I'm honestly surprised the Magic scored 92 points. I can't believe someone broke 90 in this game. The offense was that bad. This game was all kinds of weird, from Cody Zeller chasedown blocks to Glen Davis corner threes, and to top it all off, the Bobcats' defense was ... bad. The one impressive consistency of the season failed the Bobcats tonight.
The Bobcats' defense started off the game doing what they usually do, preventing their opponents from getting to the rim. They were making their rotations and forcing a lot of midrange jump shots. That trend continued for most of the night. The offense was putrid all game from both sides. The Magic couldn't get to the rim which is the way they usually open up the rest of their offense. The Bobcats couldn't shoot -- nothing new there.
Then about midway through the third, something changed. The Magic were getting to the rim. It started on a defensive breakdown where Jameer Nelson drove to the rim almost completely uncontested. Then it happened again later in the game. Then again, and again. It happened at least four times during the game, which is a lot of unchallenged shots resulting from breakdowns in the halfcourt from a top-five defense. Jameer Nelson is not the kind of point guard that blows by your entire defense and gets to the rim uncontested. This had little to do with Kemba Walker, or Ben Gordon, or Ramon Sessions, or whoever happened to be guarding Nelson at the time. It has to do with the guys behind the guards didn't rotate fast enough, or at all, so they could get to Nelson and I think I know why that happened.
The Magic's offense was weird tonight. They tried to attack the rim as much as possible early but that wasn't working. This resulted in shooting a lot of midrange jump shots, something the Bobcats can live with. All that changed in the third quarter. The Magic changed their attack from the rim to the corners. Andrew Nicholson, who went 4-for-9 with two threes, led the charge by making a corner trey. After that, the Magic went back to that spot to get Nicholson another one. Then the flood gates opened up. The Magic started to shoot everything from three. The Magic went 7-for-11 from behind the arc in the second half, the majority of which came in the third quarter. In fact, they were 6-for-8 at one point in the third. After this the Bobcats were afraid to leave their defensive assignments. This resulted in the Magic going 4-for-6 from within 3 feet in the fourth quarter.
Despite all of this, the game stayed relatively close the entire time. I know I'm crushing the Bobcats defense but they actually weren't horrible. They just weren't at the level we've grown used to seeing them this season. The defense kept the Bobcats in the game but the key to the Magic's win has to be the outstanding defense played by Arron Afflalo and Victor Oladipo.
Although the Bobcats have added Al Jefferson, their offense is still very reliant on production from at least one of the Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson duo. Afflalo and Oladipo were having none of that, holding Walker and Henderson to a combined 7-for-32 from the field. Walker had 5 turnovers with 10 points and Henderson had 12 points. They were constantly under pressure and it showed from their poor performance.
In the end, that was just a weird game. From the start to the end there was a lot of sloppy basketball and strange moments. If you missed the game and have League Pass, don't catch the replay. Just watch the highlights.