Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog

Nov 22

Preview: Miami Heat at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Miami Heat at Orlando Magic
  • Date: November 22, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Heat: 6-6
  • Magic: 6-8

Probable starters

Heat:

  • Mario Chalmers
  • Shannon Brown
  • Luol Deng
  • Shawne Williams
  • Chris Bosh

Magic:

  • Victor Oladipo
  • Willie Green
  • Evan Fournier
  • Channing Frye
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Heat:

  • Pace: 90.4 (27th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 107.4 (14th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.3 (20th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.0 (9th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 102.5 (24th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.4 (12th of 30)

Read about the Heat

Heat Index

Nov 22

Grades: Orlando Magic 105, Charlotte Hornets 100

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Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Orlando Magic 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 Charlotte Hornets

Nikola Vucevic
6-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -2

This is the first game of the season where Vucevic clearly got outplayed. That it happened against Al Jefferson, the best low post center in the NBA, is not a bad thing. Vucevic did some good things offensively on the low block, making several right hooks, but Jefferson got the better of him in that department. Which should come as no surprise.

Evan Fournier
7-12 FG | 6-9 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 21 PTS | -14

Orlando sorely missed Fournier in Wednesday’s loss at home against the Los Angeles Clippers, as he recovered from a sore left heel. For a team that struggles to generate points, Fournier’s scoring ability is much-needed. That was no more evident than versus the Hornets, as Fournier made his return after missing one game and provided his usual spark offensively.

Tobias Harris
5-16 FG | 7-8 FT | 2 BLK | 16 REB | 17 PTS | +4

Scoring 17 points on 16 shots isn’t ideal, but give credit to Harris for trying to make things happen on offense at least., especially when the Magic were struggling to score. He was aggressive in attacking the rim, but he couldn’t convert (4-for-10). Instead, he made a living at the free throw line. But perhaps the most eye-popping stat was his 16 rebounds — that’s a lot.

Elfrid Payton
7-11 FG | 2-6 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 16 PTS | +19

As soon as Payton checked into the game midway through the third quarter, with the Hornets enjoying their largest lead of the game at 70-47, that’s when everything changed for Orlando. He played with energy and effort, even flashing that jumper of his, and helped the Magic come back from a 23-point deficit to win on the road.

Charlotte Hornets

A Lance Stephenson layup gave Charlotte a 70-47 lead with 6:41 left in the third quarter. Shortly thereafter, coach Jacque Vaughn subbed in Ben Gordon and Willie Green, which many thought signaled the white flag being waved by the Magic. Instead, Gordon and Green led Orlando on a 58-30 run — including a 41-point fourth quarter — that erased a 23-point deficit and gave the team an improbable comeback victory.

Nov 21

Preview: Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets
  • Date: November 21, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Time Warner Cable Arena

Records

  • Magic: 5-8
  • Hornets: 4-8

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Victor Oladipo
  • Evan Fournier
  • Tobias Harris
  • Channing Frye
  • Nikola Vucevic

Hornets:

  • Kemba Walker
  • Lance Stephenson
  • Gerald Henderson
  • Marvin Williams
  • Al Jefferson

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 93.9 (9th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.9 (23rd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.4 (12th of 30)

Hornets:

  • Pace: 91.2 (23rd of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.3 (28th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.1 (18th of 30)

Read about the Hornets

Queen City Hoops

Nov 21

Channing Frye’s importance to Orlando

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Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Orlando Magic raised eyebrows when they signed Channing Frye to a four-year, $32 million contract during the offseason. The general consensus was that it made very little sense for the Magic, a young team that’s in the middle of an extensive rebuilding process, to splurge in free agency on a 31-year old veteran.

And thus far, Frye’s production has been relatively pedestrian, as he’s averaging just 10.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game with a 10.9 PER and .609 True Shooting percentage (granted, that last statistic is excellent). A stark contrast from the career-high numbers he put up with the Phoenix Suns last season.

Even with the copious amount of data we have at our disposal in a league that has embraced numbers, it’s nearly impossible to quantify Frye’s value as a player. The Magic have only played 16 percent of an 82-game NBA season. It is possible to contextualize Frye’s performance thus far this season, but there are many, many variables involved.

Basic metrics — which are, but not limited to points, rebounds, assists, and shooting percentages — can measure how well Frye has played in just a short time with the Magic. Comparing figures recorded this season to Frye’s averages from last year, a much larger sample, is a logical way to evaluate performance. However, this judgement is unfair — Frye is in an entirely different situation because the Magic and Suns are separate entities.

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Nov 20

Nikola Vucevic: Center of the Magic’s offense

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Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

On Monday night, Nikola Vucevic shredded the Pistons’ defense in the Magic’s 107-93 win. He knocked down midrange jump shots, he scored on the block and on putbacks, and most importantly, he was a player the Magic could throw the ball to and expect to get a decent offensive look on a consistent basis. It was arguably Vucevic’s best game of the season so far (right up there with his 27-point, 12-rebound performance against the Nets on November 9).

However, Monday’s win was not an outlier. Vucevic’s diverse offensive skill-set has been the focal point of the Magic’s offense through the first 13 games of the season. In today’s NBA, very few teams have the ability to run their offense through their center. Many teams are perimeter-oriented and rely on wing play to consistently get quality looks on offense. The Magic do depend on perimeter players like Tobias Harris offensively, but Vucevic is at the epicenter.

For the season, Vucevic is averaging 18.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game with a 20.1 PER and .567 True Shooting percentage — all career-highs (that 4-year, $53 million extension is quickly looking like a bargain). His ability to score in a variety of ways puts a lot of pressure on how opposing teams defend the Magic.

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Nov 19

Grades: Los Angeles Clippers 114, Orlando Magic 90

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Los Angeles Clippers 107 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
8-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 14 REB | 2 AST | 19 PTS | -10

Had the game not turn into a blowout in the fourth quarter, Vucevic was on pace for a 20-20 game or close to it. He had 19 points and 14 rebounds after three quarters, and was continuing his routine destruction of DeAndre Jordan. But coach Jacque Vaughn wisely sat Vucevic out in the final period when the score became too lopsided.

Tobias Harris
8-14 FG | 7-7 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 25 PTS | -19

Perfect from 3-point range. Perfect from the free-throw line. About the only thing that Harris didn’t do well offensively was finish at the rim (4-for-9), which had a lot to do with Jordan’s rim protection. As for his defense, it was non-existent — on purpose. Harris left Matt Barnes open on the perimeter, which didn’t hurt the Magic too much.

Channing Frye
3-8 FG | 3-7 3P | 7 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | -14

Harris wasn’t the only player to leave his defensive assignment open on the perimeter. Frye left Blake Griffin wide-open from midrange in an attempt to coerce him to take jump shots instead of attacking the basket for dunks and layups — something that he hasn’t done enough of this season, which has been puzzling. It worked, as Griffin shot 1-for-8 on midrange jumpers.

Andrew Nicholson
5-9 FG | 0-1 3P | 2 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | -17

Nicholson makes an appearance on the report card only because everyone else for Orlando didn’t play well. Victor Oladipo got chewed up and spit out by Chris Paul, who went into Point God mode in the third quarter. Willie Green did a poor Evan Fournier impression (who sat out with a sore heel). Meanwhile, Nicholson scored a majority of his points in garbage time.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers started their 7-game road trip with a blowout victory over the Magic. The first half was competitive between the two teams before Paul decided to go for the kill in the third quarter, putting up 10 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds in the period. Orlando struggled to score, CP3 smelled blood, and that was that.

Nov 19

Preview: Los Angeles Clippers at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Los Angeles Clippers at Orlando Magic
  • Date: November 19, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Clippers: 6-4
  • Magic: 5-7

Probable starters

Clippers:

  • Chris Paul
  • J.J. Redick
  • Matt Barnes
  • Blake Griffin
  • DeAndre Jordan

Magic:

  • Victor Oladipo
  • Willie Green
  • Tobias Harris
  • Channing Frye
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Clippers:

  • Pace: 94.7 (8th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 107.2 (16th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 108.4 (22nd of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 93.8 (11th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 102.5 (23rd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.2 (12th of 30)

Read about the Clippers

ClipperBlog

Nov 19

What Aaron Gordon’s injury means for the Magic

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Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

The Orlando Magic were on the receiving end of some bad news over the weekend. Aaron Gordon, their prized possession from this year’s draft, was ruled out indefinitely after fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Gordon found out about the injury following the Magic’s loss to the Washington Wizards on Saturday. After the game, the rookie said that his foot was merely sore and that it “didn’t feel like much at all.” Gordon thought he simply needed orthotics in his shoes, but an X-ray — done at the urging of trainer Keon Weiss — revealed a stress fracture in his foot.

The Magic have dealt with a number of injuries already this season, which is why Gordon’s absence is a blow to the team. Victor Oladipo (facial fracture) and Channing Frye (sprained MCL) both missed time to start the season, and Kyle O’Quinn has been nursing an ankle injury since Orlando’s season opener on October 28. With Oladipo’s return on Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks, the roster was finally starting to round out into full strength but 24 hours later, the news broke of Gordon’s injury, leaving the team with a void to fill off the bench.

Gordon has only been playing 15.0 minutes per game for the Magic so far this season, but he has already shown signs of both potential and growth in the early going. His defense has made a smooth transition to the NBA, and his versatility has seen him match up against small forwards and power forwards. The Magic have been 5.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Gordon on the floor, per NBA.com, which is the difference between them being a bottom-five defensive team and a top-12 defensive team.

On offense, Gordon has been able to knock down outside shots, an integral development for him to tap into his full potential. He is 11-for-21 on jump shots on the season, making up for nearly half of his made field goals. He is also leading all rookies in Player Efficiency Rating (15.3) and True Shooting percentage (.645 percent).

The Magic can afford to be patient with Gordon’s recovery. He is currently the youngest player in the NBA at 19 year of age, and with Orlando not expected to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season, there’s no use in rushing him back. The Magic are still focused on the future, which is why they’ll take their time and ensure that he makes a full recovery.

Nevertheless, the news comes at a bad time. Gordon was starting to find his feet with the Magic’s second unit, and he now has to start anew when he returns. He was developing a nice rhythm offensively and continuing to learn to play within the confines of Orlando’s system. Gordon also misses precious development time.

For the Magic, Maurice Harkless will now slide into Gordon’s role as the backup small forward while he recovers from his injury. Harkless is one of the team’s best perimeter defenders, but, unlike Gordon, he isn’t capable of guarding power forwards. Orlando can only hope that Gordon isn’t out for too long.

Nov 17

Grades: Orlando Magic 107, Detroit Pistons 93

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Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Orlando Magic 107 Final
Recap | Box Score
93 Detroit Pistons

Nikola Vucevic
10-18 FG | 5-5 FT | 14 REB | 3 AST | 25 PTS | +19

Andre Drummond is widely regarded as one of the top young centers in the NBA, with Dwight Howard-like potential, and Vucevic outplayed him with ease. The biggest matchup problem that Vucevic presents to a center like Drummond is his ability to space the floor and make midrange jumpers. Vucevic was repeatedly left open on the perimeter by Drummond and made him pay.

Tobias Harris
10-17 FG | 3-6 3P | 5 REB | 4 AST | 24 PTS | +15

It was a career night for Harris, of sorts. He set a career-high with five steals and tied his career-high with three made 3-point shots. Although getting five steals is impressive, it’s the three made 3-point shots that meant more to Orlando. His ability to make his 3s allowed the Magic to maximize their spacing offensively and bomb away from deep.

Evan Fournier
5-13 FG | 3-6 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 14 PTS | +11

Harris wasn’t the only Magic player that set a new career-high. Fournier’s eight assists were a new career-best. Out of all of them, it was his swing pass to Harris in the right corner for a wide-open 3-pointer that proved to be the most meaningful, as it served as the dagger in Orlando’s double-digit victory over the Pistons.

Channing Frye
4-6 FG | 4-6 3P | 5 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | +8

Frye was practically invisible in the first half. He had zero points and one field goal attempt, and occasionally got abused on defense by Greg Monroe in the post. It was a different story after halftime. The Magic got Frye involved more on offense and it was his outside shooting that ignited the team’s 3-point barrage in the second half.

Detroit Pistons

For as well as Orlando played, Detroit only trailed by two points entering the fourth quarter. That had to do with the Pistons keeping pace with the Magic beyond the arc, while also getting to the charity stripe more than them. But Detroit finally succumbed in the fourth quarter, as Orlando’s excellent ball movement, spacing, and 3-point shooting proved to be too much.

Nov 17

Video: Orlando displays excellent ball movement

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