AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
For the most part, the Magic’s offense of late has been fairly well-balanced, even in their losses. They get contributions from diverse areas of the roster, with the youngsters trading off having standout performances and the veterans generally being reliable.
That held true for one quarter on Friday and one quarter only. Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo keyed an Orlando comeback that included a 16-0 run after being down 46-34 at the half. The Magic outscored the Kings 30-16 in the third quarter and it appeared that Jacque Vaughn’s squad was set up for another surprising victory. In the final period, however, the offense fell apart again as Sacramento’s speedy guards overpowered their defense.
The first half was defined by the Magic shooters’ inability to hit anything outside the paint. Afflalo, Glen Davis, and Andrew Nicholson were effective enough when they attacked the basket, but everybody’s shots were ice-cold the entire half. Considering their shooters went 1-for-15 from outside the paint in the first half, it’s a miracle they weren’t down much more than 12 at the break.
In that first 24 minutes, the Magic were outplayed in every aspect of the game. Their bigs were outhustled on the boards by Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins. Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette, who have been having good games on different nights of late as Keith Smart has continued to shuffle his rotation, both had solid halves, as did Aaron Brooks. They were able to exploit the Magic’s weak perimeter defense and construct a balanced offensive attack that Orlando’s lethargic shooting did nothing to counter.
Nelson and Afflalo came alive in the third, reversing the team’s fortunes from the field and forcing four turnovers by the Kings. Afflalo rediscovered his three-point shot to an extent, but was most effective when he was attacking the basket and getting to the line, which he did four times.
Davis, Nicholson, and Nikola Vucevic stepped up and outrebounded the Sacramento bigs, and the Kings’ shooters went cold. But everything fell apart again for the Magic in the fourth, as Thomas and Fredette led the Kings’ backcourt down the stretch with a couple of key three-pointers to retake the lead and put the Magic away.
The Magic’s third-quarter run to make this a game was impressive, but it wouldn’t have been necessary had the team been able to hit a jump shot in the first half. The Magic have good shooters and this was simply an unlucky instance when all of them happened to go cold the same night.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Jameer Nelson led the charge as the Magic went on a 16-0 run in the third quarter to claw back into the game. He scored 10 of his 17 points in the third quarter on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting (including hitting both of his three-point attempts) with three assists.
The Kings had more turnovers than the Magic (18 to 16), but Orlando did a poor job minimizing the damage their mistakes caused. Their lethargic offense was only able to score 10 points off the Kings’ 18 turnovers, while Sacramento went to town on Orlando’s, scoring 21.
That was … textbook Big Baby
Glen Davis scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds before he fouled out, but it took him 19 shots to get there. This inefficiency, as expected, was due to his settling for too many long jumpers. The shot chart should explain itself.