Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 17

Dec 03

Grades: Golden State Warriors 98, Orlando Magic 97

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Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Golden State Warriors 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
97 Orlando Magic

Victor Oladipo
10-14 FG | 3-4 3P | 4 REB | 4 AST | 27 PTS | -1

This was easily Oladipo’s best game of the season so far. He got off to a quick start in the first quarter and never looked back. He splashed in 3-pointers and midrange jump shots. He attacked the rim — he had a vicious dunk in the third quarter. Yet in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter, he barely touched the ball.

Kyle O’Quinn
9-16 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 STL | 11 REB | 21 PTS | -7

With Nikola Vucevic out due to back spasms, which he suffered during pre-game warmups, O’Quinn stepped in at center and the Magic didn’t miss a beat. He had 21 points (two shy of his career-high) and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes of playing time. Its performances like these that show O’Quinn is more than capable of being a starter in the NBA.

Tobias Harris
6-14 FG | 5-5 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 17 PTS | -1

Harris was the hero and the goat. It was his running bank shot that gave Orlando a 97-95 lead with 38.4 seconds left. And it was his inability to close out on Stephen Curry in transition, eliminate his airspace, and prevent him from shooting his game-winning 3-pointer that cost the Magic a hard-fought win on the road that they had earned.

Evan Fournier
4-13 FG | 2-6 3P | 3 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +5

Fournier made a minimal impact. He made a layup, midrange jumper, and two 3-point shots, and that was it. Something to keep an eye on moving forward is Fournier playing alongside Elfrid Payton (who was stellar against the Warriors, despite his modest stat line) and Oladipo in a small ball lineup. Coach Jacque Vaughn used it against Golden State and it was effective.

Golden State Warriors

Steph Curry. With the Dubs on the brink of having their 9-game winning streak snapped by the Magic, Curry came through in the clutch with a game-winner. After Payton missed a layup that could have iced the game with Orlando up 97-95, Curry got the ball in transition and pulled up for a 3-pointer that you knew was going to go in as soon as he released it.

Dec 03

Video: Stephen Curry hits game-winning 3-pointer

Dec 03

Video: Victor Oladipo with a vicious dunk

Dec 02

Preview: Orlando Magic at Golden State Warriors

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Golden State Warriors
  • Date: December 2, 2014
  • Time: 10:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Oracle Arena

Records

  • Magic: 7-12
  • Warriors: 14-2

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Victor Oladipo
  • Evan Fournier
  • Tobias Harris
  • Channing Frye
  • Kyle O’Quinn

Warriors:

  • Stephen Curry
  • Klay Thompson
  • Harrison Barnes
  • Draymond Green
  • Andrew Bogut

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 93.7 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.4 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.2 (16th of 30)

Warriors:

  • Pace: 98.6 (1st of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 108.6 (10th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 97.9 (1st of 30)

Read about the Warriors

Warriors World

Dec 02

Tobias Harris: Numbers guy or good player?

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Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

There is a difference between a “numbers guy” and a player who can be an important piece on a good team. It’s a distinction not obvious to most. For example, I would say most people who don’t religiously follow the NBA believe that Michael Carter-Williams and Josh Smith are really good players — based on their per game averages and maybe because of NBA 2K14. Certainly, their stats may look decent on paper, but it’s ultimately window dressing.

I would argue someone like Draymond Green is more of a player who could be a key cog for a winning team than the two guys listed above (and he’s proving it too, as he’s one of the biggest reasons the Warriors are off to their best start in franchise history at 14-2). Casual fans would say, “Who?” Exactly.

This brings me to Tobias Harris, the Magic’s fourth-year player and starting small forward. Harris is averaging 18.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting 39.5 percent (15-for-38 — small sample size alert) from 3-point range through the first 17 games of the season. He’s sporting a 17.9 PER and a .553 True Shooting percentage. All those numbers are career-highs.

To put that stat line in perspective, Carmelo Anthony was the only player in the entire league last year to score at least 18 points, grab at least eight rebounds, and knock down at least 39.0 percent of his 3-pointers. While the season is still young (not sure when we stop saying this), it goes to show how good Harris has been to start the season.

However, is Harris an important piece for the Magic as they continue to move forward post-Dwight Howard and look to build a contender? Or is he just a guy to fill the gap while the franchise is rebuilding, put up big numbers, and potentially become a trade chip — like we have seen with Rudy Gay and Brandon Jennings.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 01

Grades: Orlando Magic 93, Phoenix Suns 90

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AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

 

Orlando Magic 93 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Phoenix Suns

Nikola Vucevic
7-15 FG | 4-6 FT | 1 BLK | 8 REB | 18 PTS | -1

It was Vucevic’s right hook with 42.2 seconds left, which gave the Magic an 85-80 lead, that was a lightning rod for controversy. Replays showed that as Vucevic gathered the ball, he shuffled his feet before putting up the shot. It was an obvious travel call that was missed by the officials and prompted a technical foul to be called on coach Jeff Hornacek.

Tobias Harris
8-18 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 STL | 8 REB | 21 PTS | +1

Harris sank a difficult jump shot down the stretch that exemplified the type of shot-maker he can be for Orlando when the team needs a bucket. It happened late in the fourth quarter with the Magic clinging to an 81-76 lead. Harris was isolated against P.J. Tucker and made a fadeaway baseline jumper with Eric Bledsoe flying from the weak-side to contest the shot.

Evan Fournier
5-8 FG | 2-5 3P | 5 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | 0

It was just another day in the office for Fournier. He scored 15 points on eight shots and did it in customary fashion — 3-pointers, free throws, and layups. Those are the three most efficient shots in basketball, which means that not only is Fournier a samurai lookalike when he steps onto the floor but he’s an analytics dream as well.

Victor Oladipo
6-11 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS | -6

What was most interesting about Oladipo’s performance was that he played a good chunk of the game alongside Elfrid Payton, who had 7 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and was a team-high plus-10. When Orlando drafted Payton, many envisioned him in the starting backcourt with Oladipo. That hasn’t been the case yet, but that could change.

Phoenix Suns

It was an uninspiring performance for the Suns, who had the dubious claim of allowing the Magic to notch their first road win over a West team since March 4, 2013 against the New Orleans Hornets. Even though Phoenix was without its leading scorer (Isaiah Thomas), this was a winnable game against a beatable team. This loss will hurt.

Nov 30

Preview: Orlando Magic at Phoenix Suns

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Phoenix Suns
  • Date: November 30, 2014
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: US Airways Center

Records

  • Magic: 6-12
  • Suns: 10-7

Probable starters

Magic:

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

Suns:

  • Goran Dragic
  • Eric Bledsoe
  • Marcus Morris
  • Markieff Morris
  • Miles Plumlee

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 93.4 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.8 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.1 (18th of 30)

Suns:

  • Pace: 96.7 (4th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 107.7 (13th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.2 (14th of 30)

Read about the Suns

Valley of the Suns

Nov 29

Grades: Indiana Pacers 98, Orlando Magic 83

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Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Indiana Pacers 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
83 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
7-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 BLK | 7 REB | 16 PTS | -12

It was a modest performance for Vucevic’s standards, though he did manage to show off the diversity of his game. He made jump hooks in the post, he made midrange jumpers (including a running jumper ala Tobias Harris), and he made hook shots in pick-and-roll sets. The only thing that Vucevic didn’t do was get a double-double.

Tobias Harris
5-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -20

It’s always fun to see Harris play off of Channing Frye offensively, given that they’re first cousins. It happened twice in the fourth quarter. First, they ran a 3-4 pick-and-roll that led to a lefty layup for Harris. Then, they played a two-man game that led to a baseline jump shot for Harris (which included a nice backdoor pass by Frye).

Victor Oladipo
5-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 14 PTS | -11

Nearly everything was at the rim for Oladipo, which is what you want to see from him, given that he’s still developing his jump shot, and it resulted in an efficient outing on offense (14 points on seven shots). A major reason why Oladipo was so successful converting in the paint was no Roy Hibbert, who was out with a sprained ankle.

Ben Gordon
4-6 FG | 2-3 3P | 2 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -2

Gordon got his night started by pulling up for a YOLO 3-pointer in transition and making it, which served as a good omen for him. When Gordon has it going offensively, like he did against the Pacers, he can still fill it up in a hurry. That’s why the Magic signed him in free agency — to provide scoring off the bench.

Indiana Pacers

It’s jarring to see how different Indiana’s starting lineup is this season. No Paul George (out for the season with a fractured right leg), no Hibbert (sprained left ankle), no George Hill (bruised left knee and torn quadricep), and no Lance Stephenson, who’s now with the Charlotte Hornets. Yet the Pacers keep grinding out wins with their defense, like they did against Orlando.

Nov 28

Preview: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers
  • Date: November 28, 2014
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Records

  • Magic: 6-11
  • Pacers: 6-9

Probable starters

Magic:

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

Pacers:

  • Donald Sloan
  • Rodney Stuckey
  • Solomon Hill
  • Luis Scola
  • Ian Mahinmi

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 93.5 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.4 (25th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.1 (19th of 30)

Pacers:

  • Pace: 90.7 (27th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.7 (24th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.2 (10th of 30)

Read about the Pacers

8 Points, 9 Seconds

Nov 28

Evan Fournier taking advantage of his opportunity

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 1.14.28 PM

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Orlando Magic acquired Evan Fournier from the Denver Nuggets for Arron Afflalo (and the 56th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, which turned out to be Devyn Marble) in a draft day trade in June. The trade confused many people because it was basically a swap of two players and most considered Afflalo to be a superior player to Fournier.

Don’t tell that to Fournier, though. With a more expanded role than in his first two years in Denver, Fournier is having a career year so far with the Magic. He’s averaging career-highs in points (16.1), assists (2.4), and steals (0.6) per game.

Of course, Fournier’s per game averages have increased across the board because of his role with the Magic. Last season with the Nuggets, Fournier only averaged 19.8 minutes per game. Through 16 games this season, the third-year guard out of France is averaging 33.9 minutes per game.

With that said, it must be noted that Fournier is shooting the hell out of the ball. Although he’s cooled off noticeably in recent games, Fournier is making a career-best 44.9 percent of his 3-pointers (his career average is 39.4 percent). That is what has fueled his fast start.

Currently, Fournier is sporting a .575 True Shooting percentage. Considering the minutes he has played (543), he is off to one of the most efficient shooting seasons for any guard this season. He is one of only 14 guards in the NBA that have played more than 400 minutes and have a True Shooting percentage greater than .575 percent, per Basketball-Reference.

In addition, Fournier along with Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard are the only guards who have played more than 400 minutes and are shooting greater than 44.0 percent on 3-point attempts while taking at least four 3s a game, per Basketball-Reference. I’m not saying this is sustainable, but it is obvious Fournier looks more comfortable in shooting the deep ball than he did in Denver.

A lot of that has to do with coach Jacque Vaughn implementing Spurs-y type of offensive principles (drive-and-kicks, off-ball cutting, etc.) and the attention that Nikola Vucevic is drawing from defenders in the low post — allowing shooters like Fournier to spot up on the wing for open 3s.

Fournier is also getting to the free-throw line at a higher rate compared to his previous numbers. He currently has a .349 free-throw rate — meaning he gets to the foul line nearly 35.0 percent of the time he attempts a field goal. Last year, Fournier only had a .226 free-throw rate. The reason being? He’s attacking the rim and drawing fouls.

What’s interesting about Fournier is that, aside from his 3-point percentage and free-throw rate, he’s very much the same player he was in Denver — his per 36 numbers this season are nearly identical to his previous two seasons. Fournier is still shooting 3s, not taking many midrange jumpers, driving to the basket, and getting to the foul line at a reasonable rate. The only real change has been playing time and his samurai hair.

Magic officials were high on Fournier and knew he had room to grow. He’s an instinctive player who strives in a system where ball movement and cutting is a staple. Fournier just needed to find a team that would allow him to showcase his talents and he’s gotten that chance in Orlando.

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