Two games, two of 82! One game vs the San Antonio Spurs who are often considered Boston West due to the consistent comments about their age and one against The SOBE Three, Miami Heat. Two games with two different outcomes.
Monday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs was a great measuring stick for the Magic. The Spurs came into the match up winners of 10 straight and the Magic hoped to steal one from San Antonio on their home floor. 29 lead changes took place in a closely contested game that had the energy and competitive nature that fit the billing for two teams of their caliber. Dwight Howard dominated the paint with a 26pt 18reb effort but the Magic could not overcome their 16 turnovers and Manu Ginobili’s 25pts, becoming the 11 straight victim of the Spurs 106-97. Ginobili hit a clutch 3 at the 2:09 mark that put the Spurs up for good for the final lead change of the night. “I thought it was a great basketball game and it went right down to the 2-minute mark,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We had (Mickael Pietrus’) wide-open 3 (attempt) in transition to go back ahead. But for us to be able and win a game like that against a team like this one the road there are two problems we have to get cured: one is the turnovers. … And the second thing is we have to close down the paint and close out on shooters. We’re just not doing that well, and they shot the ball extremely well. Versus the best teams where you have to keep the ball out of the paint and then close has to improve.’’ Van Gundy continues to speak openly and honestly about the teams shortcomings and even his own as a coach at times. No shame in this loss in theory but it was a winnable game for the Magic men.
Wednesday’s match-up with the struggling Heat was an opportunity to even the season series after being embarrassed on the Heat’s home floor back on October 29, 96-70. The Heat came into the game with questions swirling about their inability to gel after losing two straight games (Memphis and the woeful Indiana Pacers). Two schools of thought reigned…either the Magic would continue to kick a Miami team while they or down or the Heat would send a resounding message that rumors of their demise are vastly overstated. The Magic did the former and sent the Heat to their 3rd consecutive loss 104-95. Dwight Howard again exposed the Heat’s lack of interior defense on his way to 24pts and 18reb but the Magic got inspired play from just about every player including Rashard Lewis. Vince Carter missed the game with a sprained knee but J.J. Reddick didn’t miss a beat tallying 22pts, 5ast, and 4 rebs filling in for Carter and playing a season high 40mins. He and Jameer Nelson 17pts and 14ast (career high) were the keys to the Magic win. “We just wanted to play them better and learn from our mistakes from that first game,’’ said Nelson, “We’re mature enough as a team to understand what went wrong in that first game and get it fixed this time around.’’ Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortan again continued their strong play off the bench. Bass is something special offensively and he carried the team much of the first half on his way to 18pts and 6rebs.
An interesting caveat to the Heat/Magic game was the fact that both Jason Williams and Jameer Nelson were ejected from the game. Williams inexplicable through the ball in the direction of Jamaal Magloire’s head after a play had ended, then claimed he was trying to throw the ball over Maglorie’s shoulder to return it to the referees. Nelson taunted the Heat bench and the forever chatty Eddie House and was tossed after receiving his 2nd technical of the evening with just 39 seconds left in the game after he was fouled. On one hand it is good to know the Magic are not easily intimidated but there are better ways of showing your swag and confidence than exhibited by Williams and Nelson.
A championship is not won in November but messages can certainly be sent especially in the case of Heat/Magic. The team had to fight and learn from the loss in San Antonio in order to hold off the Heat but in the end they were just two of 82. Sure…
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