24 March 2007

Get Us Some Yellow Five: Magic 90, Nets 82

It's not in my nature to doubt myself -- yes, I am that cocky -- but after last night's game, in which the Orlando Magic pulled even in the third and pulled away in the fourth, I'm thinking I should change this blog's name to 'Fourth Quarter Surge'.
Okay, maybe I'm getting a little crazy; after all, the Magic are still under .500 and their victory came against the Nets, arguably the most disappointing team in the Association this year.

The game wasn't pretty by any measure. The Nets couldn't seem to hit any shot from anywhere on the court: 34.5% from the field, 34.8% from three-point range, and a Magic-like 64% from the free throw line. The Magic fared better shooting the ball, but nearly negated any good that did them by committing 17 turnovers. In short, this game was emblematic of the Magic's entire season: solid defense making up for a sloppy offensive effort.

Speaking of offensive stagnation, I think Brian Hill still has a few kinks to work out. The Magic shot a mediocre 42.3% from the field, but that I can live with. What's troubling to me is Dwight Howard's complete lack of offensive involvement. He took just six shots on the night. He was clearly frustrated by the Nets' constant double-teams, but there's going to come a point when the Magic will need to feed him the ball to create offense. Jameer Nelson came up for the team when it counted, scoring 12 of his 22 points in the final period, but he played his typical inefficient game, shooting just 8-for-19 from the field. Further, no one else scored more than 12 for the Magic. Scoring 90 and beating the Nets is one thing; scoring 90 and beating Detroit or Cleveland, the likely top two seeded playoff teams in the East, is quite another.

After the game, Nets guard and potential free-agent signee Vince Carter said "It's all the same. A loss is a loss right now." That attitude, which lacks the necessary sense of urgency needed to make a playoff run, is one that the Magic desperately need to avoid if they want to reach the postseason for the first time since 2003.

This win would ideally light a fire under the Magic, which has failed to win consecutive games since the end of January. However, last week's convincing victories over contenders Utah and Miami should have done the same thing, but didn't. Putting together a winning streak would certainly toughen up this young team that so far has not displayed much hunger. With Indiana floundering, New York nursing injuries to key players and New Jersey underachieving, it's time for the Magic to make a move.

The Magic have had their third quarter collapse. It's time now for a fourth quarter surge.


  • The Magic wore their black throwback uniforms at home, a practice of which I do not approve. Wearing throwbacks at home is fine, but they should be the home colors
  • Carlos Arroyo got meaningful burn for the first time in over a week and scored 9 points in 8 minutes. Think he wants his backup point guard job back?
  • Bo Outlaw, not Pat Garrity, was the past-his-prime power forward on the inactive list for the Magic
  • It's hard for me to dislike Vince Carter, given his affinity for headbands and high socks.

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