- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reveals how much Victor Oladipo has struggled finishing at the rim so far this season: “Oladipo has had his shot blocked 38 times this season — with 31 of those blocks occurring within 5 feet of the basket — according to the NBA’s official statistics database. Through Thursday, only five players have had their shot blocked more often than Oladipo: Evan Turner, Greg Monroe, David Lee, Nikola Pekovic and DeMarcus Cousins.”
- Arron Afflalo, who missed Tuesday’s game against the Utah Jazz with an illness, expects to play on Saturday versus the Sacramento Kings.
- Maurice Harkless wants to play more.
- Orlando Pinstriped Post takes a look at small forward prospects currently in college that could help the Magic next season.
- The struggle is real for Oladipo, who’s still trying to acclimate himself to the NBA style of play.
Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images
Arron Afflalo is an All-Star. Admittedly, a large percentage of his All-Star credentials is due to the watered-down nature of the Eastern Conference this year. It’s a well-worn, beaten down, deceased horse of a topic at this point.
It’s also inextricably linked to the candidacy of anyone not named LeBron James. Competition across the board in the East is as far removed from fierce as possible, and either as a symptom or the cause of the devastatingly poor play, potential All-Stars are few and far between.
Yet regardless of the performances of his peers, Arron Afflalo is an All-Star. Unfortunately for him, and for Magic fans, not many people know it. While “Spell Check” continues to light up opponents on a nightly basis, most eyes are turned elsewhere, soaking in what they believe to be a more entertaining product involving teams west of the Mississippi River.
And Afflalo did himself no favors with his play last season, which, to put it kindly, was something of a disappointment. Touted as one of the prized acquisitions in the Dwight Howard trade, he failed to play up to expectations, turning in something of a wasted year. The fanfare that surrounded Afflalo upon his arrival in Orlando quickly evaporated, leaving a player alone to find his way back to the spotlight.
To say that Afflalo has had a better season in 2013-14 is to drastically undersell the improvements he’s made and the level at which he’s played.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
5-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 BLK | 14 REB | 14 PTS | -1
It’s rare to see Vucevic have an inefficient shooting night, but that’s what happened against the Jazz. He shot 4-for-12 from the rim, and Derrick Favors deserves a lot of credit for making it difficult for Vucevic to score in the paint by blocking several of his shots and altering a few others. Favors’ length bothered Vucevic more than anything else.
5-12 FG | 3-7 3P | 5 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | +15
There were two major storylines in this game and Nelson was involved in both of them. First, he got torched defensively by Trey Burke. Second, with the Magic trailing 84-82 with 10 seconds left, Nelson missed a game-tying layup — credit goes to Favors for altering the trajectory of Nelson’s shot by forcing him to toss it a bit higher off the glass than normal.
5-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -6
Starting at small forward in place of Arron Afflalo (illness), Harris got extended minutes and picked up his first double-double of the season. But he did have his struggles offensively. Like Vucevic, Harris had a lot of trouble finishing at the rim due to the length of the Jazz defenders. Harris did have moderate success scoring on the perimeter, though.
5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 BLK | 4 REB | 12 PTS | +4
Davis had a quiet performance, in part because he didn’t get a lot of playing time. Orlando had the most success against Utah when playing the lineup of Nelson-Moore-Harkless-Nicholson-Vucevic. That’s partly because Nicholson can space the floor better at the power forward position. But Davis played in crunch time and acquitted himself nicely by making a fadeaway jumper and a pair of free throws, though it wasn’t enough.
Coming off a poor performance (season-low three points on 1-for-8 shooting) against the Miami Heat on Monday, Burke bounced back in a big way by scoring a career-high 30 points (12-for-20). It was the most points scored by a rookie this season. Burke blitzed the Magic in the pick-and-roll, which is where he did most of his damage on offense, and completely outshone Victor Oladipo.
- Teams: Utah Jazz at Orlando Magic
- Date: December 17, 2013
- Time: 7:00 p.m.
- Television: Fox Sports Florida
- Arena: Amway Center
- Jazz: 6-21
- Magic: 8-17
- Trey Burke
- Gordon Hayward
- Marvin Williams
- Richard Jefferson
- Derrick Favors
- Jameer Nelson
- Victor Oladipo
- Tobias Harris
- Glen Davis
- Nikola Vucevic
- Pace: 91.6 (26th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 101.2 (24th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 110.7 (30th of 30)
- Pace: 94.9 (12th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 101.0 (25th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 105.3 (16th of 30)
Read about the Jazz
- Matt Moore of CBSSports.com on the Orlando Magic’s win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday: “They just had more weapons than Chicago, which says a lot about where the Bulls are at. But having Nikola Vucevic back for them makes such a huge difference. They’re just a much better team with what he brings down low, especially on the glass. Wins will be tough to come by but they fight for the ones they get.”
- Arron Afflalo continues his strong season with his 23-point performance against the Bulls.
- Richard Bilbao of Orlando Business Journal: “The Orlando Magic’s final schedule for its $200 million downtown complex is still being determined, but for the biggest bang in Orlando history, the team should shoot for finishing by at least 2017. Here’s why: At an OBJ event on Dec. 13, Magic CEO Alex Martins said the team will begin the bidding process in March to bring the 2017 or 2018 NBA All-Star Game back to Orlando.”
- Trade ideas for the Magic’s veterans.
- In his second year in the NBA, Andrew Nicholson has been a steady presence for Orlando.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 BLK | 10 REB | 11 PTS | 0
When Vucevic steps onto the floor, you can pencil him in for a double-double almost every night. Matched up against Joakim Noah, one of the better centers in the NBA, Vucevic didn’t have much difficulty getting his numbers. But he did get outplayed by Nosh in crunch time when the Bulls made a late comeback attempt to almost steal a win.
8-14 FG | 5-6 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 23 PTS | 0
Afflalo’s name has been mentioned as a possible candidate for an All-Star berth in the Eastern Conference and games like these are the reason why. Luol Deng is widely seen as an elite perimeter defender, yet Afflalo systemically destroyed him. He was drilling jumpers everywhere, with Deng draped all over him in many instances, and he did it efficiently. It was an eye-opening performance from Afflalo.
6-15 FG | 2-4 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | +4
Big Baby is a poor offensive player and one of the main reasons why is because he struggles finishing in the paint. That was the case against the Bulls, as Davis shot 2-for-7 at the rim. But one of those two baskets ended up being a highlight-reel worthy play — Davis executed his patented spin move in the post on Boozer to free himself up for an uncontested layup.
6-13 FG | 2-4 3P | 5 REB | 7 AST | 14 PTS | +9
Although Chicago has a top-five defense, they don’t have a rim protector like the Indiana Pacers do with Roy Hibbert or the San Antonio Spurs do with Tim Duncan. And Nelson was able to take advantage of that, knifing his way into the lane like a surgeon and making several layups off the dribble. The Bulls big men offered little-to-no resistance.
Orlando was in complete control of this game for three-and-a-half quarters. Then with the Magic leading 78-67 with 5:40 left in the fourth quarter, Chicago went on a 12-2 run to pull themselves within a point with 19.4 seconds left. But after Afflalo split a pair of free throws, Deng missed a point-blank layup on the ensuing possession that would have tied things up. Ballgame.
- Teams: Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls
- Date: December 15, 2013
- Time: 8:00 p.m.
- Television: Fox Sports Florida
- Arena: United Center
- Magic: 7-17
- Bulls: 9-13
- Jameer Nelson
- Victor Oladipo
- Arron Afflalo
- Glen Davis
- Nikola Vucevic
- Marquis Teague
- Jimmy Butler
- Luol Deng
- Carlos Boozer
- Joakim Noah
- Pace: 95.1 (11th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 101.3 (24th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 105.8 (18th of 30)
- Pace: 90.5 (28th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 99.3 (28th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 100.6 (4th of 30)
Read about the Thunder
Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
6-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 16 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -2
It was a relatively quiet night for Vucevic. He made the most noise in the first quarter — flirting with a double-double (eight points and eight rebounds) — before discreetly going about his business the remainder of the game. In fact, Vucevic may have been too discrete. It never felt like he made any tangible impact when he was on the floor.
5-12 FG | 5-8 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | +3
Russell Westbrook is seen by many as the best-case scenario for Oladipo. Westbrook was a shooting guard in college with explosive athleticism that successfully converted to the point guard position in the NBA. The Magic hope Oladipo can do the same. The flashes are there. Against the Thunder, Oladipo made several nice pocket passes to his teammates that led to made baskets.
9-20 FG | 2-7 3P | 4 REB | 2 AST | 25 PTS | +2
As the fourth quarter got underway, it seemed like Afflalo was well on his way to another substandard performance offensively. He had as many points as shots (16). Then midway through the period, Afflalo started to catch fire. He scored nine points (3-for-4 shooting) and helped the Magic nearly steal a win on the road against an undefeated Oklahoma City team at home.
4-11 FG | 4-7 3P | 1 REB | 8 AST | 13 PTS | +2
All of Nelson’s made field goals were 3-pointers. He tried to score at the rim, but the Thunder did a good job of contesting his shots. The one possession that stands out the most occurred in the fourth quarter when Nelson drove to the basket and Kevin Durant came from the weak-side to swat his shot into the stands. That’s the type of interior defense Nelson was dealing with.
|Oklahoma City Thunder
Durant and Westbrook stuffed the stat sheet, but that’s to be expected. The Oklahoma City players that truly impressed were Jeremy Lamb (16 points) and Reggie Jackson (10 points). Lamb, with his silky smooth jumper, and Jackson, with his aggressive forays at the rim, provided a spark off the bench. For those that have followed the Thunder closely this season, this is nothing new.