Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 5

Jan 08

Grades: Denver Nuggets 93, Orlando Magic 90

Capture

Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

 

Denver Nuggets 93 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
8-18 FG | 4-6 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 20 PTS | +1

It’s an event when Vucevic dunks the ball because it only happens occasionally. But it happened midway through the second quarter against the Nuggets. Vucevic got the ball on the left block, dribbled past Jusuf Nurkic, and threw it down over J.J. Hickson. It’s a shame that Vucevic doesn’t attack the rim more often, because he’s a strong finisher.

Victor Oladipo
7-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 STL | 6 REB | 17 PTS | -1

Every single made basket for Oladipo was at the rim (7-for-9). Oladipo had the most success in pick-and-roll sets, where he put Denver’s perimeter defenders in a ringer — with the help of a Vucevic or O’Quinn screen — and zipped past them for layups off the dribble. In fact, many of them were contested, but Oladipo was able to convert.

Evan Fournier
4-8 FG | 2-5 3P | 3 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -6

In his first game back in Denver since being traded by the Nuggets for Arron Afflalo (and the 56th pick in the 2014 draft, which later became Devyn Marble), Fournier played well — and even had one of his better games in recent weeks. The rough runner he made while being fouled early in the fourth quarter was Manu Ginobili-like.

Tobias Harris
5-13 FG | 2-3 3P | 2 BLK | 6 REB | 12 PTS | +7

Harris is a microcosm of the Magic’s offensive struggles this season, which too often devolves into isolations when the primary play breaks down (there is rarely any secondary action). Ironically, when Harris made a field goal, it mostly came on a set play. When Harris missed, it’s largely because he involved himself in an iso that led to a contested shot.

Denver Nuggets

There’s no reason why Denver shouldn’t have blown out Orlando at home in the infamous altitude, other than the fact that the Nuggets aren’t a very good team. Afflalo, a former Magic player from the previous two seasons, played with an extra pep in his step and understandably so. Fournier played with a similar edge against his former team.

Jan 08

Video: Nikola Vucevic throws it down

Jan 07

Preview: Orlando Magic at Denver Nuggets

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Denver Nuggets
  • Date: January 7, 2015
  • Time: 9:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Pepsi Center

Records

  • Magic: 13-24
  • Nuggets: 15-20

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Elfrid Payton
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Tobias Harris
  • Kyle O’Quinn
  • Nikola Vucevic

Nuggets:

  • Ty Lawson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Wilson Chandler
  • Kenneth Faried
  • Jusuf Nurkic

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 92.6 (23rd of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.2 (29th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.9 (19th of 30)

Nuggets:

  • Pace: 95.9 (5th of 30))
  • Offensive Rating: 105.5 (17th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.4 (21st of 30)

Read about the Nuggets

Roundball Mining Company

Jan 07

Poof! Magic’s playoff hopes disappear

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AP Photo/John Raoux

The Magic opened the 2014-15 NBA season playing 19 of their first 28 games on the road. During that stretch, Orlando was 10-18 and No. 9 in the Eastern Conference — two games back of the Nets and the eighth seed. In fact, the Magic’s record could have been better, having lost two games to the Warriors and Wizards on game-winning shots by Stephen Curry and Bradley Beal.

With seven of their next nine games at home (with two consecutives road games sandwiched between a four-game homestand and three-game homestand), and six of them coming against sub-.500 teams, the opportunity was there for the Magic to gain ground in the East standings and improve their playoff odds.

Instead, the opposite occurred. The Magic went 1-6, and now just have a 1.6 percent chance of making the playoffs after losing ground to the Celtics, Hornets, and Pistons, per Hollinger’s Playoff Odds. And in their lone win, the Magic nearly blew a 25-point fourth quarter lead against Boston.

How bad were the Magic in those seven games at Amway Center? Their opponents outscored them by 7.9 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com. In the last three home games against the Pistons, Nets, and Hornets, Orlando had deficits of 26, 26, and 23, respectively. Rock bottom came during Saturday’s loss, when Charlotte went on a 22-0 run and held the Magic scoreless over the last 6:59 of the second quarter.

That this all happened at home has to be alarming for coach Jacque Vaughn. His team played with very little energy and effort, and showed a lack of mental toughness.

“Fragility” is the buzzword that’s permeating through the walls at Amway. The Magic are fragile right now.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 05

Power Rankings Roundup: Week 10

 
Matt Moore, CBS Sports: No. 24 (Last week: No. 19)

Three straight losses to Pistons, Nets, and Hornets — not exactly a murderer’s row. Orlando tried making a leap this season, but it won’t happen unless it gets a significant talent injection.

Marc Stein, ESPN: No. 26 (Last week: No. 23)

A home defeat to Detroit to close out the calendar year, followed by two more losses at home to Brooklyn and Charlotte to launch 2015, is the last thing Orlando’s bid to hang around the top eight needed. Next up is a four-game trip … followed (ugh) by a Houston/Memphis/Oklahoma City homestand.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: No. 27 (Last week: No. 24)

They Magic got a win in Miami and a near triple-double from Elfrid Payton in a near comeback against Brooklyn last week. But if they wanted to compete for a playoff spot, they needed more from their last 10 games, with seven of them at home and nine of them against teams that are below .500. They went 3-7, scoring less than a point per possession.

Drew Garrison, SB Nation: No. 22 (Last week: No. 21)

The Magic lost to Detroit and Charlotte in the same week, and are embarking on four-game road trip that includes three West teams and ends in Chicago. Then, they come home to face the Rockets, Grizzlies and Thunder. They’ll need some Magic to move up the power rankings over the next few weeks.

Matt Dollinger, Sports Illustrated: No. 24 (Last week: No. 21)

After a scintillating start to the season, Evan Fournier is currently mired in an ugly spell. Since being demoted from the starting lineup eight games ago, Fournier is shooting just 34.9 percent.

Marc J. Spears, Yahoo! Sports: No. 21 (Last week: No. 21)

Rookie Elfrid Payton has been picking up his game recently, averaging 9.2 points, 7.8 assists and 4.6 assists over his past five games.

Jan 04

Grades: Charlotte Hornets 98, Orlando Magic 90

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Charlotte Hornets 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
8-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 BLK | 10 REB | 20 PTS | +3

Late in the first quarter, Vucevic scored eight consecutive points for the Magic (two free-throws, a right hook in the paint, a jumper from the right corner, and another jumper from the left elbow). It was his best stretch of the game. Outside of that, Vucevic — despite getting a double-double — played with little energy and got outworked on the boards.

Victor Oladipo
6-14 FG | 8-8 FT | 4 STL | 5 REB | 21 PTS | +7

After a lackluster first half (4 points on 0-for-2 shooting), Oladipo stepped up and scored 10 points in the third quarter as the Magic tried to erase a 23-point halftime deficit. With Bismack Biyombo in foul trouble, Orlando did a smart job of running 1-5 pick-and-rolls with Vucevic to take advantage of the ground-bound Maxiell at the rim.

Tobias Harris
8-15 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 BLK | 11 REB | 18 PTS | -3

Harris had the play of the game when he went right through Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for a dunk late in the first quarter. And that was it for noteworthy plays from Harris. He got a double-double, but it didn’t matter because the Magic were getting blown out for a majority of the time before making the final score look respectable.

Evan Fournier
4-15 FG | 1-7 3P | 1 STL | 5 REB | 9 PTS | -2

The struggle is real for Fournier, who has been in the middle of a slump for the past few weeks and he didn’t snap out of it against the Hornets. He tried attacking the rim. That didn’t work. He tried shooting 3-pointers. That didn’t work either. One of the best remedies is to get to the line, but Fournier didn’t attempt a single free-throw.

Charlotte Hornets

Kemba Walker’s eyes light up when he sees a Magic uniform. He didn’t set a new career-high in points on Saturday night, but he did have another big game (30 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals). This time around, Walker got help from his teammates — unlike on December 27). Stat of the night: the Hornets held Orlando scoreless over the last 6:59 in the second quarter.

Jan 04

Video: Tobias Harris posterizes MKG

Jan 03

Preview: Charlotte Hornets at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Charlotte Hornets at Orlando Magic
  • Date: January 3, 2015
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Hornets: 10-24
  • Magic: 13-23

Probable starters

Hornets:

  • Kemba Walker
  • Gerald Henderson
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
  • Cody Zeller
  • Bismack Biyombo

Magic:

  • Elfrid Payton
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Tobias Harris
  • Kyle O’Quinn
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Hornets:

  • Pace: 92.5 (24th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.8 (29th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.2 (16th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 92.7 (22nd of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.1 (28th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.8 (18th of 30)

Read about the Hornets

Queen City Hoops

Jan 03

Highlights: Elfrid Payton’s near triple-double

Jan 03

Grades: Brooklyn Nets 100, Orlando Magic 98

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AP Photo/John Raoux

 

Brooklyn Nets 100 Final
Recap | Box Score
98 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
4-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | -12

For a second straight game, Vucevic was dreadful. Mason Plumlee (18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks) was literally flying everywhere on the floor, while the slow-footed Brook Lopez (16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks) looked spry himself. Vucevic, on the other hand, played with little energy and effort after the opening frame, along with the majority of his teammates.

Elfrid Payton
6-13 FG | 3-5 FT | 9 REB | 10 AST | 16 PTS | +12

Payton is a fighter. There’s no quit in him. With the Magic trailing by 25 entering the fourth quarter, Payton kept playing. Eventually, his persistence paid off, as he led Orlando on a 34-12 run that cut the Nets’ lead to three with 1:04 remaining. Even though the Magic’s comeback fell short, Payton deserves kudos for his performance (1 rebound shy of his first career triple-double).

Victor Oladipo
7-13 FG | 2-2 3P | 3 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | -21

Through three quarters, Oladipo was Orlando’s most effective player (he was 7-for-13 while the rest of the team was 16-for-52) before only playing one second in the fourth. His best sequence came late in the second quarter when he made back-to-back 3s from the left corner. Those are the type of shots that Oladipo has to make if he wants to continue improving as a perimeter shooter.

Ben Gordon
5-9 FG | 1-3 3P | 1 STL | 4 REB | 14 PTS | +13

Out of all the Magic’s free agent signings, who would have thought that Gordon — not Channing Frye, as presumed — would be making the biggest impact? Gordon turned back the clock and scored 14 points in the final period in a vintage shooting display. It was Gordon, along with Payton, that led the comeback charge for Orlando in the fourth.

Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn played brilliantly for 36 minutes. The ball was moving offensively. The defense was playing on a string. Then everything changed in the fourth quarter. After sleepwalking through a majority of the game, the Magic woke up and nearly erased a 26-point deficit (trying to outdo their 23-point comeback in a win against the Hornets in November) before the Nets held on for the two-point victory.

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