The Orlando Magic began the 2013-14 NBA preseason with a narrow 99-95 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Magic looked good for what was its first preseason game, going up against a Pelicans squad that had already played two preseason games prior to tonight’s game. Both teams showcased two different strategies throughout the game.
Pelicans head coach Monty Williams utilized a more regular season-like rotation and gave Anthony Davis more than 30 minutes. In contrast, Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn did not allow any of his players to play 30 minutes, with the closest player being center Kyle O’Quinn, who played 28 minutes for the Magic. Vaughn’s substitution pattern consisted of rotating players on-and-off the court every five minutes in five man groups.
The Magic starters were Jameer Nelson, Aaron Afflalo, Maurice Harkless, Kyle O’Quinn and Nikola Vucevic, with Tobias Harris coming off the bench. The starters struggled to begin the game, but the Magic received a huge boost in energy from the bench with the injection of rookie Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson and Jason Maxiell.
Oladipo was all over the court for the Orlando Magic and did his part by stuffing the stat sheet. The No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA draft set the tone with two assists in less than one minute. Most importantly, Oladipo showed solid ball-handling and managed to only turn the ball over two times. Oladipo finished the game with 10 points, nine assists, five rebounds and four steals.
The other standout for the Orlando Magic was Harris who came off the bench for the Orlando Magic and scored 17 points in only 24 minutes of action.
Vaughn’s strategy of constantly switching out players in five man groups resulted in the Magic being unable to find much consistency on offense and only shot 38.6 percent from the field.
Unfortunately for the Orlando Magic, the interior defense was defenseless against New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis. Davis scored 29 points and snagged nine rebounds for the Pelicans.
With the Magic’s next game coming on Friday, it will be interesting to see how Vaughn tinkers with the lineup. Doron Lamb, Manny Harris, Ronnie Price, Mickell Gladness, Solomon Jones and Kris Joseph did not play on Wednesday.
Of those players who did not play on Wednesday, both Lamb and Joseph could be poised to receive extended looks on Friday. Joseph may be the player to watch due to the Magic’s struggles when neither Harris nor Harkless can play small forward. While Joseph is not a prolific defensive player, he can put the ball in the basket, which is a skill set the Magic are looking for off the bench.
The only other player that played at small forward was rookie 2nd round pick Romero Osby. Osby played the least amount of minutes for the Magic and only had three points and four rebounds to show for his efforts. At 6’8″ 249 pounds, Osby simply doesn’t have the lateral quickness to guard small forwards at the NBA level.
The Orlando Magic will host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday in what will be the Magic’s home opener. Coverage of the game can be heard on the radio at ESPN 580 Orlando or on NBA TV beginning at 7 p.m.