The Magic gave up major points in the first half by not playing defense. Still though, the game was somewhat close thanks to Tracy McGrady lighting up the Pacers in the second quarter. Throughout the second half the Magic would pull close only to stop playing defense and the lead would go back to double digits. The game was within 10 with 3 minutes to go, but McGrady couldn't find the range from the outside like he had in the previous 3 quarters and no one else on the team could hit any clutch baskets. Juwan Howard had a few good baskets but played horrible defense. At one point, he simply stared as Jermaine O'Neal rebounded and then dunked the ball right in front of him.
Keith Bogans continues to prove that he is going to be a good role player in the NBA. He has consistently provided good minutes with a solid effort each night. Although his numbers are not always a double-double - if you watch the games, he is always after loose balls and rebounds. Bogans does a great job at leaving the smaller defender behind and working the boards. Steven Hunter provided a few good minutes tonight. I will be the first one to tell you straight up that this guy has had a horrible start to his NBA career. I was against drafting him, starting him and keeping him. About the only thing the Magic did right in the past three years with this guy is not pick up his option and took him out of the starting lineup. However, he was very active tonight - running the floor, defending and rebounding. He played good defense on O'Neal - but there were times when he did not block out or simply did not have the full effort. I did see him finally put a body on a guard through one of those screens. If he could pick up the intensity on the defensive side, not look to score (except on offensive rebounds, box out better and dunk the ball with TWO hands - then I could see giving him 10 minutes a game to prove himself. Lee Nailon got his first minutes as a Magic player tonight, scoring 4 points and grabbing 3 offensive rebounds in 9 minutes.
Well, it is not going to get much better. We play Boston tomorrow night at 7pm.