- Teams: Orlando Magic at New Orleans Pelicans
- Date: January 26, 2014
- Time: 6:00 p.m.
- Television: Fox Sports Florida
- Arena: New Orleans Arena
- Magic: 12-32
- Pelicans: 17-25
- Jameer Nelson
- Victor Oladipo
- Arron Afflalo
- Tobias Harris
- Glen Davis
- Brian Roberts
- Eric Gordon
- Al-Farouq Aminu
- Anthony Davis
- Alexis Ajinca
- Pace: 94.2 (16th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 100.9 (26th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 106.7 (18th of 30)
- Pace: 92.6 (23rd of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 107.8 (10th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 110.1 (30th of 30)
Read about the Pelicans
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
7-12 FG | 7-9 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 23 PTS | +4
After an uncharacteristic six-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, Afflalo responded with a bounce-back game offensively versus the Lakers. As has been the trend for him all season long, Afflalo was economical with his touches (23 points on 12 shots). His efficiency was fueled primarily by his ability to get to the foul line and make his free throws.
9-15 FG | 9-11 FT | 20 REB | 4 AST | 28 PTS | +3
The silver lining with Vucevic (concussion) being out indefinitely is that it’s allowed Harris to slide to the power forward spot, which is his best position. Harris made his point loud and clear against the Lakers, as he picked up his first career 20-20 game — systematically destroying Ryan Kelly in the process — and was a bucket away from a 30-20 game.
7-11 FG | 4-6 3P | 4 REB | 6 AST | 22 PTS | +1
With Harris’ 20-20 game and Oladipo’s fast break theatrics, it’s easy to overlook the fact that Nelson had another excellent outing (which has been the norm for him in the month of January). And Nelson did practically all of his damage after halftime, scoring 20 of his 22 points in the second half. It’s easy to get hot on offense when you’re being left open.
5-14 FG | 4-6 FT | 12 REB | 5 AST | 15 PTS | +10
Oladipo had the play of the game, which occurred late in the third quarter. After Nick Young botched a layup in transition, Oladipo rebounded the miss and led a 3-on-2 fast break. Oladipo passed the ball to Afflalo, who passed it back to Oladipo, who then made a through-the-legs bounce pass to a trailing Harris for the layup and the foul.
|Los Angeles Lakers
It’s crazy to think about how far both franchises have fallen since the 2009 NBA Finals. A game between the Magic and Lakers used to be a marquee matchup. On Friday, it was a battle between two lottery teams that were missing key players (namely Kobe). The lone bright side was that it was an entertaining game that featured very little defense.
- Teams: Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic
- Date: January 24, 2014
- Time: 7:00 p.m.
- Television: Fox Sports Florida
- Arena: Amway Center
- Lakers: 16-27
- Magic: 11-32
- Kendall Marshall
- Jodie Meeks
- Welsey Johnson
- Jordan Hill
- Pau Gasol
- Jameer Nelson
- Victor Oladipo
- Arron Afflalo
- Tobias Harris
- Glen Davis
- Pace: 97.2 (3rd of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 103.3 (22nd of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 108.7 (26th of 30)
- Pace: 94.0 (16th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 100.6 (26th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 106.8 (17th of 30)
Read about the Lakers
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
It’s been five years since the Magic went to the NBA finals. That year, there was a marked energy around the city; the excitement and camaraderie between fans then is something many won’t forget.
Five years doesn’t feel like a long time, but you only have to think back to middle school to see that it is. You’re usually around 14 when you leave those gossipy halls. Then, five years later, you’re 19. Anybody feel like they were the same person at 19 as 14?
So a lot can change in that span of time, and even the most cohesive sports rosters won’t look the same after it. But it’s even worse for a rebuilding team. Just about every current Magic player would look at the Eastern Conference Championship banner from 2009 set up in the rafters at Amway Center and say, “Oh, that’s pretty cool,” feeling no real connection or personal pride about it.
It’s like going back to the ol’ middle school as your 19-year-old self to see all your former teachers and administrators, then finding out only Mr. Gladstone is still teaching there. Only he can laugh about the ruckus you used to cause, so you really hope he remembers you.
Today, when you compare the roster with 2009’s, Jameer Nelson is Orlando’s Mr. Gladstone. He remembers. But it’s only a matter of time before there is no thread left connected to that year.
Every team goes through it. Their identity evolves as talent ebbs and flows, superstars emerge, devastating injuries swoop in, and players leave unexpectedly. This is always happening.
It’s just interesting to sit back and think about what ties fans to their teams. There are a few possibilities.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk tabs Arron Afflalo as an All-Star reserve in the Eastern Conference.
- So does Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider. He had this to say about Afflalo: “With Irving voted into the starting lineup, everyone gets moved down a peg on my list. And that puts Afflalo in my wild-card slot. Afflalo was overwhelmed last season as Orlando’s No. 1 scoring option, but holy smokes is he thriving in that role this season. Of the 19 qualified players averaging 20 points per game this season, only LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Paul George and James Harden can match Afflalo’s true shooting percentage (58.3 percent). Not bad company.”
- For the Orlando Magic, late-game miscues doomed their chances of completing their comeback attempt against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
- The Magic are projected to select Andrew Wiggins with the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
- Afflalo has earned All-Star consideration. The question is whether or not the East coaches, who tend to reward players on winning teams, will penalize Afflalo for the Magic’s 11-32 record.
- Orlando gets a “C” for their performance versus the Hawks.
- Tobias Harris is trying to be more of a vocal leader.
- Doron Lamb had a breakout game of sorts (13 points on 5-for-6 shooting) against Atlanta, but is disappointed he fouled out in just 19 minutes of playing time.
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
The tank is good for you. That’s what everyone wants to believe.
When the games on the court become something of a lost cause, focus shifts to games of probability. The actual losses — those that show up in the box score and go down in the record books — are supposed to be net gains, moving the odds a percentage point or two in your favor. There are no guarantees, as Magic fans know all too well from the 2013 Draft Lottery,* but you roll with the numbers and put faith in the idea that they’ll play out more successfully than the season has.
*Though thanks to the Cavaliers selecting Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick, Orlando ended up getting the player they wanted anyway. Having Cleveland drafting ahead of you is a good way of hedging your risks, apparently.
Embracing the process is nice, of course. And when it works, you end up with Tim Duncan, which is also nice. But the process is also jagged and dark, a place where entertainment often goes to hibernate for the long winter of the rebuild. To tank is to climb K2 in the dark; to do so with grace would be to find the summit.
Through the first three weeks of 2014, the Magic have struggled mightily against the forces of the ascent. A back-and-forth victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday gave Orlando reprieve from a 10-game losing streak, but their struggles in January — and all season — are best summed up in a visualization from Basketball-Reference.com:
The green bars are wins, the red bars are losses. The slight breaks between groupings are the different months of the season. And that last group, with 12 (mostly big) red bars and one tiny green bar? That would be January, naturally. In an uphill fight, Orlando’s embroiled in a fight against gravity just to stand up.
All of this puts Magic fans in a pretty tough situation. The future of the franchise is the clear objective, even in the present, yet the games right now are all they really have. When you want to tune in and watch professional basketball, it sucks to know that you’re in for growing pains on a nightly basis.
Blowout losses are a distinct possibility, and the best-case scenario is a nail-biter that comes down to the final possession. Don’t get me wrong — close games are awesome. But it’s nice to win a blowout every once in a while, you know? At least Orlando fans could count on a few of those in the first month of the season.
Regardless of the potential for disappointment, however, Magic supporters will find the bright spots and continue to watch through the rough times. Be it the growth of Victor Oladipo (not to mention his devastating dunks), the post dominance of Nikola Vucevic, the All-Star candidacy of Arron Afflalo, the mystic legends of Glen Davis, there are positives here. There are reasons to watch and spend time with this team.
What other choice is there? Like everything else for the Magic, it’s an investment in the future.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
3-9 FG | 0-1 3P | 1 REB | 3 AST | 6 PTS | -15
With the All-Star reserves set to be announced on January 30, Afflalo picked a bad time to have his worst game of the season (his streak of scoring in double figures snapped at 37 consecutive games). He was a non-factor against the Hawks. Case in point: Afflalo was on the bench when the Magic went on two big scoring runs to erase a 19-point second half deficit.
8-13 FG | 6-7 FT | 7 REB | 7 AST | 24 PTS | -4
Oladipo wasn’t flashy, like he was with his first career triple-double game against the Philadelphia 76ers or his career-high 35-point performance against the Chicago Bulls, but he was excellent nonetheless, quietly putting together an efficient outing. Perhaps the most eye-opening thing is that Oladipo is getting more comfortable shooting his floater. He made two of them in the third quarter.
7-16 FG | 5-5 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | -11
Paul Millsap and Harris represent the old guard and the new guard of the NBA, given that Millsap is your classic power forward while Harris is your new-age stretch four. Needless to say, power beat fitness in this matchup. Millsap had a monster game (24 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks, 3 steals) and dismantled Harris in the low post.
6-11 FG | 5-5 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 17 PTS | -21
Nelson was the Tasmanian devil in the first half, whirling around and getting to the rim at will, which is where he did much of his damage offensively. At halftime, Nelson had 12 points and 7 assists, and was — by far — the Magic’s best player. But he was subdued in the second half and finished the game with a whimper.
When Jeff Teague made a 3-pointer to give the Hawks a 82-63 lead late in the third quarter, this game was all but over. But Orlando didn’t give up, going on runs of 17-6 and 16-2 to take the lead in the fourth quarter. But Atlanta recovered at the very end, holding on to win after Nelson missed a game-tying 3-pointer with time expiring.