The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats by the score of 100-86 to extend their winning streak to two games. This was a simple case of the Magic being the better team. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard had a quiet game for his standards, finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Brandon Bass was solid, contributing with 17 points and three blocks. Gilbert Arenas had one of his better games in a Magic uniform, coming off the bench and putting up 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. Jameer Nelson had 13 points and seven assists, while Jason Richardson chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds. Perhaps learning their lesson from Wednesday’s loss against the Sacramento Kings, it must have been encouraging for head coach Stan Van Gundy to see the players for Orlando put in the requisite amount of energy and effort needed for them to come away with the victory. The Magic didn’t take for granted playing against an inferior opponent and instead went to work. Defensively, the focus was there for Orlando. For the most part, the team defense from the Magic was satisfactory. There were breakdowns defensively, sure, but they were far and few between. And the individual defense for the Orlando players was just as good.
Granted, the Bobcats aren’t a team that’s going to light up the scoreboard, given that they’re 25th in offensive efficiency. Plus, there wasn’t much that Hedo Turkoglu (or any other player for that matter) could do to prevent Stephen Jackson from dropping 35 points. But the Magic tried. Even though Jackson had a big night, Orlando did make him work for his points but — usually — great offense beats great defense depending on the situation. There were a number of possessions where it seemed like Jackson dribbled himself into a difficult situation, but he was able to shoot himself out of it consistently. It happens.
In some respects, Jackson was forced to carry the load on offense for Charlotte, given that his teammates didn’t do much to contribute. Part of that was the Magic’s ability to contain players like D.J. Augustin and Boris Diaw, but part of that was also the offensive incompetence of the Bobcats’ supporting cast. When Gerald Henderson is being relied upon to score and responds by missing 11 of 13 shots, Charlotte isn’t going to win many games.
Usually that’s a stat-line that Magic fans are familiar with when it comes to Arenas but he played surprisingly well. Arenas’ jumpshot had proper lift, while he was also able to get involved in several post ups. Van Gundy wisely called upon Arenas to take advantage of Augustin on the low block whenever possible, and that turned out to be a matchup that was exploited several times. In fact, there’s no reason why Arenas shouldn’t have his back to the basket more. By NBA standards, Arenas is a big and strong point guard. When his jumpshot isn’t falling, Van Gundy should explore posting Arenas more often. That way there’s less pressure on Arenas to try to shoot all the time on the perimeter. It’s something to consider.