Progression often comes at the cost of sacrifice. An important fact that Magic fans should remember after a less than impressive week in terms of actual wins. Orlando topped Atlanta 93-89 on Monday in a closely contested game to start the week. Wednesday the Magic lead by as many as 18 before allowing the comeback masters Utah Jazz to rally to a 104-94 victory. Friday saw the team in a stunning battle against the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors were without much of their regular rotation but saw 2nd year guard DeMar DeRozan rise to the occasion as he torched the Magic on his way to 26 points in a 110–106 win for the Raptors. Saturday Net’s center Brook Lopez looked like a new man against Dwight Howard. Lopez went to work early with his mechanical post moves and feathery jumper and induced Howard into foul trouble that kept Dwight’s minutes limited throughout the night. Nevertheless despite Howard’s limited minutes, some key missed free throws by Nelson, the Magic produced a win 91-90. Nelson made an improbable fade away jumper rolling left over the outstretched hand of Lopez to seal the win for the Magic. “Just like we drew it up, miss the free throws, make the two.” said Nelson after the game.
Certainly Nelson’s jests but Orlando is progressing despite finishing the week at a modest 2-2. Yes, they could have very easily been 1-3 and the Toronto loss was pretty bad but I choose to look at the glass half full and here is why:
1. Nelson and Carter both returned from minor injuries and played well in their returns this week. Nelson played particularly well averaging 18.3pg, 6.3apg, and 3rebs including the game winner in New Jersey.
2. Mickael Pietrus came off the bench in the final two games of the week to average 18 points and made a staggering 12 three pointers in the two games. Granted Pietrus might become a little trigger happy after shooting 71% from beyond the arc but we all know that 3’s are the Magic way.
3. Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass are contributing big minutes and providing the front line depth that can contend with the Celtics and Lakers. The development of Bass in the rotation is amazing to witness. He is bully on the blocks and has the touch to knock down jumpers from 16-18 feet away. Why didn’t Van Gundy go to him last year again?
4. J.J. Reddick has yet to come around offensively and the team is still playing at a high level. To Reddick’s credit he is not allowing his poor shooting to affect his pesky defense and is still getting minutes as a result. Once J.J. finds his “J” again the Magic bench will be especially difficult for teams to contend with.
Coach Van Gundy is still settling on a rotation as evidenced by Pietrus’ two DNPCD that began the week and then 54 combined minutes in the next two games that ended the week. Van Gundy seems to be buying into the trend of coaches playing the hot hand leaving their starters on the bench for extended minutes. The common thinking is that this preserves your starters for the stretch run but also develops your bench so that they feel comfortable logging crucial minutes. The Magic will take a few lumps as this process continues and fans would be wise to treat the situation like vegetables. You may not like it but in the long run they are good for you.
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