After one week and two games played the Orlando Magic seem to have a classic case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Magic who seemed like the most prepared and season ready team east of Los Angeles had two games with vastly different results. The team opened the season and its new arena October 29 with a rousing 112-83 victory over the Washington Wizards. Dwight Howard paced the team with 23points, 10 rebounds, and 3blocks. Vince Carter was aggressive early and shot an efficient 8-12 on his way to 18points and 5 rebounds. Jameer Nelson chipped in with 16 points while Rashard Lewis scored 13 to round out the double digit Magic scorers that evening. Orlando completely outplayed the Wizards and suffocated them defensively with sharp rotations and close out defense. The Wizards were without the enigmatic Gilbert Arenas and aren’t exactly among the Eastern Conference elite. However, that is what is a good team is supposed to do against a bad team. Dominate!
If the same thinking is applied the role of the bad team was played by the Magic the following night when they matched up against the Miami Heat. Early on the Magic were able to equal the manic energy of the Heat and its fans. Howard was impressive in the first half showing some of his Hakeem Olajuwon learned moves and semi-improved jumper. He even drew a technical after burying one jumper and taunting the Heat for leaving him open. Vince Carter left the game in the second quarter with a head and hip injury suffered as a result of a rebound battle with Miami’s Udonis Haslem. He left the game after 14 minutes and was only able to contribute 4 points before his departure. Despite being shorthanded the Magic were in the game and only trailed 51-45 at the half. Then Halloween came early for Orlando fans when the team was spooked by the Heat’s pressure defense and surrendered a 14-0 run to open the third quarter. That as they say was that. Miami never looked back and turned the game into a comedy of horrors closing the Magic out 96-70.
Disappointment cascaded from the Orlando locker room after the loss. “They came out, they threw an uppercut, and as a team we kind of went down,” Dwight Howard said. “Overall, I thought it was just a terrible offensive execution,” said Rashard Lewis, who was 0 for 9 from the floor. The Magic surely wanted to play better and send a message to the overhyped Miami Heat. Well as much of a message that can be sent in the second game of the season that is. Unfortunately it was the Heat who sent the message loud and clear. “We heard everything Orlando had to say about us in the offseason,” Lebron James said. “It’s not like it’s satisfying. I’m not relieved, because it’s a long season. But they know we’re here for the long haul. We know they’re going to be there also, but this is a different Miami Heat team. There’s only so many words to be said. At this point, the ball has to be thrown up now.”
That much is true. The time for talk has passed and the season is upon us. To beat the Heat, Orlando will need to handle the defensive pressure with crisp ball movement and excellent mid-range shooting. Miami proved to be very effective at chasing the Magic off the 3point line, but Orlando refused to step in as Heat defenders scampered by. Instead they hoisted contested 3’s and shot 4-24 from beyond the arc. YUCK! This early season clash of the titans did not live up the hype. More importantly it did not live up to the expectations the Magic have of themselves.
So here is what we know going forward. Orlando did beat who they were supposed to beat the night before. The Heat were the better team that night but are not 26 points better. Orlando is improved but getting the respect they feel they deserve will have to be done the old fashioned way. To earn that respect the Magic don’t’ need to talk, don’t need to make gestures, and don’t need to taunt anybody. Just play!
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com