A gutsy win by the Orlando Magic tonight as they defeat the Miami Heat, 80-77. The Magic led the entire game, holding the Heat to only 33 points in the first two quarters. The O-Rena was full of energy, almost to the level of a playoff game. Dwight Howard finishes the night with another double-double, 15 points and 16 rebounds. Howard had a tough night, but still found ways to contribute. He got a close glimpse of a 21 rebound effort from Alonzo Mourning, showing the youngster how intimidating he can be on his good nights. Mourning is a great player, everyone knows that - but I think Howard got a good look at what his future could be like.
As for the game details, it was exciting from start to finish. I was up off of my seat almost the entire game - and that hasn't happened much in the last 3 or so years. Play of the game was undoubtedly Jameer Nelson's monster rebound amongst giants and subsequent dish to Howard for a monsterous dunk. That exchange brought everyone in the arena to their feet. I don't believe anyone was sitting down for the final minute of the game.
The defense by the Magic was practically perfect. There were a few small problems with perimeter shooters - but nothing to be picky about. DeShawn Stevenson played Dwayne Wade perfectly - so much so that Wade was complaining loudly about being fouled. Personally, I just didn't see it. I thought Stevenson played Wade aggressively and it bothered him.
Offensively, things are coming together for the Magic. We're not at the pretty stage yet, but it sure looks better than anything I've seen in awhile. Hedo Turkoglu is much improved from last year. Turkoglu is cutting to the basket and getting easy points from layups or trips to the foul line. The difference between Hedo this year and last is that he was relying heavily on his outside shot last year. If his shot was not falling, Hedo would end the game with 4 or 5 points. By moving and cutting to the basket more, Hedo allows himself easy baskets when his outside shot is not falling. This gives the Magic a consistent 10-15 points every night.
Three game winning streak. I don't care if the announcers think it's ugly or we don't make Sportscenter - I like these games. Low scoring, rough defense and a lot of energy. Pride and hustle are winning these days.