Troy Taormina/USA TODAY
The Magic raced out to a 9-2 lead over the Rockets and looked like they had figured some things out offensively after a horrid second-half performance Friday night in New York.
Things are not that easy. Not ever that easy.
Not with Dwight Howard patrolling the middle -- and another shot blocker in Terrence Jones behind him -- and James Harden able to lead the break. Eventually the Rockets shots were going to fall. It was just a question of whether the Magic's shots would fall.
For three quarters of the game, it would not. And as the Magic cut into the Rockets' 22-point lead in the fourth quarter, the shots the Magic needed would not go in. Jameer Nelson saw a 3-pointer rattle in and out from the top of the key. Maurice Harkless missed a layup attempt over Jones and then missed the putback attempt. Howard was even making his free throws.
The Magic got it to 10 points on two occasions, including the final score, but could not get that one shot that would really make the Rockets sweat in a 98-88 loss at Toyota Center on Sunday, the Magic's fifth loss in a row and fourth straight on this six-game road trip.
Orlando was simply struggling to put the ball in the hoop both in generating offense in the paint and in making the shots you expect any team to make.
That does not excuse some of the defense that occurred in the first quarter and the first half that helped the Rockets build a double digit lead that carried on throughout the game.
After that early lead from Orlando, Houston was able to step up its interior defense and generate fast break points. The Magic defense was concerned most with keeping a body on Dwight Howard and stopping James Harden from getting into thel ane and wreaking havoc. This strategy backfired as the Magic were digging in too much and allowing the Rockets open 3-pointers.no comments