And the game balls go to…

By DAVID STEELE
Orlando Magic Play-By-Play Announcer
Feb. 13, 2011

Just as it is unwise to lend too much credence to any single defeat, it is prudent not to get too carried away with any one victory, but Sunday afternoon at the Amway Center the Orlando Magic played their best all-around game of the season against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Offensively, the Magic utilized the combination of Dwight Howard’s dominant inside play with solid perimeter performances by Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas and J.J. Redick to shoot 48 percent from the field.

Defensively, they held the Lakers to 39 percent shooting (3rd lowest of the season), and a season low 2 of 16 from beyond the arc.

Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu defended 13-time all-star Bryant well. For the most part the Magic kept the 13-time all-star out of the lane and contested his jump shots. Bryant finished with just 17 hard earned points on 8 of 18 shooting.

Game Balls

Dwight Howard — The all-star center was at the top of his game, scoring 31 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking three shots. The Lakers defended him straight up with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and even though Howard rarely sees so much length and athleticism from opposing centers, he gave the Magic a decisive edge on the inside.

Brandon Bass — Thirteen days ago Bass suffered a significant ankle sprain in a game at Memphis. Remarkably, he was not only back on the floor Sunday against the Lakers, but was very effective against LA’s big front line. In 29 minutes, Bass grabbed eight rebounds and scored six points, while playing tenacious defense on Gasol and Lamar Odom.

Bass worked extremely hard to get back onto the court so quickly after a bad ankle sprain, and performed incredibly well in his first game back. It is easy to pull for a guy who brings that blue-collar, lunch pail approach to his job.

Earl Clark — Clark played well for the Magic in six games while Bass rehabbed his ankle, and apparently does not intend to slip back into obscurity now that Bass has returned. In just 10 minutes on Sunday, Clark scored six points, snared four rebounds and blocked a shot.

Consider this: The young forward played in only his 76th NBA game Sunday against the Lakers. His confidence is growing, and he may just the back-up frontcourt player the Magic need to challenge the bigger teams in the league.