Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 4

Nov 04

Grades: Chicago Bulls 98, Orlando Magic 90

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Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Chicago Bulls 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
9-22 FG | 1-1 3P | 13 REB | 2 AST | 19 PTS | -7

Vucevic got off to a relatively quick start, scoring eight points in the first quarter and showing off nice synergy with Payton in pick-and-rolls. But his offense really tapered off as the night progressed and he struggled to make shots in the second half. Things got so bad for Vucevic that Aaron Brooks managed to get a weak-side block on him late in the fourth quarter.

Tobias Harris
9-15 FG | 3-3 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 21 PTS | 0

After a poor performance against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, Harris had himself a bounce-back game versus the Bulls. Which is quite impressive, given that Jimmy Butler was defending him primarily. There were two possessions in the first half where Harris beat Butler on backdoor cuts, which led to dunks. Harris also got things going on offense in pick-and-roll sets with Vucevic.

Evan Fournier
5-14 FG | 2-5 3P | 3 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -12

It wasn’t the most efficient outing offensively for Fournier, who uncharacteristically took (and missed) a number of long two’s. This isn’t to say that Fournier didn’t attack the rim. He did. But he settled for way too many jump shots on the perimeter. Credit should go to the Chicago defense for forcing Fournier to shoot several tough, contested jumpers.

Elfrid Payton
3-14 FG | 3-7 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 9 PTS | -2

Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Payton is one of three players in NBA history to start his career with four straight games of seven assists or more (Oscar Robertson and John Wall being the other two). That’s impressive for a rookie. His 9 point-7 assist-6 rebound-3 steal-1 block stat line? Also impressive. Him shooting 3-for-14 from the floor and struggling to make jump shots? Not so impressive.

Chicago Bulls

No Derrick Rose. No Joakim Noah. No problem. The Bulls lollygagged on defense, allowing the Magic to score 56 points in the first half before tightening things up after halftime. Chicago got good contributions from Brooks (13 points, 8 assists, 3 blocks?!), Doug McDermott (12 points), and Nikola Mirotic (8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) off the bench.

Nov 04

Video: Elfrid Payton shows off his passing ability

Nov 04

Preview: Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls
  • Date: November 4, 2014
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: United Center

Records

  • Magic: 0-3
  • Bulls: 2-1

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Elfrid Payton
  • Evan Fournier
  • Tobias Harris
  • Channing Frye
  • Nikola Vucevic

Bulls:

  • Kirk Hinrich
  • Jimmy Butler
  • Mike Dunleavy Jr.
  • Taj Gibson
  • Pau Gasol

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.9 (11th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 97.3 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 110.3 (26th of 30)

Bulls:

  • Pace: 92.2 (24th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 111.1 (7th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.5 (11th of 30)

Read about the Bulls

Blog a Bull

Nov 03

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com on the Magic’s first week of the season: “Vooch! Who wants to read about Victor Oladipo’s injury or Elfrid Payton’s tough baptism when Nikola Vucevic is racking up 15 points, 23 boards and 4 blocks as just the fourth player in recorded history to hit those levels in a season opener? The others: Bob McAdoo (1973), Bill Walton (1974) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975).”
  • Kudos for Elfrid Payton.
  • Sam Vecenie of CBSSports.com praises Payton: “I wasn’t high on Payton coming out of Louisiana-Lafayette, but he has been one of the better rookies so far. His vision is outstanding, and he plays aggressively at both ends. Whether that will translate totally once the book gets out on his shooting is up for debate, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.”
  • It’s early, but Evan Fournier is showing why the Magic were high on him when they acquired him in the Arron Afflalo trade. In the season’s opening week, Fournier averaged 16.7 points per game with a .689 True Shooting percentage.
  • Kyle O’Quinn (ankle) is questionable to play on Tuesday against the Chicago Bulls.
  • John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “Ben Gordon scored as many points (22) against the Wizards on Thursday as he did in any two games last season, Elfrid Payton looked like a Rookie of the Year candidate against the Raptors on Saturday, and Nikola Vucevic has put up big numbers. But overall, the Magic have been bad, especially in third quarters, in which they’ve been outscored 96-64.”

Nov 02

Grades: Toronto Raptors 108, Orlando Magic 95

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Toronto Raptors 108 Final
Recap | Box Score
95 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
7-11 FG | 0-2 FT | 12 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | -24

In the Magic’s first two regular games, Vucevic whipped out some moves that Magic fans haven’t seen before. The same was the case versus the Raptors. On one possession, Vucevic found himself isolated against Jonas Valanciunas on the perimeter and blew past him for a reverse lefty dunk. On another possession, Vucevic made a 3-point shot on the right wing. What’s gotten into Vucevic?

Evan Fournier
6-10 FG | 5-7 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 18 PTS | -11

Fournier scored a team-high 18 points and did it in his usual manner — layups, free-throws, and 3-pointers. Early on in his Magic tenure, what’s been most impressive about Fournier has been his aggressiveness driving to the basket. Though that nearly cost him when he tweaked his right ankle early in the third quarter on a cut to the rim. He ended up finishing the game.

Elfrid Payton
6-12 FG | 4-8 FT | 3 REB | 9 AST | 16 PTS | -8

It was a career-night for Payton, who had career highs in points and assists. And he nearly had his first career double-double (he was an assist shy). The most encouraging takeaway from Payton’s performance was his willingness to shoot jumpers on the perimeter and, more importantly, making two of them. Payton’s jump shooting will be key to his development.

Tobias Harris
4-15 FG | 2-4 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | -21

Harris struggled on offense, particularly in the paint. He shot 3-for-10 at the rim, which was the root of his problems. The Raptors’ defense deserve credit for being physical with Harris and putting a body on him whenever he got into the lane. Harris struggled to deal with the physicality, throwing up a lot of errant shots that had no chance of going in.

Toronto Raptors

The sole reason why Toronto won this game was because Orlando fouled incessantly. The Magic committed 37 team fouls, while the Raptors committed 21 team fouls. As a result, the game ended with a 48-24 disparity in free throw attempts in Toronto’s favor. It tough to win games when you foul that much and Orlando found that out the hard way.

Nov 01

Video: Nikola Vucevic with a lefty reverse dunk

Nov 01

Preview: Toronto Raptors at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Toronto Raptors at Orlando Magic
  • Date: November 1, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Raptors: 1-0
  • Magic: 0-2

Probable starters

Raptors:

  • Kyle Lowry
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Terrence Ross
  • Amir Johnson
  • Jonas Valanciunas

Magic:

  • Elfrid Payton
  • Evan Fournier
  • Aaron Gordon
  • Tobias Harris
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Raptors:

  • Pace: 91.1 (19th of 28)
  • Offensive Rating: 114.8 (5th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.4 (19th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 95.1 (10th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 95.7 (25th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 108.3 (23rd of 30)

Read about the Raptors

Raptors Republic

Nov 01

Tobias Harris and the Magic reach a stalemate

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Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

The Orlando Magic had until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, October 31, to extend Tobias Harris’ rookie contract. However, the two sides failed to reach an agreement. Harris is now set to become a restricted free agent during the offseason.

While it’s no surprise the Magic went down this route with Harris, it makes matters more difficult when it comes to retaining him in the future.

Prior to his arrival in Orlando, Harris was a non-factor for a sub-.500 Milwaukee Bucks team. He only played in 42 games as a rookie in 2011-12 (averaging 11.4 minutes per game) and didn’t see his minutes increase as a sophomore in 2012-13. But after being traded to the Magic at the deadline in the J.J. Redick deal in February 2013, Harris showcased what he could be, putting up gaudy averages of 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per contest in 36.1 minutes per game.

The Magic were hoping Harris would build upon that success in 2013-14 and emerge as one of the stars on their young, inexperienced roster, but his season got off to a shaky start while he recovered from a high ankle sprain. As the season wore on, Harris struggled to get back into form and never found his feet.

For that reason, the Magic don’t have a large sample size to base what Harris truly brings to the team. He’s proven he can carry the team offensively on any given night, but consistency is lacking. He flaunted off the ability to stretch the floor when he first came to Orlando, but he connected on only 25.4 percent of his 3s last season. And although he’s spent the bulk of his minutes as a power forward, it remains to be seen what his “true position” is.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 31

Grades: Washington Wizards 105, Orlando Magic 98

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Washington Wizards 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
98 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
11-21 FG | 1-2 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 23 PTS | -2

Midrange jumpers. Hook shots. Layups. Vucevic could do no wrong offensively. The problem was that Marcin Gortat (20 points and 13 rebounds) was equally infallible on offense. And that’s the rub with Vucevic. For as good as he’s looked on the offensive side of the ball since the start of preseason, his defense needs to be much better than it currently is.

Ben Gordon
7-12 FG | 6-7 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 22 PTS | +9

Gordon came off the bench and did what he does best — score. He scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half (11 in the fourth quarter) and gave the Magic a much-needed boost offensively when they needed points. The lone negative was coach Jacque Vaughn’s curious decision to have Gordon defend Paul Pierce in crunch time. It didn’t work.

Evan Fournier
8-10 FG | 3-4 3P | 1 STL | 4 REB | 21 PTS | -2

When the Magic acquired Fournier from the Denver Nuggets in the Arron Afflalo trade, this is the player they are hoping to see consistently. Fournier’s play of the game came late in the fourth quarter when the Magic were trying to erase a 16-point fourth quarter deficit. He made a 3-pointer from Saint-Maurice, France that cut the Wiz’s lead to three and prompted a timeout from coach Randy Wittman.

Tobias Harris
4-12 FG | 5-7 FT | 1 STL | 4 REB | 14 PTS | -15

It wasn’t the best night for Harris. His jump shot was off (though he did attack the rim and get to the free-throw line). And he had the dubious task of defending Nene in the fourth quarter when Vaughn stuck with a lineup of Ridnour-Gordon-Fournier-Harris-Vucevic that had, to be fair, helped the Magic get back into the game.

Washington Wizards

It was the John Wall show. Washington’s franchise player and All-Star point guard finished with 30 points, 12 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. He was excellent on both ends of the floor and he came through in the clutch. With the Wizards clinging to a 100-98 lead, it was Wall’s layup with 28.4 seconds left that iced the game.

Oct 30

Video: Gordon-to-Gordon alley-oop connection

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