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Orlando Magic 96, Philadelphia 76ers 87: The Morning After

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  • Brian Schmitz provides his post-game assessment of the game:  
    The athletic, wildly confident Sixers have forced the Magic to change their identity as a freewheeling band of 3-point shooters and find other ways to score.

    With Philly smothering long-range threats Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, Orlando hit just 6-of-23 shots from downtown and is an icy 11-of-41 (27 percent) in the two games.

    It got to the point during a telltale Game 2 in which they had to again lean on their only rookie for points.

Courtney Lee played like a veteran again, leading the Magic with a career-high 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting.
  • Mike Bianchi, never afraid to offer his opinion, goes out of his way to praise the ol' coach:
    Stan Van Gundy is once again the guru of a championship-caliber basketball team. The coach of the Magic pushed and prodded and goaded and goosed his team to a desperate, do-or-die victory Wednesday night. He pressed all the right buttons; he made all the right moves.

    In other words, he pretty much did all the same things he did during Game 1 except for one major difference — the Magic defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 96-87 in Game 2 to once again make everything right in the Magic kingdom.

    But if you're going to blame Van Gundy for the Magic inexplicably blowing Game 1, don't you have to give him credit for putting them in position to win Game 2? For having the guts and the gamesmanship to ride an upstart rookie (Lee) and an aging veteran (point guard Anthony Johnson) in a must-win situation?
  • David Whitley appreciates the fact the Orlando Magic are facing the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. Here's why:
    T.G.I.PH.

That's not a typo, I'm just trying to be hip. And as all us hipsters know, "PH" is another way to spell "F."

    It was on a two-word sign at Amway Arena on Wednesday. I can't tell you what it said, but the second word was "Philadelphia" and the first one is traditionally spelled with four letters.



    It was funny in an adult way. And in that spirit, I think I speak for every Magic fan when I say Thank God It's Philly. If Orlando were playing a more dangerous team, the playoffs would be over before May Day.
  • Kyle Hightower points out that the Magic bench will be a key if the team wants to advance to the second round:
    If the Magic are going to make it safely out of their first-round series, they are going to need some help from their bench to do it.

    In Game 1's loss, Orlando's bench was pretty much run out of Amway Arena by their Philadelphia counterparts en route to being embarrassingly outscored 42-13.

    It wasn't a huge shock with the Magic's bench scoring ranking near the bottom of the league in points per game for most of the year. But with starting forwards Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu struggling to find their shots, their lack of production was more glaring.



    Wednesday's Game 2 wasn't a complete turning of the page, though it was a start for a team that will likely be embracing unconventional ways to win moving forward.


    The Magic's bench had a 14-7 advantage over the 76ers bench at the halftime, led by Anthony Johnson's seven points.



    They finished the night with just an 18-12 edge, but it was enough of an impact to help the Magic wrap up a close win.
    I'd like to make note that although the Magic's bench ranks near the bottom of the league in points per game, that's a skewed statistic. As I pointed out a bit over a month ago, if you eliminate the minutes factor (which inflates or deflates production) and concentrate solely on points per 100 possessions, the reserves for Orlando rank 15th as a unit (right behind, of all teams, Philadelphia). Additionally, the Magic bench is 10th in plus/minus.
  • Even though Rashard Lewis continues to struggle offensively, the Orlando Sentinel reports some good news regarding Big L:
    It's not showing up in his shooting line after two games, but Magic F Rashard Lewis said the strength of his right knee is improving.

    "[His knee] is surely not a 10, but probably more like 7 right now," Lewis said. "I'm getting better everyday, though, and getting my rhythm back. That's the good thing."
  • How special was Courtney Lee's performance last night against the Sixers? Here's the answer (via the Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.):
    Courtney Lee scored a team-high 24 points in the Magic's Game 2 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night. Lee became the first rookie to lead his team in scoring in a playoff game against the 76ers since Magic Johnson scored 42 points in the series-clinching Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals.
    More rookie numbers - Courtney has scored a total of 42 points after two games in the 2009 playoffs, which is 1 point less than Penny Hardaway's total after his first two games in the 1994 playoffs. Impressive.
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie talks about C. Lee (duh) but leaves some room to praise Rashard Lewis' performance last night:
    I appreciated Rashard Lewis' game. He's paid like an All-Star starter, but we've more or less forgotten that by this point. His shot wasn't falling, but he made a point to get to the glass (eight rebounds) and find Lee among others. Six assists for Lewis, 16 points. [...] turns out that the Sixers match up pretty well with Orlando, so we should see some close games in Pennsylvania.
  • Bethlehem Shoals of the Sporting Blog offers his take on the game:
    That's right, once again, the Orlando Magic very nearly coughed up a comfortable lead in the fourth. Once again, they had to make due without Dwight Howard, after the Defensive Player of the Year fouled out in the fourth. But luckily, rookie Courtney Lee was there, stepping in to score a career high 24 points. [...]

    There's no question that, if the Magic get it together, they should be able to get this series under wraps, even on the road. The question everyone's asking, though, is why they're having so much trouble doing so.
  • UPDATE: Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus points out what the key to the game was for Orlando in the team's victory over Philadelphia last night:

    The outcome--the Orlando Magic tying its series with the Philadelphia 76ers at one apiece after being upset in Game One--was what we expected. The path was not. The box score looks very little like what we've come to expect from the Magic this season. Absent were the threes on which Orlando has relied all season, as the Magic actually won this game despite being outshot from the field. The NBA's No. 28 team in offensive rebounding came up with 14 second chances, including a couple of crucial ones in the final two-and-a-half minutes.
  • UPDATE 2: Don't forget to check out Depressed FanLiberty BallersPhiladunkia, and Sixers 4 Guidos to get the vibe of the Philly faithful and a chance to read up on their respective Game 2 reactions.
  • UPDATE 3: Here is Dwight's outlook on the game ...
    It was killing me not being able to be out there on the court down the stretch, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in my team to get the job done when we needed it. That’s what it’s going to take for us to keep winning in the playoffs – dudes are going to have to pick each other up when we’re missing shots or in foul trouble.
    ..and also, Howard states what to expect in Philadelphia.
    Philly is going to be crazy playing up there, but we’ve got to weather that storm. We’ve been really good on the road for two seasons and we have to keep that up if we’re going to be championship contenders. We’ll be ready. We all know that it’s a series now.
  • UPDATE 4: David Steele shares his observations after Game 2. 

As is the case with posts like these, expect updates throughout the day as more news and reactions shuffle in around the internet. Grazie.