Orlando Magic May Still Have A Trick Up Their Sleeve

In his last 3 games Jason Richardson has been playing his best ball as a Magic

Superman may be the most valuable player to the Orlando Magic but with all the talk surrounding other contenders it would seem that this team will have to pull a Houdini if they want to make a serious run this postseason.

Maybe not.

After last night’s tight game versus Portland, the Magic showed that minus their superstar they have the ability to make a fairytale run without the assistance of something miraculous.

On Friday night, Dwight Howard picked up his 16th technical foul of the season, which meant a one game suspension. Tough break for the Magic who so heavily rely on the big 7 footer each and every night on both ends of the floor. Following a loss to the Chicago on the second night of a back to back and the subsequent suspension of Howard, their date in Portland on Monday night was chalked up as a loss by most.

A loss may have been the end result but this game was about more than an inadequate result. The Magic proved to not only everyone, but to themselves that they can hang with a playoff team without their most important player. The Blazers may not be a true championship contender, but this is a team that is still one of the better ones in the NBA, especially with the recent addition of Gerald Wallace.

With the Magic starting undersized power forward Brandon Bass at the center spot, there was every reason for us to believe that Orlando wouldn’t be able to hang with extremely well-coached Blazers.

To say that Dwight Howard’s supporting cast this season has been less than stellar would be just a bit of an understatement. Poor play from intricate components of the original 2010-11 Magic cast prompted GM Otis Smith to make a bold move, acquiring Hedo Turkoglu (again), Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, and Earl Clark. Although that move hasn’t turned out as well as Smith might have liked, last night was as good a reason as any to still believe in the Magic.

For a team that depends on the open looks provided by the attention Howard receives down low, it was promising to see the team compete at the level that they did last night. Down by as much as 14, the Magic battled back on numerous occasions without their superstar.

Role players stepping up. It’s the mark of any great team. The Magic got that last night.

Fight. It’s the mark of any great team. The Magic got that last night.

People tend to forget that this group of guys practically became a new team halfway through the season. They’re still trying to figure it out, much like their cousins, the other, more attention seeking Sunshine State team.

Even though Gilbert Arenas isn’t 100% healthy yet he may actually be finding his groove. Three of his last four performances have been solid bench outings. The Magic probably need a bit more than solid from him, but it’s a good start.

Jason Richardson is beginning to shoot the ball like Jason Richardson can. In his last three games, J-Rich has been an eye-popping 14-19 from beyond the arc. Scary.

You add to the mix a possible return to all-star form from Jameer Nelson, 3 point sharp-shooting from Ryan Anderson and J.J. Reddick, the hustle and heart of Brandon Bass, and a playoff intense Hedo Turkoglu, this misshapen roster may be one to keep your eye on.

Inconsistency, which obviously is not the mark of a great team, is something that has plagued the Magic and will be their biggest obstacle to overcome.

Nevertheless, with Dwight Howard playing the best ball of his entire career there’s no telling what this Orlando Magic team can do if they can put it all together. Monday night could just be the day that Orlando Magic fans look back upon as the spot where it all changed for the better.

This is a team that isn’t ready to compete with the league’s best and they aren’t at the level of a Chicago or a Boston.

At least not yet.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. You can also follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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