The Orlando Magic used their superior inside presence on both ends of the floor in dealing the Golden State Warriors a 117-90 defeat in a game whose outcome was never in doubt after halftime. Magic center Dwight Howard led everyone with 28 points and 12 boards in just 32 minutes, while Rashard Lewis scored 17 points and Vince Carter added 15. Orlando got just about whatever it wanted against Golden State, which dressed only 8 players, as it scored 70 points in the paint and held a commanding edge on the glass, 58-29. In a not entirely unforeseeable event, Brandon Bass got Lewis' backup minutes at power forward for the third straight game, and he responded with 10 points and a season-high 7 rebounds in 17 minutes of work. He hadn't scored as many points or logged as much floor time since December 2nd against New York, when he scored 17 points in 18 minutes against the Knicks' smallish front line.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
After the game, ever-quotable Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said, "I'll find out how good you guys are tonight if you actually have questions about that game." UPDATE: the Orlando Sentinel now has video of the presser, which shows Van Gundy at his happy best. That's kind of how I feel. The Warriors, in their current state, are easily 27 points worse than Orlando on the second night of a back-to-back on the road. Howard should go for 28 and 12 against the center tandem of Ronny Turiaf and Chris Hunter. Carter and Jameer Nelson should be able to run the small/small pick-and-roll with devastating effectiveness against Golden State's defensively indifferent wings. In this way, you simply nod in approval after such a performance, and more enthusiastically at the difficult left-handed shots Carter sank in traffic when the help-side defense took away his right hand. Tonight was yet another instance of the Magic simply taking care of business, to use a hideous cliche.
The Magic scored 123.7 points per 100 possessions despite shooting horrendously (5-of-21) from three-point, which really highlights the ridiculous edge they had inside. Sure, a lot of that is Howard posting up and getting things done. But it's also Matt Barnes gettingc converting his three offensive rebounds into 6 second-chance points with what might be the quickest putback release I've ever seen from a wing player. It's Nelson, the point guard, tallying 6 boards, which exceeds the individual mark of any Warrior save for recent D-League call-up Reggie Williams. It's Carter not even having the opportunity to settle for jumpers because the lane was so wide-open. Yes, the Warriors blocked 6 shots, which is 1 more than the Magic managed. But again, they also gave up 70 points in the paint, so what does that say about their success rate?
For me, the biggest takeaway in this game is that Bass seems to have taken over the backup power forward job from Ryan Anderson, at least for now. Each year in the Van Gundy era, there's been at least one job up for grabs. Two years ago, it was the backup point guard position, where Van Gundy simply rode whichever of Carlos Arroyo and Keyon Dooling had performed better. Arroyo even challenged Nelson for the starting job in February, but was out of the rotation entirely in the playoffs. Last season, it was shooting guard, with Van Gundy choosing between Mickael Pietrus, Keith Bogans, and Courtney Lee before settling on Lee. I don't expect Bass' promotion to be permanent, in other words.
Tonight, he played well, for the most part, even paired with Howard. At times Bass drew double-teams in the low post, which was strange to see. He shot just 3-of-8, but his effort and energy were never in question. He blew only one defensive assignment that I saw: a pick-and-roll in the second period which resulted in Ronny Turiaf getting a wide-open slam. Yes, blowing a single assignment is progress for Bass, who's struggled on D this year. And he had his low points, like getting one shot blocked from behind by Devean George. It's not clear how much the level of competition--he spent much of the night matched up with George, who entered the league as a shooting guard 11 years ago--affected his totals, but he's contributing more than Anderson has lately. Hm.
Anderson got some garbage-time minutes, but didn't do much with them. He missed all 5 of his shots in 5 minutes, including an open layup and a just-as-open putback of said layup which left him visibly frustrated.
Magic free-agent target C.J. Watson, a standstill shooter of a point guard, led Golden State with 18 points on 10 shots.