Magic Defense Dominates Bucks

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The Orlando Magic started slow but got it going late in the first quarter and took control of the game, winning 99-82. It was Orlando’s fourth straight victory and their seventh win in their last eight games. The Bucks were led by Charlie Bell and Luke Ridnour’s 13 points while the Magic got 22 points and 11 rebounds from Dwight Howard and a near triple double from Vince Carter – he had 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy was pleased with the win.

"“I was really, really happy with that win… A lot of good things tonight, so pretty happy.”"

The Magic got off to a very poor start and looked flat for the first six-and-a-half minutes. The Bucks got several open looks offensively and forced three turnovers and poor shooting taking an early 20-8 lead. During that span, Andrew Bogut had eight points on 4-of-4 shooting. When Vince Carter drove to the basket and made a very athletic reverse layup with 5:12 to play, it seemed to wake the Magic up. They went on a 13-4 run and cut the Bucks lead to one before Luke Ridnous gave the Bucks a 26-23 lead which was the score after one. Vince Carter had an excellent quarter for the Magic. He made an effort to drive to the basket and he was rewarded for the effort. He went 3-of-5 from the field, scored seven points, grabbed two rebounds and dished out two assists. Both teams shot 50% from the field in the period.

The Magic took over the game in the second quarter. They started the quarter on a 10-1 run quickly taking a 33-27 lead and they would never look back. Dwight Howard, who was held scoreless in the first quarter, hit a couple of hook shots with his off hand that really seemed to get the Magic rolling after the Bucks got back within two. Orlando really clamped down on defense in the period. The Bucks shot just 4-of-21 from the field, 0-of-5 from three-point range and 2-of-8 from the free throw line. Orlando also outrebounded Milwaukee 16-9. Vince Carter scored eight more points, upping his halftime totals to 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. The Magic ended the quarter on a 9-0 run building their largest lead of the night at 50-36.

The Bucks made a little run to get back into the game in the third quarter cutting the lead to 50-42 and 54-47. The Magic quickly responded with a 17-5 run capped by a J.J. Redick three-pointer that made it 71-52. The Magic shot just 6-of-16 in the quarter, but went 12-of-16 from the line and held the Bucks to just 7-of-24 shooting from the field. Dwight Howard scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds in the period. Orlando closed out the quarter with a 75-57 lead.

The two teams played a pretty ho-hum fourth quarter. At one point, a little over midway through the period, the Bucks cut the lead back to 13. The Magic answered by scoring the next seven points bringing the lead back to 20 at 94-74. Orlando shot 7-of-18 in the period but his seven more free throws. The Bucks got some late baskets and shot 11-of-24 in the quarter ending the game with a final score of 99-82.

NBA

Defense is what got the job done for Orlando. After letting the Bucks explode for 16 points in the first 5:14, the Magic shut down the Bucks. One of Orlando’s most impressive defensive performance of the season came in the second quarter when they held the Bucks to 10 points on 4-of-21 shooting. For the night, the Bucks shot an effective field goal percentage of 40.1%. Outside of a good opening quarter by Andrew Bogut, the Bucks couldn’t get anything going in the pain. They scored just 26 points on 13-of-34 shooting.

As usual, the defense starts with Dwight Howard’s dominance of the paint. Although Howard got into some early foul trouble, he controlled the paint in the second quarter. He played eight minutes in the period and did not pick up another foul. As mentioned, Bogut got off to a hot start scoring eight points in the first period. He scored just two points in the second period and was held scoreless for the rest of the game on 0-of-4 shooting.

After the game, Howard said the team makes a point of not allowing opponents to score in the paint. In fact, Howard doesn’t even want his opponents to get into the lane.

"“We tried not to let them get it into the paint. And then if they did, me and Marcin would try to be there and block their shots. That’s what it’s going to take for us to be a great team. We have to protect the interior, not let them get to the basket and score. So we did a good job of that.”"

Howard had 11 rebounds and blocked five shots, but he also got it done on the offensive end. After a scoreless first quarter, Howard finished with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting (8-of-13 from the free throw). Howard showed off his go-to move, the hook shot on a few different occasions, including using his off-hand to put it in.

The story of the night was the performance of much maligned Vince Carter. Carter did an excellent job of getting to the basket. In fact, Carter went 7-of-15 from the field, but made four of his five field goal attempts at the rim. This helped open up the three-pointer for Carter, who went 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Carter said that he didn’t plan on going to the rim right from the start, it was just how the game went.

"“I just took what was there. They, especially off of Dwight, I think my first basket was a lay-up off a pass from Dwight. After that I was trying to attack, and pick-and-rolls, whatever the situation we were in.”"

Not only did Carter get it done scoring-wise but he had an excellent game distributing the ball, finishing the game with seven assists. Carter had a few memorable assists, including a drive and dish to Rashard Lewis for an open shot and a beautiful bounce pass to J.J. Redick, who promptly made a three-pointer.

Speaking of Redick, he was excellent off the bench again. Van Gundy said that he was happy with Redick’s play off the bench rightfully so. Redick scored 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting (3-of-4 from downtown) and dished out four assists.

Van Gundy also said that Jason Williams had an efficient game when asked about the Point Guard’s performance. He scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting, had five rebounds and dished out five assists without turning the ball over once. That’s exactly what you want from a guy like Williams.

Game Notes:

  • Van Gundy joked that the Magic defended the free throw line well when discussing Milwaukee’s 9-of-19 effort from the charity stripe.

“Plus, I thought we guarded their free throws well. Very well, I mean they shot under 50 percent at the line.”

  • Van Gundy was pleased with Matt Barnes’ performance and called him a “great rebounded.” Barnes had 11 points and seven rebounds.
  • Howard had a double-double for the 10th straight game – he’s averaging 21.1 points per game and 13.9 rebounds per game over that stretch.
  • Both Vince Carter’s 10 rebounds and seven assists were a season-high.
  • The Magic ended the first quarter on a 10-2 run and the second quarter on a 13-3 run.

Next Up: The Magic will get a few days off before taking on the Washington Wizards at home on Friday night.

Final Thought: The Magic gave an excellent defensive effort and did exactly what they were supposed to do in getting an easy win over the Bucks.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)