Brandon Bass has waited all season to make an impact. He has struggled integrating into Orlando's 3-point happy offense and to learn the team's defensive strategy. With the postseason approaching, Bass has yearned for his chance to play.
Finally earning his chance, Bass is making the most of it.
Bass provided the highlight of the evening blocking a 3-pointer in the second quarter that sparked a fast break. Only this fast break was led by Dwight Howard, who crossed over a defender at the 3-point line and fed Bass underneath for an easy slam. Howard smiled all the way down court as the Magic built a lead into the 30s and were never challenged after the first quarter in a 113-87 win over the Clippers on Tuesday at Amway Arena.
Bass scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds in a little more than 13 minutes of play. Bass has made the most of his minutes since being inserted at the backup power forward spot around the All Star break. He is averaging 5.6 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game in 13.1 minutes per game. Those are all well above his season averages -- mostly because of his increased playing time.
But those stats translate to nearly 15.3 points per 36 minutes and 9.0 rebounds per 36 minutes. A lot of people -- who have watched Bass in Dallas and those who simply want Bass to play -- have said Bass just needs a chance to prove himself. His energy and toughness have been very present in Orlando's 7-1 stretch since Bass started playing.
Then again, tonight it did not take much to top the Clippers.
The Magic dominated early and never looked back. Excuse me for trying to sidetrack myself from this game, but it was really that uninteresting. Los Angeles did not have the firepower to keep up with a focused and rolling Orlando team. The Magic are now on a six-game winning streak, tying their longest win streak of the season.
Dwight Howard had 15 points and 10 rebounds at halftime and finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds. He got whatever he wanted in the post and was able to establish deep post position. That started the offense and opened everything up on the perimeter.
Orlando raced out to a 15-8 lead and held a 31-21 edge after one quarter. The team hit 91 points by the end of the third quarter and had 67 at the half.
Offensive clinic is an easy way to describe this game as the Clippers could not stop any dribble penetration and the Magic are such a good passing game that it was easy for them to pick the Clippers apart.
Jameer Nelson again led the attack when Los Angeles was forced to double down on Dwight with 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds. A solid effort from him (despite shooting six for 13 from the field). Rashard Lewis added 15 points and Vince Carter had 13 points. All five starters scored in double figures for the fourth time in six games.
Orlando shot 49 percent from the floor and 11 for 27 from beyond the arc. The Clippers could only muster up a 43 percent shooting night and the Magic were keeping them on the perimeter. It is fair to say that Los Angeles did not have any chance to win tonight with the effort it gave.
Which brings us back to Bass. Bass and the rest of the bench did not do much to stand outa whole bunch. This was more the type of game where the bench guys can show their value and make their presence known. On that one particular play, Bass did. The bench never has to make its presence completely known, but it does have to steady the ship.
In previous games when the Magic took a big lead, the bench would sometimes be a let down and allow teams to get back in the game. Orlando's bench had no let down tonight and helped the team expand its lead. The bench was outscored 38-36, but Baron Davis' 16 points can almost be considered as coming from a starter.
The important thing is Orlando expanded its lead with a 36-20 second quarter (behind Dwight Howard taking over the game as he played the entire first half). There was no let down tonight. Everyone, including Bass, did their jobs perfectly for an easy win tonight.