Orlando Magic 93, Indiana Pacers 86

Behind Vince Carter's torrid three-point shooting, the Orlando Magic took control of their preseason game against the Indiana Pacers last night with a 33-13 third-quarter burst en route to prevailing by a 93-86 final. Carter scored 15 of his game-high 25 points in the period to help Orlando gain a comfortable lead before he and his fellow starters ceded the court to the reserves, who nearly gave the game away. The strong efforts power forwards Brandon Bass (9 points, 7 rebounds, and a team-high 3 blocks) and Ryan Anderson (16 rebounds in 23 minutes) put forth would have been the highlights regardless of whether or not Orlando won in the end. Pacers point guards Darren Collison and A.J. Price combined for 33 points, but they weren't nearly enough on a night when their team couldn't get any clean looks against a stout Magic defense.

Team Pace Efficiency eFG% FT Rate OReb% TO Rate
Magic 97 96.0 42.2% 36.4 28.3 18.6
Pacers 98 94.3 42.1% 31.6 23.9 20.4
Green denotes a stat better than the team's 2009/10 average;
red denotes a stat worse than the team's 2009/10 average.

The hot topics cropping up Tuesday's preseason opener, with Dwight Howard showcasing a more refined offensive game and with Rashard Lewis shifting to the low post, cooled off tonight. Though Lewis, starting at small forward rather than his usual power forward slot, did get some touches inside, he spent most of the evening as a fourth option and didn't really register, scoring just 5 points in 20 minutes. Howard missed 6 of his 8 shot attempts and 8 of his 14 free-throw attempts, in addition to missing both of his jumpers pretty badly. And Mike Dunleavy, of all people, managed to block one of his hooks. So as far as those two guys go, it's back to square one.

Bass put in a good effort tonight on both ends of the floor, and appears to be much more comfortable in Orlando's system. What jumps out at me more than the 9 points? The 7 rebounds. Bass has long been a mediocre rebounder, especially defensively. But 5 defensive boards in 20 minutes is a solid effort. Let's see if he can keep it up when he season starts. If so, it'll be hard to keep him out of the rotation.

Anderson had a rough night shooting the ball, missing 10 of his 13 field goal attempts, though that's partially explained away by the fact that he was often the only Magic player on the court who can create offense; he had to take those shots because Lord knows Stanley Robinson wasn't, if you know what I mean. A beastly 16 rebounds for Anderson, who also tallied a block and a steal. He, like Bass, deserves more playing time. But that can only come if Lewis can prove he can capably defend small forwards for a few minutes each game.

Robinson and Malik Allen made their Magic debuts tonight, and neither impressed. Allen sure knows how to foul, tallying 4 personals in 21 minutes. He also is, for whatever reason, not shy about shooting it. The fadeaway over two-defenders he took late in the game, with a wide-open Anderson beyond the arc to his right, was inexcusable even as far as preseason shot-selection is concerned. Meanwhile, the offensively challenged Robinson only mustered 1 shot attempt in his 14 minutes, though he would have had two more had the Magic's lob-dunk plays for him not gone awry. On the first, Indiana's Danny Granger deflected Chris Duhon's lob attempt; on the second, Duhon's lob was well off the mark and sailed out of bounds.

For Robinson to make the team, he has to prove he can defend at the NBA level. He fared OK in his first test tonight, against the high-scoring Granger. The only mistake I saw him make, really, was playing a bit too far off Granger on one first-half drive, which Granger exploited by elevating for a jumper as Mickael Pietrus had to step over from the weak side to contest.

Jameer Nelson ran the offense crisply, with 7 assists and no turnovers. He and Duhon evenly split the point guard minutes at 24 apiece, though the drop-off was steep. Duhon shot 1-of-5 and committed 3 turnovers. His decision-making, particularly late in the game, did not impress.

This game wasn't one we'll want to remember. The Magic's lineup for much of the fourth quarter? Duhon, Pietrus, Robinson, Anderson, and Allen. If that alignment ever sees the court in the regular season, I'll be stunned. The teams combined for 70 foul shots, 35 turnovers, and 35.7 percent shooting. Discounting Carter's white-hot night from beyond the arc, Orlando shot 5-of-25 on treys. Let's just remember Bass' and Anderson's good nights and suppress everything else. Sound good?

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