Due to a decisive edge in rebounding and three-point shooting, the Orlando Magic routed the New Orleans Hornets, 121-86, in a neutral-site game in Wichita, Kansas. Orlando sank a remarkable 19 three-pointers, and outrebounded New Orleans by a 44-25 margin. Power forward Ryan Anderson, getting his first-ever preseason start for the Magic, led all scorers with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting (6-of-9 from three-point range). Michael Pietrus was the second-highest man, with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting (5-of-6 on threes) in 25 minutes. He also had what might be the most eye-popping number in the boxscore: a plus/minus rating of +48, meaning the Magic outscored the Hornets by nearly two points per minute during Pietrus' time on the floor.
For me, the biggest takeaway from this game is defense. The Magic limited Chris Paul, the game's best point guard, to 13 points and 6 assists in 23 minutes, forcing him to shoot 2-of-8 from the field. Only David West, Julian Wright, and Marcus Thornton managed to shoot better than 50% from the field individually for the Hornets, and the rest of the team connected on 15 of its 52 shot attempts. I hesitate to read to deeply into preseason performances, but the Magic should be pleased with their defense in general. Over 5 games, the Magic have yielded 464 points in 462 possessions, for a defensive rating of 100.4; additionally, they've only allowed an effective field goal percentage of 43.8%. That's tremendous.
What isn't so tremendous, however, is the offense, or at least portions of it. Turnovers continue to derail the Magic. Look at the four factors chart above: doesn't it boggle your mind that the Magic managed 134.8 points per 100 possessions while turning it over more often than one-in-four times down the court? It makes me wonder what the victory margin would have been like were they not to waste one-fourth of their possessions. Really, think about that for a second.
Finally, how about Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat? The Magic's reserves at power forward and center, respectively, combined for 21 points and 20 rebounds. Indeed, that twosome approximated New Orleans' entire rebounding total on its own, and they're bench players on this Magic team. Performances like tonight really illustrate Orlando's depth relative to that of the other above-average teams in the league, although we should not that New Orleans' front-line was exceptionally thin tonight, as starting center Emeka Okafor and reserve power forward Ike Diogu sat out with injuries. Still, impressive performances from Bass and Gortat, and everyone else in Magic pinstripes. What a game.