“We want Foyle.”
When the Orlando crowd demands a cameo in the waning minutes from their third-string center that hasn’t stepped onto the court this season, it’s probably a sign that things are going well for the Magic.
Even Dwight Howard joined in on the chant to insert Adonal Foyle, who enjoyed a rare night in uniform thanks to a stiff neck that sidelined Mickael Pietrus. But Stan Van Gundy would not relent to the peer pressure as he sat with his legs crossed and a slight smirk on his face and watched his team feast on yet another inferior opponent en route to their seventh consecutive win, a season high.
Right from the start, the Magic’s 111-82 win over the Chicago Bulls felt similar to the way you would feel if you were picking a fight with a guy on crutches. Even at full strength the Bulls would have difficulty with the Magic, but without their best interior defender and rebounder in Joakim Noah, and a first quarter injury to All-Star Derrick Rose, this game was virtually over before it started.
The Magic shot 55.1 percent from the field and held the Bulls to a dismal 39.8 percent as they opened an early lead, cleared the bench, and went on to win convincingly. They held the Bulls to just 33 first-half points and ended the half on a 20-3 run, which included an emphatic putback dunk by Brandon Bass to open a 30-point lead in the final minute.
Howard even swished in an 18-footer to end the half, although it clearly came after the buzzer and did not count. Nonetheless, it was indicative of the way things were going for the Magic tonight.
Vince Carter scored 21 of his game-high 23 points in the first half, although he wasn’t exactly in attack mode. He did however hit some contested shots in the paint and went 8-for-13 from the field. When his shots are falling, and the team is up by 30 points, there’s really no need to question his shot selection.
Rose injured his wrist in the first quarter after challenging Howard and taking a hard fall. It was eerily similar to the play in February when Rose suffered a bruised hip after attacking the basket, colliding with Howard and crashing to the floor. Apparently Rose has never heard the saying “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.” I don’t know if that saying even applies but it sounds damn good and I couldn’t find a better analogy. Let’s just say Rose may think twice before driving against Howard for a third time.
Howard was in foul trouble most of the game and had 12 points and six boards in just 20 minutes on a night where he could have exploited the Bulls’ lack of an inside presence. Although, one particular Howard sequence warrants mentioning. In the first quarter, Howard blocked a perimeter jumper by Rose, received the outlet pass and pushed the ball up court into a crowd of defenders before wisely passing out to reset. He then established position in the post and did a quick spin move around someone named Chris Richard and threw down an alley-oop from Jason Williams. Defense, ball-handling, intelligence, and athleticism, all in a ten-second span.
Yet even in a 29-point victory the Magic committed 21 turnovers, which may cause perfectionists to ponder what the final margin could have been had they actually protected the ball. Despite the turnovers and limited minutes by the starters, the Magic add yet another blowout win to the resume.
During the win streak the Magic have won by 17 against Miami, 21 at Philadelphia, 27 versus Golden State, 10 at New Jersey, 26 over the Clippers, and 29 last night against the Bulls. Not to mention, a two-point win over the Lakers sprinkled somewhere in the middle.
With a win at Washington on Friday, the Magic can match the highest winning streak since the Brian Hill Part II Era in April of 2006.
Arguably the hottest team in the East, the Magic seem to be giving fans all they can ask for at the moment. Well, everything but an Adonal Foyle appearance.