The Young Orlando Magic squad have moments of brilliance, mostly when Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo are in sync enough to go off offensively, but with a very young point guard, a black hole at the power forward position and Tobias Harris sitting out with an ankle injury, it can still get really ugly for fans of the pinstripe. I took a look at the Magic’s four game Western road trip and saw how the team could stack against the tougher conferece.
Orlando 90 at Denver Nuggets 93
Overall not a bad effort from the Magic team, but they just couldn’t keep up the veteran backcourt of Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo. The Nugs guards combined for 40 points, 8 assists and 9 rebounds.
Elfrid Payton was kept to two points, Victor Oladipo has 17 points and Nikola Vucevic took it to the interior for 20 points and 11 rebounds. The power forward position completly failed to show up this game. Kyle O’Quin continues his shooting struggle and only played 15 minutes and had 5 points. Andrew Nicholson fared better with 11 points, but it took him 11 shots to get there and Channing Frye went scoreless.
But there were good things to walk away from this game. Kenneth Faried was kept to two points, Jusuf Nurkic only had 8 points, the Magic forced 32 turnovers and had 11 steals. But the young guard core just couldn’t keep up.
Orlando 84 at Los Angeles Lakers 101
The Magic went down at the hands of one of those “Kobe Bryant is Sitting, so the Lakers will be good” games. Jeremy Lin had 19 points, so that was the kind of night the Magic were going to have to begin with. Kyle O’Quin’s downfall continued with 0 points with only 4 shots in 28 minutes. Elfrid Payton was shut down by Ronnie Price and he ended the night with 2 points, 2 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks. He only attempted 4 shots as well, but the low assist number is pretty upsetting. The Magic did keep the Lakers from running, because they only had 3 fast break points, but were just busted from getting shots, as a team they only had 76 shooting attempts.
This game was a little more promising, as the Blazers are really really good and the Magic were only 9 points away. Nikola Vucevic took over in the paint with 34 points, 16 rebounds and 2 steals. Victor Oladipo held up his end of the bargin with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists, but it took 21 shots to get there and no three pointers.
The 4 spot is still a glaring weakness for the Magic, but Kyle O’Quin was finally sat for Channing Frye, but his production was only marginally better. Frye shot 1 for 10 from the field and 1 for 8 from three points for 3 points total. He filled out the stat sheet a little better than O’Quin with 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Elfrid Payton also marginally bumped up his night with 9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, but that assist number has to start rising. Payton has to develop better moves with either a strong drive and kick to Oladipo or a pick and roll with Vucevic.
The Magic defense did an okay job. LaMarcus Aldridge ripped into them for 25 points, but Damain Lilliard was held to 16 points on 3 for 10 shooting and Wesley Matthews had 18 points. But keeping some of the Blazers three weapons under 20 is a good night.
Orlando 121 at Chicago Bulls 114
The Magic finally end the 6 game losing skid. Elfrid Payton finally busted through and got 10 points and 7 assists. Oladipo and Vucevic each got 33 points and the defense held it down again, keeping the Bulls to 6 fast break points and the Bulls having 14 team turnovers.
Kyle O’Quin came off the bench for 8 points on 3 of 4 shooting in the field, while Channing Frye started and went 2 for 10 and 5 points. It was a nice ending to that rough road trip and sure maybe the win should be attributed to the Bulls being dog tired, but keeping Derrick Rose to 18 points and 7 assists and Jimmy Butler to 17 points is a defensive coup they should take home with them.