The Magic started the new season with a bang as they beat up on Chicago 109-94. The night before, Chicago embarrassed the Miami Heat. The "Daily Double" Dwight Howard led the way, scoring 27 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Most of Howard's damage came in the first half as the Magic lead by 25 points in the second quarter; the Bulls never led in the game. Grant Hill looked great tonight, starting at shooting guard. Hill finished with 19 points. The Magic got plenty of support from the rest of the team, Jameer Nelson added 21 points and 3 assists and Hedo Turkoglu contributed 11 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Magic played very well - mostly by keeping the Chicago guards in front of them all night. Howard, Battie and Milicic did a good job on the pick-n-roll plays to keep the guards out of the paint. The difference in this game however was Howard and Hill. Although Ben Wallace is an excellent defender - he is also a liability on the floor. He simply does not have the offensive skill-set that someone like Howard does. So unless he is having a monster rebound night, a guy like Howard can easily negate any advantage that Wallace brings to the table. And there is no one on the Chicago team that can guard Grant Hill when he is in transition or posting up. Hill made some difficult plays look very easy against the Bulls.
There are two things the Magic need to improve on from this game. First, the turnovers need to improve - 23 are a bit much. However, I do have to say a couple of those were attempts at lob passes. Second, the Magic have to do a better job of not clogging up the paint and getting the ball in the paint quicker. There were several times when a guard would get a good switch off the pick-n-roll but they could not get the ball inside. All three big men were open at times, but Howard was most often left open with a shorter, smaller player in the paint. Just toss it in there - he'll catch it!
Great game - the crowd was good. In all, a very good night - especially since Chicago beat up on Miami the night before.