Despite playing on a back-to-back and performing on the road, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Houston Rockets by the score of 118-104 to extend their winning streak to three games. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as seven players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard was a dominant force, finishing with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and two blocks. Hedo Turkoglu played an excellent and efficient game, putting up 21 points (on 8-of-11 shooting), five rebounds, and two blocks. Jason Richardson and Brandon Bass each had 18 points. J.J. Redick as well as Ryan Anderson had 13 and 12 points, respectively. Jameer Nelson chipped in with 10 points and nine assists.
Like Orlando’s win against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, it was the offense that was the difference. There was little the Magic could do offensively and unfortunately for the Rockets, all they could do was watch as they got picked apart on defense. The death knell for Houston, before the game even started, was their lack of size due to the absences of Yao Ming and Brad Miller. As such, Chuck Hayes started at center and though he’s one of the better post defenders in the NBA, that forced the Rockets to double-team Howard and that created problems for them.
For three quarters, when Orlando played with their rotation players, they were clicking on all cylinders offensively. The pick and roll attack with Nelson, Turkoglu, and Arenas as the primary ball-handlers was seamless, post-ups for Howard in 3-out/2-in offensive sets resulted in many easy baskets for the big fella, and the transition offense — as it usually has been since the blockbuster trades — was potent. To be honest, there’s not much else to say about the Magic’s victory. When Orlando makes it look easy, like they did against Houston, it’s as simple as saying that they took care of business against an inferior opponent.
The Magic should be commended for playing with great energy and effort.