Magic Defeat Rockets 97-88 In Preseason Opener


Basketball  is back, folks. Enjoy it.

In what was a fairy entertaining game for a preseason battle, the Orlando Magic defeated the Houston Rockets 97-88.

The Magic executed pretty well on offense. The offense looked a little different – the Magic posted up more than usual and it got them some open looks from beyond the arc. The defense looked a little sluggish but wound up playing much better at different points in the game. Some sloppy play is expected early in the team’s first game. After all, the preseason is there to prepare for the regular season and work the kinks out.

The entire team pledged to work harder and be better conditioned coming into training camp and it really showed. The players looked noticeably better in that aspect. Vince Carter’s conditioning specifically stood out.

Dwight Howard was an absolute monster. In the first quarter, he hit a couple of bank shots, including a bank shot that may make Tim Duncan jealous. Howard, who was matching up with a slower-footed Yao Ming, who hasn’t played in an NBA game in 18 months, used finesse to beat the big man (similar to the way he was able to score on Kendrick Perkins during last season’s Eastern Conference Finals). Howard often utilized a spin move and had several pretty finishes. Howard had 17 points and 9 rebounds in the first half and finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds in the game.

Both fans and analysts have called for Rashard Lewis to play more at the 3 and that happened Tuesday night. Lewis started at the 4 but later moved to the 3 with Brandon Bass manning the 4 (and later with Anderson). Lewis looked very good on the offensive end and could seemingly do whatever he wanted on  that end. At times, the Magic were running their offense almost completely through Lewis in the post. He should be able to take advantage of smaller 3’s on offense. Lewis finished with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. As many of us expected, his defense on opposing 3’s is very suspect. It’s going to be very difficult for him to stay with quicker 3’s.

Quentin Richardson was one of the Magic players who surprised some by posting up. Richardson has always been pretty good in the post and this will only add another dimension to Orlando’s offense. Richardson also proved that he is more than capable of replacing Matt Barnes’ rebounding – Q grabbed 7 boards Tuesday.

Ryan Anderson was the first Power Forward off of the bench but both he (19 minutes) and Brandon Bass (17 minutes, 30 seconds) saw a lot of time in the game. Both players played pretty well and Anderson’s defense of some skilled players was pretty good.

Vince Carter played a pretty complete game (14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) and the highlight of the night for Carter actually came on an assist – an alley-oop to Marcin Gortat (10 points, 5 rebounds) in transition.

Jameer Nelson had a bit of an off night shooting (8 points on 3-of-9 shooting) but dished out 7 assists. Nelson’s backup, Chris Duhon, looked very comfortable running the pick-and-roll in Orlando’s offense.

Next Up: The Magic will play the Pacers in Indiana Friday night.

Final Thought: You can’t overreact to game one of the preseason but it was a pretty good all-around outing for the Magic.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page, and co-host of CB Sports Radio from 5-7 pm week days ( Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).