Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 2

Dec 11

Poor late-game execution dooms Magic

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AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

ORLANDO, Fla. — If there’s one thing to take away from Courtney Lee’s buzzer-beater in Memphis, it’s that a lot can happen in 0.3 seconds, let alone 0.8 seconds. Coach Jacque Vaughn was aware of the choices the Wizards had on the game’s final possession with the score tied at 89.

“There are plenty of options at 0.8 seconds. You can catch-and-shoot, you can catch-and-turn, you can throw a lob, so they had a lot of options on the last play of the game,” said Vaughn.

Washington chose to throw a lob to Bradley Beal on an inbounds pass from Andre Miller, who’s one of the best lob throwers in the NBA. The play was executed to perfection, as Beal made a game-winning alley-oop layup at the buzzer to help the Wizards top the Magic 91-89 on Wednesday night.

Part of the reason that Miller and Beal were able to execute the lob was because of miscommunication from Orlando defensively. When asked what was discussed in the huddle before that final play, Victor Oladipo explained that the Magic were supposed to switch on everything.

“Yeah, just basically switch when the ball gets in,” said Oladipo. “After the ball’s passed in, just switch. It didn’t work out that way. They did a great job of cutting. It was a great pass and great finish, so credit to them for that.”

However, when asked the same question, Tobias Harris revealed a different answer.

“Basically, everybody just had to guard their guy,” said Harris. “It was a good draw-up they did to get the ball in the air. It was tough for Vic to turn around and try to get that basketball, so it was a good play.”

Because of that confusion, Oladipo and Harris did a poor job of defending the inbounds play. Oladipo and Harris were guarding Beal and Paul Pierce, respectively. Pierce set a screen on Oladipo. Instead of switching onto Beal, Harris stayed with Pierce.

That’s where things broke down for the Magic on defense. Because Harris didn’t switch onto Beal, Oladipo was forced to fight through Pierce’s screen. As a result, Oladipo was a half-second late in recovering and Beal made the game-winner.

This is the second time in eight days where Orlando lost in the final seconds of a game. In the first instance, Stephen Curry made a game-winning 3-pointer to lift the Warriors past the Magic in a 98-97 victory. But that was an example where Golden State won the game instead of Orlando losing it — a great player made a great play.

Against the Wizards, the Magic had the game won and lost it. Orlando had outplayed Washington in the second half and were up 89-86 with 40.9 seconds left with possession after an Elfrid Payton steal, before Harris was called for an offensive foul in transition a few seconds later.

It was evident in the Magic locker room afterwards that the players knew that they let the Wizards off the hook and it was a lack of execution late in the game that cost them a well-earned victory.

Dec 10

Grades: Washington Wizards 91, Orlando Magic 89

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AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

 

Washington Wizards 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
89 Orlando Magic

Victor Oladipo
7-16 FG | 1-3 3P | 6 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | -6

With 16.0 seconds left and the score tied at 89 apiece, the Magic ran a 1-3 pick-and-roll with Oladipo and Willie Green. However, Green didn’t make contact with Bradley Beal — Oladipo’s defender — on the screen. Additionally, Rasual Butler ignored Green to help on Oladipo momentarily. As a result, Oladipo settled for a contested jumper from the right wing and missed the shot. Bad play design.

Tobias Harris
7-11 FG | 1-2 3P | 1 STL | 6 REB | 15 PTS | -3

With roughly 41 seconds left, Payton ran a 3-on-2 fast break with Orlando leading 89-86. Harris filled the left side of the court, received a pass from Payton, and went up for a layup. However, he was called for an offensive foul — thanks to a John Wall flop. It was a crucial turnover that could have iced the game for the Magic.

Elfrid Payton
6-15 FG | 0-1 3P | 6 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS | -4

The good: Payton attacked the rim and wasn’t afraid to challenge the Wizards’ big men. He even got the best of Nene on one possession late in the third quarter, when he got Nene to jump on a head fake before finishing with a floater in the lane. The bad: Payton got suckered into trying to take advantage of mismatches too much whenever Washington switched defensively.

Kyle O’Quinn
4-15 FG | 1-2 3P | 6 REB | 4 AST | 10 PTS | +11

For Magic fans wondering why O’Quinn didn’t play crunch time minutes? Matchups. The Wizards went small, opting for a John Wall-Bradley Beal-Rasual Butler-Paul Pierce-Kris Humphries lineup, which forced coach Jacque Vaughn to play Frye at center. It’s a bit odd that coach Randy Wittman would choose Humphries as his center instead of Marcin Gortat or Nene, but it worked.

Washington Wizards

Trailing 89-84 with 1:38 left after Harris’ putback dunk, it looked like Washington was on its way to losing a game it had been outplayed in. But, thanks in large part due to Wall’s brilliance, the Wizards out-executed the Magic in crunch time and were able to escape Orlando with a victory in the most improbable circumstances — on a game-winning alley-oop layup.

Dec 10

Video: Beal’s game-winning alley-oop layup

Dec 10

Video: Dedmon’s one-handed alley-oop dunk

Dec 10

Preview: Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic
  • Date: December 10, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Wizards: 14-6
  • Magic: 9-14

Probable starters

Wizards:

  • John Wall
  • Bradley Beal
  • Paul Pierce
  • Kris Humphries
  • Marcin Gortat

Magic:

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

Advanced stats

Wizards:

  • Pace: 94.1 (9th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 106.1 (17th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.2 (5th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 93.2 (17th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.4 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.9 (18th of 30)

Read about the Wizards

Truth About It

Dec 09

3-on-3: Best Magic player of the season so far

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AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

With a month and a half of the season in the books, let’s take a look at the hot topics so far.

1. Best Magic player of the first month and a half of the season.

Joe Atmonavage: Nikola Vucevic. It’s clearly been Vucci Mane. The fourth-year big man is averaging 18.6 points and 11.7 rebounds per game with a 20.2 PER and .543 True Shooting percentage — all career-high numbers, sans the rebounding. The Magic are also at their best when they are running their offense through Vucevic.

Zachary Bennett: Tobias Harris. His shooting splits (48.7/52.9/85.7) over the last five games have been stellar in particular. That, and Harris’ turnover rate during that span is 4.9 percentage points lower than his season average (9.8 percent). That’s a strong indication of his improved decision-making.

Scott Rafferty: Nikola Vucevic. The Magic took some heat for signing Vucevic to a four-year, $53 million deal before the extension deadline, but he’s been worthy every penny this season. If he keeps going at this rate, he might just find himself representing the Magic at the All-Star game in the near future.

2. Best storyline of the first month and a half of the season.

Atmonavage: The emergence of Evan Fournier. When the Magic traded Arron Afflalo on draft night for Fournier, it seemed like a lopsided deal in favor of the Nuggets. But Fournier has been one of the Magic’s most consistent players with a lethal 3-point shot to boot.

Bennett: The growth and improvement of Victor Oladipo. He seems to be playing with more poise lately. Over the past five games, which have all been on the road, Oladipo is sporting a .633 True Shooting percentage. He looks to be rounding back into form after a slow start to the season following his facial fracture.

Rafferty: The jury is still out on Tobias Harris. Is he a numbers guy or a legitimate piece on a good team? Is he better suited as a big three or a small four? Either way, he’s been fantastic so far, posting career-highs across the board following an injury-riddled season in 2013-14. He’s working his way to a nice contract this upcoming offseason.

3. Best win of the first month and a half of the season.

Atmonavage: The Magic’s 93-90 win against the Suns on the road on November 30 was the best win of the season thus far. Anytime you can get a road win, it’s a big win, but holding a high-powered Western Conference team to only 90 points is something to build on.

Bennett: The 93-90 road victory over the Suns on November 30 stands out. It was the second of a six-game West Coast roadie, and I thought the outcome set the tone for the remainder the trip. The Magic went on to win two of the next four, and finished 3-3 during that stretch — it would’ve been 4-2, but, Steph Curry.

Rafferty: Even though the Hornets have been a disaster this season, the Magic’s victory in Charlotte on November 21 was impressive. Trailing by as many as 23 points, they found success with a small ball lineup that the Hornets couldn’t contain. Although the starters struggled to find their groove, the second unit, led by Elfrid Payton, got the job done.

Dec 08

The Willie Green-Maurice Harkless conundrum

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Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Magic fans have been up in arms this season by the amount of playing time that Willie Green has been getting off the bench (he’s averaging 15.5 minutes per game), despite the fact that he’s been the worst player on the roster. Green’s 3.6 PER is not only the lowest on the team, but it’s also far below replacement-level and a career-worst.

The lone reason that Green has been getting minutes is his defense, which has been a plus. The Magic allow 6.0 fewer points per 100 possessions when Green is on the floor, per NBA.com. In addition, Green has held opposing shooting guards and small forwards to PERs of 10.3 and 9.6, respectively.

The problem, of course, is that Green has been so atrocious offensively (he’s sporting an awful .370 True Shooting percentage) that it negates his positive impact on defense. Who could forget Green airballing a floater early in the fourth quarter in the Magic’s win over the Kings on Saturday?

That Green is getting consistent playing time for the Magic is a problem, but the real question is why can’t Maurice Harkless crack the rotation? The third-year swingman looked like a solid piece for the Magic heading into the 2014-15 season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 07

Grades: Orlando Magic 105, Sacramento Kings 96

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AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

 

Orlando Magic 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Sacramento Kings

Tobias Harris
10-17 FG | 4-5 3P | 4 REB | 1 AST | 27 PTS | +6

Saturday’s game may have been Harris’ best offensive performance of the season so far, as he scored a season-high 27 points. Most importantly, he did it efficiently. Coming off a 7-for-18 outing the night before in Utah, Harris played within himself and rarely forced a shot. The Magic offense looks a lot better when Harris is playing within the confines of the team’s system.

Victor Oladipo
6-15 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 16 PTS | +5

After an injury to start the season, it looks like Oladipo is beginning to find his stride over the last couple of games. While he struggled from the field in the win, Oladipo did manage to fill up the rest of the box score. This is why Oladipo is so valuable. He can affect a game in so many ways, even when he’s not shooting the ball well.

Evan Fournier
7-16 FG | 1-7 3P | 6 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | +7

Fournier struggled mightily in the first half, shooting 2-for-7 from the floor and being unable to get into any sort of offensive groove. However, he bounced back nicely in the second half, shooting 5-for-9 from the floor and scoring six big fourth quarter points, including back-to-back layups in the middle of the period to extend the Magic’s lead as the Kings came surging back.

Kyle O’Quinn
5-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 13 PTS | +12

The big fella took advantage of the other big fella (Nikola Vucevic) being out with back spasms over this recent West Coast trip. Over the six-game road trip, O’Quinn started four games and averaged 11.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 65.9 percent from the field in 16.2 minutes of action per contest.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings are just not the same team without Boogie Cousins. He missed Saturday’s matchup due to an illness and because of that, the Magic got up by 16 early in the fourth quarter. However, you have to credit the Kings for momentarily taking the lead late in the fourth. They just didn’t have enough without Cousins. And the Magic hit big shots when they needed them the most.

Dec 07

Video: Channing Frye makes miraculous 3-pointer

Dec 06

Preview: Orlando Magic at Sacramento Kings

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Sacramento Kings
  • Date: December 6, 2014
  • Time: 10:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Sleep Train Arena

Records

  • Magic: 8-14
  • Kings: 10-9

Probable starters

Magic:

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

Kings:

  • Darren Collison
  • Ben McLemore
  • Rudy Gay
  • Jason Thompson
  • Ryan Hollins

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 93.4 (17th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.7 (27th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.9 (18th of 30)

Kings:

  • Pace: 92.8 (20th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 107.7 (11th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.6 (22nd of 30)

Read about the Kings

Cowbell Kingdom

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