Magic show encouraging signs in win vs. Clippers
By DAVID STEELE
Orlando Magic Play-By-Play Announcer
The Orlando Magic snagged a much needed 94-85 victory Sunday night in southern California over the Los Angeles Clippers. The win put the brakes on a four-game losing streak, and provided a few encouraging signs in the wake of recent troubling losses.
In the first half of the game, the Magic seemed to be running downhill on offense for the first time in weeks. Jameer Nelson was pushing the ball up the floor and Dwight Howard was running hard from end to end. The result: 12 fast break points in the first half.
Considering the Magic had scored just 18 fast break points in the last six games, this felt like an offense running at warp speed. In the second half the Magic added just two more fast break points, but still, perhaps the up-tempo pace of the first half is something to be built on.
Orlando also put together its best half of basketball on the defensive end in several weeks against the Clippers Sunday night. L.A. had just 40 points at intermission and shot just 30 percent from the field. Dribble penetration was kept to a minimum, and the Magic played with the same energy on the defensive end that enabled them to run the fast break so well on offense.
The Clippers did shoot 47 percent from the floor in the second half, but overall, considering Dwight Howard spent half the game on the bench in foul trouble, it was a strong defensive effort by the Magic.
A few other notes from Sunday night:
-- Brandon Bass was in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game, and is certainly making the most of his opportunity. Bass followed up an 18 point, eight rebound effort in his first start of the season against Utah on Friday night, with a 13 point, 11 rebound game against the Clippers on Sunday.
It was only the 10th start in his NBA career, and his first double/double with the Magic. Bass in the starting lineup provides the Magic with something that Stan Van Gundy is always looking for: High energy at the beginning of the game.
-- Nelson is back to full speed after his bout with a stomach virus. He was the last of five players to come down with the illness, and was not up to par in his first couple of games back after missing three with the bug.
But against Utah and the Clippers, Jameer averaged 18 points and 9.5 assists while hitting six of 13 threes. There's a big challenge coming up for Nelson on Tuesday night, as he goes head to head against long-time antagonist, Chauncey Billips in Denver.
--As previously mentioned, Howard played just half the game in L.A. on Sunday night, but still managed to do plenty of damage against the Clippers. After picking up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, Dwight sat for the rest of the period. But in the fourth quarter he returned with a vengeance, scoring 13 of the Magic