AP Photo/John Raoux
Under Stan Van Gundy, the calling card for the Orlando Magic was not only their defense but their three-point shooting. In four of the five seasons that Van Gundy coached the Magic, they ranked first in three-point field goal attempts. And in the year Orlando didn’t rank first (which was Van Gundy’s first season in 2008), they ranked second.
Not coincidentally, the Magic avoided long twos like the plague. Orlando finished with the fewest field goal attempts from 16-23 feet in four of the five years spent under Van Gundy’s watchful eye. Last season, the Magic finished with the second-fewest attempts behind the Denver Nuggets.
Consequently, Orlando ranked seventh, 11th, fourth, 14th, and 15th in Offensive Rating during Van Gundy’s tenure.
This season, the Magic rank 27th in three-point field goal attempts and seventh in field goal attempts from 16-23 feet. Orlando’s Offensive Rating as a result? 28th as of Wednesday.
What does this all have to do with the Magic’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs?
It’s a microcosm of how Orlando lost to the Spurs.
It’s not a shock that San Antonio won. The Spurs are better than the Magic — plain and simple. But what stood out the most in tonight’s game was the contrast in approaches offensively. San Antonio looked to shoot three-pointers, while Orlando looked to score in the paint. At the end of the game, the Spurs had shot 11-for-25 from three-point range, while the Magic shot 2-for-15. With San Antonio winning by 21, that 27-point differential in three-point shooting is the reason why Orlando got blown out.
It’s hard not to see the irony in the Magic losing because the Spurs outgunned them from behind the three-point line. Unfortunately for Orlando, that trend likely will continue. And this should come as no surprise, given that the Magic’s three-point shooting identity went out the window the moment Van Gundy was fired.
Orlando’s inability to get to the free-throw line (dead-last in free-throw rate this season) compared to previous seasons has also been an issue. Case in point — the Magic shot eight free-throws against San Antonio. With no Dwight Howard earning trips to the free-throw line, that’s another source of offense that has dried up.
For Orlando, games like these shed light on that change in offensive philosophy and the negative repercussions that come with it.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Manu Ginobili finished with 20 points, five assists, and four rebounds to lead the way for the Spurs. Ginobili’s shot distribution resided strictly behind the three-point line, as all six of his field goals were three-pointers.
After trailing 14-10 midway through the first quarter, San Antonio finished the period on a 19-4 run. Ginobili was the catalyst, scoring 12 of the Spurs’ 19 points. From there, San Antonio cruised to a double-digit victory.
That Was … Expected
The Spurs entered the game as one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Facing off against an inferior opponent in the Magic, it’s no surprise that San Antonio won handily and extended their winning streak to five.