After an uninspiring stretch where the Magic lost 3 out of 4 games, Team Blue is getting back on track. Tuesday evening the Magic survived one of the ugliest games of the season defeating the notoriously poor shooting Milwaukee Bucks 78-72. Wednesday evening was far more entertaining. With their slim playoff hopes in the balance the Bobcats hosted the Magic in Charlotte. Orlando showed its trademark character and battled back to steal a win 111-102 effectively ending Charlotte’s hopes of making the playoffs this year. Orlando was led by Gilbert Arenas (25 points) but had a balanced offensive attack with 6 players reaching double figures.
The Bobcats had the game won and led most of the way clinging to a 6 point lead entering the 4th quarter. A late game collapse coupled with a bully like shove by Quentin Richardson on Gerald Henderson rattled Charlotte and forced the game into OT. (Richardson was ejected for his antics and will face a suspension pending league review) Once in overtime Orlando blitzed the dazed Bobcats with a 12-2 run showing their superiority to gain win number 50 on the season.
Two things stick out in this game:
- In the 2nd quarter Dwight Howard received his 18th technical foul which if upheld will result in another one game suspension. Howard was called for a 10 second violation at the free throw line and threw the ball in disgust away from the refs as if to say “go fetch”. Needless to say the soft egos of the NBA officials were bruised and the whistle was quickly blown.
- Gilbert Arenas helped carry the team to victory scoring 25 points in a start for the resting Jason Richardson. Arenas buried 6 three pointers on his way to his Orlando Magic season high.
The Magic clinched the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference which has been a foregone conclusion for weeks now but the team is more worried about its own chemistry. “We’re just playing as a group to get better as we’re getting close to the playoffs” said Hedo Turkgolu “When the time comes … we just have to be conditioned right and be at the highest level we can and try to do our best.” Luckily the offense seems to be spreading out a little better which will relieve some of the pressure put on Howard’s broad shoulders. However, the Magic can’t be at its best if Howard is unable to contain his temper and misses games.
Jason Richardson is not seriously injured and should be back on Sunday for the game against the Bulls but the Magic have to be encouraged to see life out of Gilbert Arenas. To date Arenas has not justified the trade and faith GM Otis Smith showed by acquiring him, but tonight’s game is obviously a step in the right direction. J.J. Redick is also due back shortly and his return will complete the Magic rotation heading into the playoffs. At this point the team has nothing to play for other than improving on the chemistry Turkgolu mentioned. That is a dangerous proposition for a team that has shown to be inconsistent throughout the season. Coach Van Gundy will have a difficult task trying to infuse team chemistry while not risking injury and giving his players proper rest before the playoffs. The Magic will next face the Bulls on Sunday at 1pm on ABC’s NBA Showcase.
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