Orlando Magic fans should be outraged that Aaron Gordon just had the greatest NBA All-Star dunk competition showing of all-time, and lost. A bad judging panel screwed him over. Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves claimed back-to-back dunk titles, but #00 in his blue and white pinstriped jersey may have the more lasting images.
I’m just going to throw down some clips of the greatness that was witnessed on the night of February 13, 2016. Then we’ll break it down. What Aaron did surpasses anything Dwight Howard ever did in a dunk contest, even when he won the trophy in 2008. AG dropped so many jaws and opened millions of eyes extra wide.
Orlando Magic fans that tuned in to Friday night’s NBA All-Star Rising Stars Challenge were treated to rookie wing Mario Hezonja posting highlights galore. The 20-year-old had a lot of fun, but Team World lost to Team USA 157-154 in what was a thrilling exhibition in Toronto, Canada.
Zach LaVine may have won MVP with his 30 points, but Mario Hezonja’s stat line of 19 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals in 23 minutes made a lasting impression in a contest that obviously means nothing. The Croatian sensation was in the MVP discussion. He was robbed of a triple-double as a few World teammates squandered some easy bucket opportunities set up by Super Mario.
Sophomore point guard Elfrid Payton was on the winning squad, but he didn’t score in 16 minutes of action as Payton shot 0-for-2 and only had a rebound and a steal. No assists.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) February 13, 2016
Below is the game recap.
There is a song dedicated to Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo that has been circulating the internet of late. It’s called ‘Oladipo’. It comes from Mouce, a native of Orlando. Obviously, he’s a fan of the franchise as well. I actually heard this song a few months ago, but there’s a music video that accompanies it now.
Probably the worst way to go into an All-Star Break. For the next week, this loss will not sit well with a large chunk of this Orlando Magic roster. It’s interesting hearing Scott Skiles, Evan Fournier, and Elfrid Payton break down how the final kind of went down. Three different perspectives of a play that caught the San Antonio Spurs napping, and very well should have sent the contest to overtime.
The Orlando Magic let another game slip from their grasp on Wednesday night, falling to the San Antonio Spurs 98-96. Kawhi Leonard drilled a tough game-winning shot over some solid Aaron Gordon defense with 0.9 on the clock. Evan Fournier would heave a miraculous fullcourt pass that would bounce and eventually land in Elfrid Payton‘s hands. Elfrid had to release the ball quickly, and his reverse lay-up attempt did not drop. Add this game to Orlando’s list of contests they should have won, but didn’t due to poor late-game execution.
Orlando held a 14-point lead early in the final period, but inbound turnovers, isolation hero ball, and the Spurs making some solid shots – without Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and only 18 minutes of Tim Duncan – were what doomed Orlando. Scott Skiles‘ team moved the ball so well for about 40 minutes, but those final eight saw the squad tighten up. Spurs won the 4th period 31-17.
The Spurs were led by Kawhi Leonard’s 29 points. LaMarcus Aldridge contributed 21 points, while Patty Mills added a massive 17 points off the bench. Orlando held them to 42.7 FG%, but only mustered 40.7 FG% for themselves. Orlando shot an awful 7-for-21 from the field in the fourth though.
Evan Fournier led the Magic with 28 points, including a clutch 3 to tie the game at 96-96 with 13.3 seconds remaining. Nikola Vucevic contributed 20 points and 13 rebounds. Victor Oladipo added 14 points, and Elfrid Payton had 13 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. Mario Hezonja scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 14 minutes.
Below is the game recap.
The February 18th trade deadline is fast approaching and the Orlando Magic are in a position in the standings where they will miss the playoffs if they don’t make some kind of deal.
No fan or member of the media views the Magic and its pieces in the same light. When I look at the 14-man Magic roster and its contracts, I break the squad down into three parts: Tradeable, Open to Dealing, and Untouchable
‘Tradeable’ guys are players that I think the team should deal, obviously. They could be carrying a bad contract. A bad attitude or team fit. A long-term health concern. An expiring contract. They could have such a tiny role on the team that the squad wouldn’t miss them if they were dealt. Or a combination of those factors.
‘Open to Dealing’, also rather self-explanatory. These are players I like, but I wouldn’t be absolutely angry if the Magic included them in a package to get a transaction to occur.
Believe it or not, I have Magic players in the ‘Untouchable’ category. These are guys that I’m only considering of trading if it nets the Magic All-Star level type talent(s).
I’d like to point out too that I was originally going to post this a few days ago before the Super Bowl Sunday matchup against Atlanta. Then I decided to delay because Tobias Harris sat out. Well the Magic are 2-0 in two days without the man that’s making the largest salary on the team. The reason I’m posting this a game prior to the All-Star Break is due to all of the rumored whispers that are occurring.
As of February 9, 2016, below is how I categorize the current Magic roster, and then we’ll get into some trade scenarios I put together for the Magic to possibly seek within the next week.
Despite trailing by 20 points in the first quarter and being down by 18 points in the second half, the Orlando Magic found a way. The men in black took down the Hawks in Atlanta 117-110 in overtime on Monday night. Two enormous wins over the same squad in 34 hours. Orlando tallied a season-high 37 assists on their 46 made field goals. Orlando had not record 37 assists in a game since March 29, 1996 in Toronto. That’s unbelievable.
Nikola Vucevic led the way with a season-tying 28 points to go with 13 rebounds and 6 assists. That coming after the Montenegrin only had 3 points at halftime. Vooch won his duel over Al Horford who notched 27 points. Elfrid Payton is definitely looking like the point guard we expect, tallying 20 points, 7 assists, and 3 steals. Evan Fournier contributed 16 points. Jason Smith added 14 points.
The big story other than Nik though was Mario Hezonja entering clutch mode. 14 points and a career-high 9 rebounds for the Croatian sensation. Mario was a game-best +20 on the floor. Aaron Gordon added another solid double-double with his 12 points and 10 boards. Paul Millsap had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Jeff Teague contributed 21 points in defeat. Orlando shot 49.5 FG% while Atlanta shot 46.7 FG%. Atlanta’s 12-of-29 3-point shooting seems great, but they were held to 1-of-8 shooting from deep to conclude the contest as Orlando’s defense showed up when it was badly needed.
Not only did the Magic conclude their season series with Atlanta at 2-2 with these two victories over the Hawks, Orlando improves to 2-5 in overtimes and now own a 3-5 record against the Southeast division. The last time Orlando beat a team twice in two days? January 28th and 29th of 2005 against the Wizards.
Below is the game recap.
There’s nothing like a game-winner to make you forget the past. At least for one day. That’s what Nikola Vucevic gifted his Orlando Magic teammates with by draining that glorious shot.
We can focus on how bad Orlando was yet again down the stretch of that game, but for now just savor an awesome moment for a bunch of players and coaches that absolutely needed this result.
The Orlando Magic were so close to choking away another contest on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon. Oh so close. Orlando was up 94-86 with 3:27 to go in the contest. They wouldn’t score another point until Nikola Vucevic saved the day with his second turnaround jump shot game-winner of the season right in Al Horford’s grill to give the home side a desperately-needed 96-94 victory.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) February 7, 2016
Vucevic finished with 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals. The Magic played so well the first 40 or so minutes too that they really did earn that game-winner from Vooch. Questionable officiating and similar ball-sticking late was what helped Atlanta come back. The 1 p.m. EST start time suited the pinstriped patrol well as they jumped on the Hawks early and often, leading 30-19 after one quarter. A lot of that has to do with Evan Fournier starting with Tobias Harris out. The Frenchman scored 21 points.
The Hawks were held to 38.5 FG%, but their 13-of-28 3-point shooting, including six makes in the fourth led the charge back for them. They got 24 points out of Jeff Teague and 23 from Kent Bazemore. Aaron Gordon finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and a career-tying 4 blocks as he was magnificent in holding Paul Millsap to 5-of-14 shooting. Vooch did a wonderful job holding Al Horford to 5-of-15 shooting. Victor Oladipo tallied 19 points while Elfrid Payton had one of his best games in a while with 12 points and 12 assists.
Atlanta shot an awful 14-of-41 shooting. It offset their 18-8 offensive rebound advantage over the Magic. Orlando crushed it in the paint, winning that interior battled 42-28.
Below is the game recap.
In my 27 years of existence, I have never been as disappointed in an Orlando Magic roster as I am in this 2015-2016 group.
I was too young during the early years, but that was the honeymoon phase of the franchise and those 15,000 jam-packed O-Rena crowds were far from comatose. Then there were the mid-’90s extravagant years. Anfernee Hardaway kept the team enjoyable for the post-Shaq years. There were early playoff exits. Then Heart ‘N Hustle pleasantly surprised us. Tracy McGrady helped us avoid a depression that was Grant Hill‘s chronic injury issues. More playoff early exits.
I was at way too many of those 2003-2004 season contests, but that team sucked because McGrady was stubborn and hurt and the rest of the roster was just awful. T-MAC still whipped out thrilling performances (62-pointer being an obvious one). Then the Dwight Howard age comes.