Orlando Magic News & Notes: Magic Take Game One


The Orlando Magic nearly blew a 22-point lead but held on to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats 98-89.

Jameer Nelson tied a career-high by scoring 32 points in Orlando’s victory and it caused Mike Bianchi to make a prediction.

"“He had his way with us,” Bobcats coach Larry Brown said of Nelson. “”This has become of league of unbelievable point guards. If you respect the game, you have to respect what he does.”I am going to go out on a limb right now: If Jameer keeps playing like this, I’m guaranteeing the Magic will win the championship this year. In hindsight, if Jameer had played like this last year, the Magic would have won the championship."

You can read that story here.

After the game, Dwight Howard called Nelson a “crib midget.”

"“It feels great to be in the playoffs. It was great to be out there, and not sitting in a suit on the bench cheering them on,” Nelson said. “But I don’t worry what people say or think or write. I just worry about what the guys in the locker room say.”The Magic needed everything Nelson could bring Sunday. Howard still was great defensively, but he was useless on offense. Carter wasn’t much better. Howard had five points, seven rebounds and nine blocked shots. He made only one of six free throws. Carter made only four of 19 shots for 12 points."

Tim Povtak has that story here.

Orlando’s depth helped them overcome some major problems.

"The second-seeded Magic led by as many as 22 points in the second half, but saw that bulge shrink to five points late in the fourth quarter. But the Magic kept getting production from all points of the roster to take a 1-0 lead in the series.“Not having Dwight much and with Vince struggling, it kind of messed our offense up, but other people like Jameer, and J.J. and Mickael Pietrus did shows a total team effort,’’ said Lewis, who made eight of 11 shots, three of five 3-pointers and was his usual steady self in the playoffs. “Our organization did a lot last summer to get us some help. We have a lot of different styles and a lot of different guys who can be go-to scorers and that’s nice to have.’’What’s also nice to have is an eraser such as Howard, who once again made his case as to why he should be the runaway winner of the Defensive Player of the Year for a second straight year. Howard blocked nine shots, equaling his playoff record set last June in the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. He set franchise records for blocks in a quarter (six) and a half (eight) when Charlotte’s guards repeatedly challenged him at the rim."

John Denton provides his postgame analysis here.

Dwight Howard only played 28 minutes and didn’t put up big numbers, but that doesn’t tell the story.

"“You’ve got to pick your poison when you play them,” Brown said. “…We focused so much on him that we didn’t focus on everybody else. I think that really impacted the game. That kid is great. He doesn’t have to score. He intimidates shots. He’s unselfish. He’s a pretty incredible player. Under the circumstances, we’re not going to do much better.”This is very bad news for Mr. Brown.The Magic are strong enough to overcome such challenges when Howard struggles offensively. For Howard, the most important part of any statistical trilogy is rebounds and blocks. Howard finished with a franchise record nine blocks, reflective not only of his prowess, but of opportunities. The Bobcats keep coming in waves, despite their lack of success."

George Diaz has that story here.

Mickael Pietrus made some big plays for the Magic.

"“It’s playoff time,” said Pietrus, who finished with 14 points. “We need everybody.”That includes Pietrus, a 6-foot-6 defensive specialist who has been an enigma since the team started its season back in late October.Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy has said all along that Pietrus’ biggest value to the team is his ability to defend opposing teams’ best wing players. But Van Gundy feels that Pietrus’ intensity and focus can wane when he’s not making his shots.“When he’s at his best, when he’s right, he’s got the athleticism certainly to go out and defend people,” Van Gundy said shortly before tipoff. “He can shoot the ball and everything else. It’s just really for him a consistency thing.”"

Josh Robbins has that story here.

The Magic are prepared to deal with adversity.

"The Magic held the Bobcats to 29.7 percent shooing in the second half. The game lived up to its billing as a grind-it-out affair between two of the league’s stingier defenses, and Howard was monstrous.Howard finished with more blocks (9) and rebounds (7) than points (5) in almost 28 minutes. Carter fouled out and had a forgettable shooting night, missing 15 of 19 shots and scoring 12 points.“We have to handle adversity from time to time. That’s why we’re one of the good teams in the league,” Nelson said. “We have other guys that Dwight and Vince have lot of faith in.”"

Brian Schmitz discusses that here.

Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus covered for Vince Carter.

"Lewis and Pietrus cover for Vinsanity. How does Orlando win a game in which Howard and Vince Carter combine for just 17 points? Well, in Howard’s case, Charlotte dogged him in the half-court — his first touch that wasn’t a rebound came with 3:12 left in the first period, and he finished with just four shots. (Expect Hack-A-Howard to become in vogue however, as Supe shot 1-6 from the charity stripe.) But Carter was horrible, clanking 4 of 19 shots before fouling out. Fortunately for Orlando, Rashard Lewis awoke for 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting and Mickael Pietrus picked up where he left off in last year’s playoffs, hitting 4-of-7 three pointers, including a back-breaker with little more than two minutes to play."

You can find that story here.

Larry Brown is very impressed by Dwight Howard.

"“We got in so close on him (defensively) that we didn’t handle anything else,” Brown said. “He doesn’t have to score. He intimidates. He blocks shots.“He got five points and he was the most valuable player.”Brown’s statement is understandable, but Howard had plenty of aid. Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson was exceptional with 32 points and six assists, making 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Nelson continuously broke down Bobcats counterpart Raymond Felton during the first half, creating separation on his jump shot or advantage off his drives.“They weren’t helping at all off of Dwight in the first quarter,” Nelson said. “Left me wide open.”"

Rick Bonnell has that story here.

Marcin Gortat honored fallen Polish President Lech Kaczynski.

"“It’s so far away, but it’s hard not to affect me. My family, friends and part of me is still there,” Gortat said. “When you lose leaders like that, you worry what will happen to the country. I can only hope for the best. We lost a great leader.”The funeral came eight days after the Polish Air Force jet crashed on approach to Smolensk, Russia, killing everyone aboard. Kaczynski and everyone aboard was traveling there for a ceremony honoring 22,000 Polish officers slain by the Soviet secret police in 1940.Sunday, Kaczynski was buried at Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, where only the country’s most highly-regarded statesmen are laid to rest.“He did so much for our country. I can only hope that there isn’t chaos coming now, and that our next leader can be as passionate,” Gortat said. “I just wanted to do something small to help honor him.”"

You can read about this story here.

The Bobcats are remaining optimistic.

"* Charlotte is optimistic following the loss. Their gameplan was to slow down Dwight Howard offensively and force someone else to step up. They held Howard to five points but Jameer Nelson was able to carry the team, scoring a career-high 32 points and dishing out six assists. Dwight made an effort to dominate the game on the defensive end since he couldn’t contribute on offense, blocking nine blocks. Larry Brown was very pleased with Nelson and when asked to rank him against other point guards in the league, Brown said with a smile, “He’s a Philly guy so very high.”* Jackson’s take after the game was that “we can beat this team.” He was frustrated throughout the press conference but it was clear that he’s determined and the Bobcats still believe they can pull off the upset."

Alex Kennedy has that story here.

Bobcats Planet also thinks the Bobcats can turn things around.

"The Orlando Magic are in for a brutal fight. It may not have looked that way at halftime when the Bobcats were down by 20 and their top score was laid out on the court writhing in pain with a hyper-extended knee. But if you looked at the faces of the Orlando Magic players during the final 3 minutes of regulation you would have seen that THEY know that it is true. They are in for a long and painful series.This is the type of series that is going to have a 1990s Knicks-Heat type of feel to it. Ferocious defense and bodies repeatedly hitting the floor… It’s going to be beautiful."

You can read that story here.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).