things have been very negative around here and Magic nation lately, but the Magic are 8-3 — has Orlando ever been in a position to complain about 8-3 before? I realize the schedule has been cake, but still. This team is finding a way to win. The bench, powered by Bass and Anderson, played really well and helped build a lead in the third quarter.
Howard’s still not right offensively, and he’s still letting the referees get to him. There isn’t anything original to say, but another five fouls tonight and it’s clear that he’s not doing anything differently than he was earlier in the year. He wants superstar calls, and he’s not getting superstar calls — it’s time to adjust.