Second Look: Orlando Magic 123, San Antonio Spurs 101 | Magic Basketball

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Dec 24

Second Look: Orlando Magic 123, San Antonio Spurs 101

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Gilbert Arenas walked into the Orlando Magic locker room Thursday afternoon and found a handwritten note sitting on his chair. It was from his new coach, Stan Van Gundy. Go out there and play your game. Don’t try to fit in. Push the ball. Arenas heeded that advice hours later, leading the Orlando Magic to a convincing 123-101 win over the team with the NBA’s best record, the San Antonio Spurs. […] Arenas scored 14 points, dished out nine assists and collected six rebounds in easily the best performance of his brief tenure with the Magic. The note helped. […] And, with starting point guard Jameer Nelson feeling sick, it was Arenas who provided the spark. Arenas entered the game late in the first quarter, with the Magic trailing 24-18, and made an almost immediate impact. The Magic cut the Spurs’ lead to 24-23 when Arenas dished to J.J. Redick for a 3-pointer. On Orlando’s next possession, Arenas swished a 20-foot jumper. On the possession after that, he drained a trey from the top of the arc to give Orlando a 28-26 lead. The Magic never trailed again.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “It was only one game, a big game given the circumstances, and maybe too early to draw conclusions. But you can see the writing. Not only on the wall, but on Stan Van Gundy’s clipboard. After six-plus seasons as Magic cornerstone with Dwight Howard, point guard Jameer Nelson probably saw what everyone else did. Gilbert Arenas has arrived (and didn’t set off any metal detectors). The only thing Arenas was packing Thursday night was an all-round game that sparked the Magic’s rout of the San Antonio Spurs. A Magic P.R. person came by in the third quarter to tell some of us media types that Nelson was sick, curious timing, given that Van Gundy had just pulled Nelson and he didn’t look happy. (He later played in the final period and didn’t appear to need Pepto-Bismol later). He might feel queasier today. Nelson could go from a full-time starter to a full-time bench player, all but completing a wholesale change in the Magic’s make-up after two trades.”
  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Gilbert Arenas’ 14-point, nine-assist performance against the Spurs Thursday night showed what Arenas can bring to this team — energy, smart passing and the ability to score quickly and in bunches. And it was also the type of performance that made some wonder how long the Magic can keep him out of the starting lineup. When Stan Van Gundy was asked about Arenas potentially starting over Jameer Nelson, he responded, ‘Could it change? Sure.’ Arenas, however, didn’t leave so much wiggle room. ‘I’m coming off the bench,’ Arenas said. ‘Jameer’s starting and Jason [Richardson] … that’s the group. I’m coming off the bench and I do what I do. I don’t want to start. This team is too talented.’ ”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Gilbert Arenas came tearing off a screen and to his right he had Jason Richardson slashing along the baseline, to his left Hedo Turkoglu was positioned for a 3-pointer and down the middle Dwight Howard rolled to the rim. Arenas’ vision, the same one likely shared by Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith when he pulled off two blockbuster trades five days ago, finally came to fruition Thursday night, and a nationally televised audience and a sellout crowd at Amway Center got to witness it in all its glory. With Arenas sparking his new team with his shooting and playmaking, the Magic delivered their finest performance since adding four new players, throttling the red-hot San Antonio Spurs 123-101 in convincing fashion. Out of Washington and on a championship contender in Orlando, Arenas had to feel like a kid getting to open his Christmas presents early considering all of the weapons he had surrounding him.”
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “The potentially scary thought for the rest of the league is that the Magic have yet to reach their offensive ceiling. With more variety in their playbook and several offensive options, they’ll be among the league’s more difficult covers. But let’s not get carried away with ourselves, either: adding that variety, and becoming comfortable with it, will take a lot of time. Further, and as Van Gundy said, ‘we’re not going to be able to run up and down like that every night,’ so their games could get ugly without improved halfcourt offense. All that considered, tonight’s game demonstrates the frightening, ruthless efficiency with which the Magic can steamroll an opponent with their new roster, when given enough opportunities to push the pace.”
  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: “You could almost see a game like the Spurs’ debacle Thusday night in Orlando coming. A 10-game winning streak had masked the truth and caused many in Spurs Nation to gloss over how close  some of those Spurs’ recent victories were — or some of the circumstances around them. Like beating Memphis when leading scorer Rudy Gay was out of the lineup. Or catching Phoenix without three new acquisitions were in the lineup. Or when Carmelo Anthony was missing from Denver’s lineup Tuesday night because of a death in his family. It finally caught up with them Thursday night when the new-look Orlando Magic blew the Spurs out with a convincing 123-101 victory that snapped San Antonio’s 10-game winning streak and also ended a four-game losing streak for the Magic.”
  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: “All-NBA center Dwight Howard, who remains the centerpiece of a team that was in the NBA Finals just two seasons back, was the most accurate of Orlando’s uncanny shooters. He made 11 of 13 shots and scored 29 points. He also grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked three shots, as well as changing several more that turned into Spurs misses. […] Howard had help from his new friends, especially Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson, the key pieces of the two separate deals Smith negotiated with the Wizards and Suns. Richardson, starting in the big-guard spot held by Vince Carter before the Dec. 18 deal, made 7 of 14 shots and scored 15 points, all in the first three quarters. Coming off the bench, Arenas scored 14 and added nine assists and six rebounds, altering the nature of a tight game with his play in the second and third quarters, when the Magic scored 34 and 35 points — both highs for Spurs opponents this season for those periods — to blow open a tight game.”
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