Remember what absolute blowouts feel like?
The kind of wins where there is never any doubt of what the result will be or leave no hope of any kind of comeback in the opponent. That quite honestly is what set the 2009 and 2010 apart in the Stan Van Gundy run of teams. That is what the good teams do. That is what great teams do.
And for the most of the last year and a half, that is what the Magic have failed to do consistently.
This year certainly it has been something the Magic have struggled to accomplish. And so that made Sunday’s game that much more of a positive sign for a team still seemingly looking for its way.
Even with Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu out for the game, Orlando played the aggressor and never really let up.
J.J. Redick and Dwight Howard led an offensive onslaught in the first quarter, working the pick and roll together with ease against the Pacers on the Magic’s way to 36 points in the first quarter. Indiana got within nine in the second quarter, but Orlando put the pedal to the metal and raced ahead by as much as 29 points in the third quarter.
Indiana had no other runs to make and no other threat to the lead. The Magic could skate by easily with a 107-94 victory at Amway Center on Sunday.
Dwight Howard exerted his will early, working the pick and roll with Redick superbly. Howard scored 30 points on 11-for-14 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds. Somewhat more importantly, he had five assists. Becoming the linchpin of the offense that makes the thing hum smoothly.
Playing the Hedo Turkoglu role of the playmaker on the pick and roll was J.J. Redick. He attacked Paul George with the aggression and energy Orlando needs from that position and role every single night. Redick had 18 points and a career high nine assists. He had a pretty significant +35 on the game. Redick took full advantage of the opportunity Jason Richardson’s injury left him.
With the ball moving and players looking to attack, Orlando’s full offensive assault was on display. The lead grew to as 29 points in the second half and only got shrunk down when Stan Van Gundy began to empty his bench.
It is a rare occurrence when Orlando takes more free throws than 3-point attempts. That happened tonight. And that is certainly an encouraging sign that the team is gaining energy and momentum.
Orlando had 30 free throw attempts to 27 3-point attempts. Howard was 8 for 12 from the line, a boost that really enabled the Magic to stay firmly in control and give the Pacers no chance to make a comeback.
For such a blowout of a game, it was odd how little Orlando used the 3-pointer. The Magic hit 10 of those 27 attempts, seeming to elect more on the ball movement and attacking posture off the pick and roll. Again, positive signs that the team is beginning to build momentum toward the end of the season.
The Magic did a number on the Pacers defensively, even though they ended up giving up 48.1 percent shooting on the day.
It seemed the big difference was what the Magic did offensively. The best defense in this case was the offense taking care of its business. The Magic did not record a turnover in the first quarter and had six in the entire second half. The eight in the second quarter enabled Indiana to make its one and only run.
Shocking, taking care of the ball makes for a better offense and game in general. That has not always been the best foot the Magic can put forward.
At last, that is what the Magic did Sunday.
So, how do the Magic spin this forward? It certainly seems that Orlando has turned in two of its best efforts in back-to-back games now. With Miami coming to town, there is another opportunity to show that this team can reach that level of consistency and, perhaps, catch that lightning in a bottle to get the train rolling.
Of course, we have to survive until Thursday too. Those rumors seem to be picking up with the trade deadline fast approaching.
For at least one night, we got to see the Magic playing at its highest peak and give us a start-to-finish blowout of old.