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Magical Fail in Chicago: Recap and Reaction

January 29, 2011

After playing possibly the worst quarter of basketball since the new trades during last night’s 3rd quarter, the Magic were defeated in Chicago by a score of 99-90.  The Magic wasted an all-time great game by Dwight Howard who scored 40 points, pulled down 15 rebounds and also picked up 4 steals and blocked 3 shots.

Outside of Dwight Howard, the rest of the team shot 18-58 (31%) from the field and looked like they completely fell apart once Jameer Nelson wasn’t running the show.  Jameer left the game after only 8 minutes with tendonitis in his knee and did not return.  It’s been reported by the Sentinel that it is not expected to be a serious issue.

There was so much wrong with this game that it’s hard to hit on it all.  Instead, lets take a look at what people are saying around the web:

Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post thought that missing Jameer was just too much to overcome:

Nelson would have helped the Magic tonight tremendously, as he’s shown throughout his career he can get past Rose off the dribble and can beat coach Tom Thibodeau’s defensive schemes with his passing. Arenas does neither of those things, which may have contributed to Orlando’s wing players struggling mightily on offense.

On top of Arenas doing neither of those things, Gil had horrendous shot selection and was jacking up bad jumpers all night.  Gil is a scorer and a volume shooter, we all know that, but he was improving on his distribution and trusting his teammates.  When those teammates weren’t knocking down shots tonight, Gil reverted back to his old bad habits.

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel says that Jameer or not, the defense and the energy were the issues:

Still, (Jameer’s) absence didn’t allow Luol Deng to dominate the second half. Nelson’s departure also doesn’t explain why the Bulls outrebounded the Magic by double digits.

In that same article, Dwight would call out the wings and their overall defense:

“We can’t win games playing defense like this. If you want to be a championship team, everybody’s got to step up and play ‘D,’ no matter who’s on the floor, Jameer or not. Our guys on the wing have got to be able to guard a little bit better.”

Consider that Dwight being nice.  Luol Deng abused the Magic wings, specifically Hedo Turkoglu, all night and dropped 26 points.  Overall, the Bulls had 7 players who had at least 5 rebounds.  The Magic had 2. That SCREAMS defensive effort and intensity.

Stan Van Gundy harped on that same note with two very telling and truthful quotes:

“It was really bad on both ends of the floor, and they played a lot harder than we did. But it started because we were trying to double-team Boozer. Our double-teams were soft. We didn’t rotate very hard. We didn’t do anything hard, and he picked us apart, and they knocked down shots.”

Re: Turk’s defense… “I was disappointed,” Van Gundy said. “I think that Turk’s capable of far better defense than that. I thought it was Turk’s worst night at both ends of the floor. I just thought that he didn’t have much tonight. He didn’t play well at either end.”

Final note: This was a disheartening loss against one of the best teams in the East.  I think it’s fair to say that the Bulls have firmly entrenched themselves at the moment as at least the 3rd best team in the East and without a doubt in front of Orlando.  The Magic have a lot to work on and if their defense does not improve, they have no chance of winning a series against teams like Boston and Miami (at full strength) or even Chicago.  Remember, the Bulls aren’t even at full strength at the moment with Joakim Noah still sidelined.

The Magic are back at home on Sunday against the lowly Cavs who have lost 19 straight.  After the second half performance last night, even that game is looking like it may be tough.  Tipoff is set for 6pm.

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