The Foot Locker Three-Point Contest pits the NBA’s premier three-point shooters against one another in one of All-Star Weekend’s most hotly anticipated contests. Afflalo will be the ninth Magic player in franchise history chosen to participate in the long-distance shootout, which originated during the 1986 NBA All-Star Weekend.
Selected in the first round (27th overall) of the 2007 NBA Draft by Detroit, Afflalo leads the Magic in scoring with 19.9 ppg. and is currently tied for eighth in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage (.427). Afflalo has led (or tied) the team in scoring a team-best 27 times, scored in double figures 45 times, had 20+ points 24 times and 30+ points four times, including a career-high 43 points on Dec. 3 at Philadelphia. Afflalo, who has connected on at least three three-pointers in 13 games this season, hit 8-of-11 attempts from long distance on Nov. 13 vs. Milwaukee and knocked down five in the third quarter, tying the franchise record for most three-pointers made in a quarter.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge was introduced at NBA All-Star 2003 and features players competing in a timed obstacle course consisting of dribbling, passing and shooting stations. Oladipo is the second Magic player to be selected to the competition. Jameer Nelson was chosen as a participant in 2009, but was unable to participate due to an injury.
Oladipo has also been selected to participate in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge as part of 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend. The Rising Stars Challenge will take place on Friday, February 14 at 9 p.m. ET and will consist of both NBA rookies and sophomores selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches.
Selected in the first round (second overall) of the 2013 NBA Draft by Orlando, Oladipo was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in December. He has led (or tied) the Magic in scoring seven times, in rebounding twice and in assists 12 times. Oladipo has scored in double figures 40 times and had 20+ points seven times, including a career-high 35 points on January 15 vs. Chicago. He tallied his first career triple-double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on December 3 at Philadelphia.
Victor Oladipo’s 20-point performance stood out in Orlando’s win versus the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
Steve Aschburner of NBA.com says Oladipo has a chance to thrive in the Rising Stars Challenge.
Oladipo will not compete in the dunk contest, even though he previously stated he would have been willing to participate if invited. The participants will be Paul George, Damian Lillard, John Wall, Terrence Ross, Harrison Barnes, and Ben McLemore.
In the Magic’s previous two meetings against the Pistons, Afflalo was primarily matched up against Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. This time around, Kyle Singler got the assignment. But it didn’t seem to matter who defended Afflalo, as he played good-to-excellent in the three games. Tonight was more of a “good” game for Afflalo, who missed a lot of quality shots and finished with just 15 points.
Nikola Vucevic 6-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 STL | 6 REB | 14 PTS | +17
There’s several reasons why the Magic won this game and Vucevic was one of them. It was his presence in the pick-and-roll as a screener that allowed Jameer Nelson to get to the middle of the floor and pick apart the Pistons’ defensively. And it was also his presence as a rebounder that allowed Orlando to win the battle on the glass.
Victor Oladipo 8-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | +7
When Oladipo drives to the basket, good things generally happen. Against Detroit, Oladipo shot 7-for-8 at the rim, which fueled his efficient shooting performance, and a lot of them were reverse layups. Whenever Oladipo got challenged in the paint by a Pistons big, usually Andre Drummond or Josh Smith, he did a great job of using the rim to protect the ball.
The “Young Guns” (the nickname of Orlando’s second unit) were the biggest reason for the team’s victory, providing scoring, defense, and energy off the bench. Harkless was part of that group, scoring in double figures (10 of his 15 points came in the fourth quarter), making hustle plays, and having one of his best games in quite a while.
Detroit entered tonight’s game 1.5 games out of the Charlotte Bobcats for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, yet it feels like the Pistons are so far away from their goal of snapping their current four-year postseason drought. It doesn’t help that one of their prized free agent acquisitions, Brandon Jennings, shot 5-for-23 in a blowout loss to the Magic.
All-Star Weekend is just around the corner, and Magic fans could probably use a little bit of a break from the all too frequent lows of the season.
Unfortunately for Orlando, the All-Star festivities aren’t exactly brimming with Magic players so far. With guard Arron Afflalo snubbed from the Eastern Conference All-Star roster, rookie Victor Oladipo currently stands as the only member of the franchise with an invitation to New Orleans. Oladipo will participate in the Rising Stars Challenge, a showcase for rookies and sophomores that should be a lot more fun than it traditionally is.
Since he’s there, though, here’s a suggestion for the powers that be: Put Victor Oladipo in the Slam Dunk Contest.
There should essentially be two criteria for inclusion in the dunk contest. The first is the ability to rattle rims from the top of the backboard to the bottom of the stanchion.
Oladipo’s got that covered and then some. In the first four months of his NBA career, he’s managed to throw down some of the best dunks of the year. Among his leaping lightning strikes, his steal and 360 in the open court against Brooklyn is the most well-known in a Magic uniform:
And Oladipo’s repertoire goes deep. He flashed his dunk contest credentials in transition:
And in traffic, where no mortal defender can keep Oladipo from inflicting pain on the iron:
The evidence is clear: in terms of content and ability, Oladipo is more than qualified for the Slam Dunk Contest.
But there are a lot of players with the chops to bring a crowd to their feet with their dunking prowess. Being able to participate in the competition isn’t enough. In order to shine at All-Star Weekend, a player must want to take part in the events.
And Oladipo has made it clear, time and time again and to anyone who asks, that he wants to be in the Slam Dunk Contest. He said it back in the first week of November, when his body was fresh and he’d not yet been through the grind of the regular season. And he reiterated it recently when asked by reporters.
It’s a pertinent facet of the discussion, especially since All-Stars John Wall and Damian Lillard have reportedly been invited to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest. Wall seems likely to skip the event due to a nagging injury or two. We don’t yet know whether or not Lillard will accept.
But a player who has to mull the invitation over probably won’t put on the same type of show as a player with his eye on the event from the beginning. Lillard would be a fine contestant. Oladipo, given his open desire, would simply be better. If you don’t believe me, ask defending Slam Dunk Contest champion Terrence Ross. When asked who he’d like to see as challengers to his crown, Ross didn’t hesitate in selecting Oladipo.
Of course, the format will likely factor into whether or not Oladipo makes the cut. Last year, the Slam Dunk Contest was open to six contestants, with three coming from each conference. Assuming the same holds true this year, and Ross is invited back, that leaves Oladipo competing for one of two spots with his fellow Eastern Conference comrades.
He should be a lock, though he doesn’t seem to be. No one else has Oladipo’s combination of ferocious dunks and inclination to unleash them with the spotlight shining its brightest. If the Slam Dunk Contest wants to be the spectacle it deserves to be, it needs Victor Oladipo.
In continuation of the Orlando Magic’s 25th anniversary season-long celebration the team will honor former Magic General Manager John Gabriel, former Magic forward and current television color analyst Jeff Turner and former Magic guard Sam Vincent at the Magic’s February 7 matchup vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder, tip-off set for 7 p.m. The night will feature a center court presentation with all three at the end of the first quarter. Vincent will join FOX Sports Florida’s broadcasts including Magic Live pregame show with hosts Paul Kennedy and Nick Anderson and Gabriel will join broadcasters David Steele and Jeff Turner for a portion of the game broadcast. They will also be featured on Magic Drive Time radio show with host Dante Marchitelli on AM 740 ‘The Game,’ schedule as follows: Jeff Turner on Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 5:30 p.m.; John Gabriel, Friday, Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m.; and Sam Vincent on Friday, Feb. 7 at halftime on AM 580. In addition, all three will be available to the media at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7 in the Amway Center interview room.
“Legends Nights” is an on-going program which will honor former players/legends throughout the Magic’s Silver Season. Past honorees include Tracy McGrady, Nick Anderson, Pat Williams, Jimmy Hewitt, Dennis Scott, Pat Garrity, Horace Grant and Bo Outlaw. In addition to the Magic’s “Legends Nights,” the 2013-14 season will feature the Silver Ticket Sweepstakes and Scratch Off Promotion, special appearances, game entertainment and other events throughout the season.
A 12-year NBA veteran, Turner played in 612 NBA regular season games during his career with New Jersey and Orlando. As a member of the Magic’s inaugural team, he spent seven seasons (411 games-176 starts) with the Magic from 1989-1996. He ranks on the Magic’s all-time career list in games played (tied for eighth). While with the Magic, he averaged 6.5 ppg. and 3.6 rpg., helping them reach the 1995 NBA Finals. Turner currently serves as the Magic’s television color analyst.
Vincent was a member of the Magic’s inaugural squad. A seven plus year NBA veteran, he played in 396 NBA regular season games during his career with Boston, Seattle, Chicago and Orlando. Vincent spent three seasons (151 games – 80 starts) with the Magic from 1989-1992, finishing his NBA career with Orlando in 1992. While with the Magic, he averaged 10.1 ppg., 4.6 apg., and 2.7 rpg. in 23.3 mpg.
Gabriel joined the Magic in 1989 during its inaugural season. While with the Magic, he served in various capacities including director of player personnel, director of scouting, assistant coach, vice president of basketball operations/player personnel and general manager. Gabriel was responsible for building the Magic roster that went to the 1995 NBA Finals, when the organization had only been in existence in the NBA for six years. Also under his tenure, Orlando posted 11 consecutive seasons with a .500-plus record from 1991-2002, while making eight postseason appearances. Gabriel was named the NBA Executive of the Year in 1999-2000.
Tasked with trying to score on one of the NBA’s premier defenders (Paul George), Afflalo made it look incredibly easy in the first half. He scored 18 points on 11 shots, capping off an excellent shooting display by making a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the second quarter. But Afflalo went cold after halftime, missing his last seven shots to finish with just 20 points.
Nikola Vucevic 8-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 16 PTS | -2
Vucevic played 30-plus minutes for the first time since coming back from a concussion, with the Magic ramping up his minutes game-by-game. He churned out another double-double, his 19th of the regular season (in 32 games), and held his own against Roy Hibbert — at least offensively. But Vucevic has a ways to go on defense before he can consider himself Hibbert’s equal.
For a player that likes to chuck up a lot of shots, it’s unusual to look at the box score and see that Harris had less than 10 field goal attempts in a game. Part of it was due to the natural flow of the game. Part of it was due to Harris being hounded by the hyperactive Lance Stephenson.
Starting at point guard in place of the injured Jameer Nelson (knee), Oladipo tried his best to run the Magic’s offense as effectively as his mentor but failed. Ironically enough, it wasn’t Oladipo’s passing that was the problem, but rather his shooting. Oladipo couldn’t connect on any of his midrange jump shots whenever Orlando ran pick-and-rolls for him, which hurt the team offensively.
The Pacers can thank their second unit (Watson-Stephenson-Granger-Scola-Mahinmi) for winning them this game. Indiana’s reserves sparked an 18-1 run, spanning from the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth quarter, that turned a close game into a blowout. Granger was the ringleader, leading the Pacers in scoring with 16 points off the bench and — more importantly — looking healthy.