When a team has six players score in double figures, it usually means that the starters and sixth man all played well. But on Wednesday night, three of the double-digit scorers came from the Orlando Magic's bench on the way to a 107-79 beat down of the Chicago Bulls.
Tony Battie led the second unit with 18 points and eight rebounds. Marcin Gortat, in just 23 minutes of action, recorded his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 15 rebounds. J.J. Redick saw an increase in playing time because of Hedo Turkoglu's foot injury and made the most of it scoring 13 points on 4-6 shooting.
The Magic reserves outscored (56-42), outrebounded (27-23), and threw more assists (15-8) than Chicago's starters in a combined 27 less minutes. The backups shot 59 percent from the field and were dominating against Chicago's first unit. This was somewhat of surprise considering the team's sixth man and bench scorer, Mickael Pietrus, was forced into the starting lineup in place of Turkoglu.
Orlando's bench production has improved drastically in the last few seasons.
In the past, teams had learned that they can beat the Magic by getting Dwight Howard into foul trouble. But tonight, Gortat stepped up when Howard picked up two early fouls that kept him on the bench.
After the "Polish Prince", as Howard calls him, helped the Magic gain a very comfortable lead, coach Stan Van Gundy didn't find it necessary to put Dwight back in the game, ending his night with 15 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks in just 22 minutes.
This season the Magic have relied on their starting forwards, Rashard Lewis and Turkoglu, to produce points. But on a night where Lewis and Pietrus combined for just 14 points on 3-18 shooting, Redick and Battie were hitting everything as they combined for 31 points while shooting 65 percent from the field (a number that would be higher if Battie didn't get greedy and miss a few shots during garbage time).
On a night in which things weren't clicking for the starters, it's always great to see the bench come through big and lead the team to victory. The win clinched a playoff berth for the Magic which is somewhat symbolic considering how important the bench play will be for the team come the postseason.
"We didn't have Turkoglu, Rashard doesn't make a shot, and Dwight plays twenty two minutes and that's the formula for a blowout win?" joked Van Gundy after the game.
Tonight, the formula worked perfectly and Orlando hopes it will continue to work if needed for the rest of the season and into May.