Magic uses more than one trick to beat Bullets

January 10, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Two young teams, two varying styles, two different directions. That about sums up Saturday's game between the Washington Bullets and the Orlando Magic.

The Magic came out with its swagger, its intimidating stares, its cockiness. The Magic also came away with a 112-101 win.

Waking up in their hotel rooms yesterday, the Bullets probably were Shaq-shocked, as Shaquille O'Neal recovered from a slow start with a 29-point, 19-rebound performance.

"We played Shaq pretty good early on, then he started making his shots more toward the end of the game," said Washington forward Don MacLean of the double-teaming tactics against O'Neal early. "I feel that the rest of the players hurt us more than Shaq."

For the Bullets, it was just a demonstration of what a team can do when its first plan of attack fails. For the Magic, the offense revolves around O'Neal, who incites the crowd with his monstrous dunks.

When O'Neal, 7 feet, 300 pounds, couldn't get it done early, Orlando's other players did from the outside (forward Dennis Scott scored 19 off the bench). And when the Bullets were forced to play straight-up defense, O'Neal was given room to lower the boom.

Meanwhile, when the Bullets' jump shooters are off the mark, as they were for much of Saturday, Washington is in trouble. The Bullets didn't score their first field goal in the lane until nearly 10 minutes had passed. Much of the night, and much of the season, the Bullets offense is a Washington player taking a jumper -- and the four others on the court standing outside the lane watching.

Still, the Bullets were able to out-rebound the Magic, 46-42. Besides O'Neal, no other Magic player grabbed more than five rebounds. (The Magic is so desperate for a frontcourt player that rumors are the team will activate assistant coach Tree Rollins this week.)

Bench play proved to be a big factor. The Magic got 37 points from its reserves (mainly from two players, Scott's 19 and Donald Royal's 12). After Washington coach Wes Unseld went with his starters for almost all of the third quarter (Tom Gugliotta and Rex Chapman sat out the last 2:33), he started the fourth quarter with five reserves.

The move didn't work. Washington failed to score in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. An eight-point deficit was suddenly 18. And by the time the starters returned, the game was all but over.

"We need our bench to play so that the starters can get a little rest," Gugliotta said. "Some nights are better that others for them as well as us. They were not able to produce for us tonight."

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