Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
The fact that Orlando didn’t get blown out by the Grizzlies is a testament to a few things: interior defense, good spot-up shooting, and the reckless abandon by which their perimeter players attacked the hoop.
You can’t put enough emphasis on the importance of scoring when you just traded J.J. Redick, Jameer Nelson is sitting on the bench, and you are already suffering from a handful of injuries. Orlando only played seven guys against the Grizzlies, so their offense had to come from somewhere.
The usual suspect was Arron Afflalo, who shot the ball well enough and hit some big shots with hands in his face at moments when the Grizzlies could have run away with the game.
The unusual suspect was Mo Harkless, who finished the game with 19 points. Harkless has been on a bit of a hot streak in the past few games offensively, which appears to be a direct result of the lack of scoring options that Jacque Vaughn is working with.
The Magic offense took on a whole different look in this game as well. More than 30 percent of the teams offensive production came from spot-up shooting (typically a result of the drive and dish), per Synergy. While Afflalo was the primary beneficiary of the spot-up jumper, Harkless earned his paycheck getting to the rim with a few very athletic moments. Another factor that led to such a high percentage of spot-up shooting was the range of Andrew Nicholson, who hit several long jumpers as he flashed out of the paint.
Perhaps the biggest flaw of Magic in Friday night’s game was the play of Nikola Vucevic, who fouled out early in the fourth quarter after spending most of the third quarter on the bench with foul trouble. Zach Randolph exposed Vucevic and pounded the ball straight into the paint on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter to get Vucevic to pick up his fourth and fifth fouls. That trouble came at the tail end of a 19-3 Grizzlies run that put the game out of reach for Orlando.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Despite Harkless’ 19 points and nine rebounds, Afflalo had a more complete game with 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. Afflalo knocked down jumpers in the face of a streaking Grizzlies team and was probably overall more valuable than Harkless.
Maurice Harkless stood out in this game. For a guy who averages less than 5 points per game, this was another unexpected performance from someone who is largely considered a defensive player.
After a 19-3 Grizzlies run early in the 3rd quarter, Nikola Vucevic picked up his fourth and fifth fouls in about 10 seconds. He went on to sit for the rest of the third quarter and fouled out promptly in the final period.