AP Photo/John Raoux
It was a C-list type of night in Orlando and the Magic proved that, despite key injuries on both sides, they are capable of losing in almost any circumstance.
Jameer Nelson was “the plan” for Orlando and that plan got squelched for the entire second half, leading the Magic to their 35th loss of the season.
At halftime, Nelson said that he needed to value the ball a little bit more. What he should have said was, “If we’re going to win this game, it’s going to be because I score 40 points.” Nelson ended the first half with 18 points, three assists, and three rebounds. He didn’t score at all in the second half.
For Nelson, “valuing the ball” probably changes from night to night and from season to season. A year ago, it might have meant making sure Dwight Howard got 60 touches. Earlier this season, it might have meant penetrating and finding J.J. Redick or Arron Afflalo on the perimeter.
But in a game where five Magic players, including Redick, Afflalo and Glen Davis, were injured and sitting on the bench, valuing the ball meant keeping the ball in his own hands.
The Clippers, even without their stars, are a good team. And a good team knows how to adjust at halftime. In this game, the only adjustment was silencing Nelson.
Sean Highkin pointed out that the Magic tend to lose games in the first and fourth quarters. But against the Clips, because Nelson — the only Magic threat — was neutralized in the second half with a trapping defense, Orlando really lost this game in the third quarter. Nelson didn’t score in the third and the Magic were outscored 24-13.
The rest was, as they say, history, as there was no other real scoring option for Orlando.
Fans might have viewed this game as a wash. No stars, no implications, and once again, no win for the Magic.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Despite being silenced in the second half, Jameer asserted himself offensively in the first half. Without his presence, the Magic would have been blown out by a team full of bench players from Los Angeles.
In the third quarter, the Clippers adjusted, trapped Nelson, and challenged Orlando to beat them with other options. Orlando couldn’t and after surrendering 11 points in the third, the Magic limped into another loss.
That Was … Like Watching a D-League Game
It’s hard enough to watch the Magic these days. When an elite team comes into town and their stars are wearing suits on the bench, it gets even harder. Just another day in the office for Orlando, though, notching their 35th loss of the season.