Orlando Magic Status Check:
Home Record: 24-9
Last 10 Games: 8-2
Streak: Won 4
Last game: 99-96 comeback win over Heat
PPG: 100.3 (11th)
Opponents PPG: 94.3 (5th)
Offensive Rating: 108.4 (11th)
Defensive Rating: 101.9 (3rd)
Pace: 92.2 (16th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .522 (6th)
Turnover Percentage: .141 (25th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: 771 (1st)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .259 (16th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .226 (17th)
Opp. eFG%: .476 (4th)
Opp. TO%: .132 (16th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .226 (1st)
Leading scorer: Dwight Howard (23.2)
Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.
Magic Injury Report:
Gilbert Arenas: sore left knee (played Thursday against Miami)
Daniel Orton: left knee surgery (out indefinitely)
Another tough road test for the Bulls tonight, this one comes after a major failure in their last game. The Magic are coming off a very similar game, except from the winning side.
The Bulls-Hawks game had more ups and downs than a weekend out with Charlie Sheen. And it ended on a major downer, which I assume is how a weekend like that would end. Oh, and Charlie Sheen is “Winning.” But enough pop culture references. The loss was extremely disappointing.
The letdown during that crappy second half that cost Chicago the game was staggering, especially coming after such a great first half. During those second 24 minutes Rose turned the ball over on far too many of his “jump in the air, then pass across court” drives. And many of those led straight to fast-break buckets. Rose took the blame for the loss and guaranteed “it won’t happen again.” Obviously he will have a bad game again in his career, but he has been taking challenges upon himself all season, so why should this be any different?
Noah also blamed himself, saying that he didn’t have the same intensity level in the second half that he normally does. And the rest of the team feeds off of that intensity. Boozer got pushed around like a shopping cart, and Al Horford walked all over Chicago’s defense matching a career high 31 points. It’s like he had tiger blood in his system (OK I’m seriously done now).
Now the Bulls have another big-man test. Dwight Howard and his team will enter the game with tons of confidence coming off such a huge comeback win. They beat Miami on the road, after coming back from a 24-point deficit, including a 40-9 run at one point in the game. You read that correctly. 40-9. According to Stats LLC, the Heat led 73-49 with nine minutes left in the third, but allowed the Magic to complete the second largest comeback in franchise history.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Magic are the only team to beat the Spurs, Heat, Celtics, Lakers, Mavs, Bulls, and Thunder this season.
In the second half of the Atlanta game, Chicago scored 30 points. The Magic allowed only 33 points in the second half against Miami. Those numbers don’t look good.
But let the Magic and Heat beat up on each other; that’s perfectly fine with me (Chicago faces Miami on Sunday). The Magic are in a very tough part of their schedule: games against the Knicks, Heat and Bulls. In last night’s game the Magic couldn’t let up at all. They needed all 48 minutes to win, and their starters played a lot of minutes (Turkoglu: 31, Howard: 45, Jason Richardson: 40, Jameer Nelson: 35).
Chicago will have to win on the road in the playoffs, and after Wednesday’s missed chance, they know how important this game is. “As we fine-tune for the playoffs,” Boozer said, “the No. 1 thing is, can we win on the road? If we want to go as far as we believe we can, we’ve got to be able to beat Boston on the road, to beat Orlando on the road, to beat Miami on the road, to beat Atlanta on the road.”
As Matt said after the last game, basketball lasts for 48 minutes, and if you take 24 of those minutes off, there is a good chance you will lose. The Bulls and Miami learned that the hard way. Now Chicago needs to play hard for the full game. After what Chicago said following their loss to Atlanta, I wouldn’t expect anything else.
Match-up to watch:
A match-up of strengths in this one; Derrick Rose versus Dwight Howard. Howard is the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year and is regarded as one of the best if not the best defensive stopper/shot blocker in the league. He averages 2.2 blocks per game, and alters countless other shots. Derrick Rose, by my unofficial count, averages 2.3 crazy lay-ups per game. Rose also averages 3.6 makes at the rim per game.
But so far this season against the Magic, Rose has shot 5-13 and 6-21 from the field.
Hilarity matchup to watch:
Keith Bogans offensive prowess vs. J.J. Redick’s defensive footwork. Can Bogans do this to Redick?
Oh yes, and this one too.
About the Author:Braedan Ritter was born and raised in Pennsylvania but was swayed by gifts from his aunt to follow the Chicago sports teams. It didn’t hurt that the Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan playing for them, and the Sixers had…Derrick Coleman. Braedan has stuck with Chicago through thick and thin, and really thin (see: Chicago Cubs). And speaking of Coleman, Braedan is currently a student at Syracuse University.