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Vucevic and Fournier Have Strong Returns in Win Over Heat

2015 October 7
by Adam Papageorgiou
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Orlando Magic went to 1-1 in the young preseason camp thanks to an impressive 3-point winner by Shabazz Napier with three and a half seconds to go in the contest. The Magic prevailed on Wednesday, 100-97, defeating the Miami Heat at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Give the third-string Magic lineup credit for a nice comeback win in the final minutes against our sunshine state rivals.

Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic led the team off the bench as both were recovering from injuries that kept them out of the first preseason contest. The Frenchman notched 18 points, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 24 minutes of action. Evan for large chunks of the fourth period was the only man in blue and white pinstripes scoring the rock. The Montenegrin center tallied 17 points and 8 rebounds in 23 minutes. Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo were the only starters for Scott Skiles to score in double figures, each with 13 points. Mario Hezonja poured 8 points from the pine.

Orlando shot 46.1 FG% and a much-needed 10-of-27 from deep. They were an efficient 20-for-24 from the free throw line, but their Southeast division foes were 29-of-38 from the charity stripe. Free throws are worrying me again. Miami won the glass, 39-30. However, Orlando forced Miami into 22 turnovers and shared the ball well by tallying 27 assists on 35 made field goals. Skiles will be lukewarm about allowing Miami to shoot 44.1 FG%.


Below is the game recap.

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The 2015 Orlando Magic Scavenger Hunt Takes Place October 24th

2015 October 5
by Adam Papageorgiou


It’s back, baby! The 2015 Orlando Magic Scavenger Hunt will look to entertain folks that wish to participate in the activities that will occur around downtown. Occurring Saturday October 24th from 9 a.m. to Noon EST, click here to register your team no later than October 20th. The organization is limiting the sign-ups to 500 total participants, so sign up fast. 2 to 4 people per team. I would hope you come up with Magic-related team names, past or present. The organization says registration begins at 9 a.m. EST, but the actual scavenger hunt goes from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. EST. Just show up early.

You guys know how scavenger hunts work, right? Teams receive a list of riddles leading to locations in downtown Orlando. At these locations, teams must complete tasks by using a smartphone to take photos, answer questions, or scan QR codes. You’ll have to download and use the ‘Scavify’ app for this day.

If anyone on your team is under 18 years old, one member of your team must be that team member’s parent or guardian. As a standard with this event, there are waivers that will be provided after you register. I always advise folks that do this to have your running gear on. You have to be on foot the entire team. No cheating with cars or bikes. You can’t split apart from your teammate(s) either.

It’s a free scavenger hunt, but plenty of prizes are at stake for fans.


  • Four courtside tickets to Opening Night, October 28th vs. the Washington Wizards
  • Access to the Fields Ultimate Lounge with complimentary food and drinks
  • On-court photo post-game
  • Parking for one car in GEICO Garage

In order to win the Grand Prize, a team must be the first to return to Amway Center having completed all required challenges plus two of the bonus challenges.

In the event of a tie, the winning team will be determined by a tie-breaker trivia question, with the first team to correctly answer the tie-breaker question being the winner of the contest.

The Scavenger Hunt will end once all prizes are awarded or at 12 p.m. EST, whichever comes earlier. All teams will receive a message once the Scavenger Hunt is over.

Even if you don’t win, there are two other huge prizes for second and third place even though the rewards are named ‘first’ and ‘second’.


  • After Grand Prize winner is determined, First & Second Place teams win four Ultimate Seat Tickets for Opening Night.
  • The next 250 participants to finish by noon will receive a ticket to Opening Night


Even if you don’t finish top-3, that’s okay. Each participant will receive a t-shirt on the day of the hunt. Register by October 12th to guarantee your t-shirt size. And as you see above, once you get past the best 3 teams, the next 250 folks that finish before 12 p.m. EST will get a ticket for October 28th.

Saturday October 24th is lining up to be a very fun Magic-related day. Start the morning off with the scavenger hunt. Then that night you can go drinking at the Magic-themed pub crawl. There’s also multiple opportunities at tickets to see the Magic open the regular season by hosting the Washington Wizards on October 28th.


Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek


***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

Magic Squad Entertains Fans at Free Open Practice

2015 October 5


The Orlando Magic held their free open practice inside Amway Center on Monday night. It was mostly 5-on-5 scrimmage work as Scott Skiles said he didn’t want to ‘bore’ the fans who showed up with drills. We can only estimate on the amount of folks who showed up, but my guess is there were about 2,500 spectators. It probably would have been more had I-4 accidents not made life even worse for daily commuters.

Scott Skiles began with a quick introduction before he let his assistant coaches handle much of the instruction work. The roster was split up into two teams: Black and White. Monte Mathis was the main coach for ‘Black’, while Adrian Griffin handled the ‘White’ squad. Both were mic’d up and you could hear sideline instructions being given at times. Four 8-minute periods were to be played with a mostly-running clock. Erie BayHawks – NBDL affiliate of the Magic – Head Coach Bill Peterson was one of the three officials. Black won 45-39, for anyone that cares about the final result.


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WATCH: Hornets-Magic Preseason Postgame Interviews

2015 October 3
AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.

Preseason or not, Scott Skiles is very unhappy with how his Orlando Magic team performed in the third quarter. 37 points coughed up to an opponent won’t be tolerated, and all of those guys in the locker room knew about it following the loss. If you decide to take a mental sabbatical during a play or two, Skiles isn’t going to hesitate to yank you.

On the bright side, it’s nice to see Andrew Nicholson looking great again. He’s looking for a new contract in the summer…unless the Magic decide to extend him before the regular season. If Andrew keeps putting up 20+ points off the bench, it’ll be tough not to be tempted to lock him up. I think Mario Hezonja played great. Skiles and the staff may not have been pleased with his defense, but I didn’t think he got beat as bad as their eyes saw it. He’ll be fine.

Tobias Harris: “I think that we have to know that you can’t make a mistake over and over again and there’s no consequence for it. We didn’t start the third quarter well and coach took us out, and he basically told us if you’re not going to play and you’re not going to have the energy right away that you’re not going to help our team. That was what his point was and in the third quarter we gave up 37 points and that’s unacceptable, especially if you want to be a winning team.”


Scott Skiles:


Mario Hezonja:


Andrew Nicholson:


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Hezonja Debuts and Nicholson Scores 23 Points in Magic Loss

2015 October 3
by Adam Papageorgiou
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Despite what the final score may indicate, the Orlando Magic looked overall much improved in Scott Skiles‘ preseason debut as Head Coach from years past. The Magic fell 106-100 to the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, as Orlando got off to a rocky 3rd quarter start – tell me if you’ve heard this before – and coughed up a 37-point period to their Southeast division opponent. A good effort in the 4th from the bench wasn’t enough to complete a comeback. I won’t let a bad third period in an exhibition contest erase a strong first 24 minutes of action.

The game wasn’t televised, but the Amway Center crowd got to witness Skiles display some of his discipline in that third period. He benched his starters and rewarded some of the hard-fighting bench guys with playing time even against Charlotte starters.

Orlando Magic #5 Draft pick Mario Hezonja came off the bench and tallied an efficient 9 points on 4-for-6 shooting. He got a highlight reel dunk and drained a 3-pointer, but Skiles limited the Croatian to just 10 minutes of action because he thought Mario’s defense wasn’t satisfactory. He’ll learn.

Andrew Nicholson carried over a decent summer with Team Canada and led all scorers with an outstanding 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists on 9-for-14 shooting (2-of-3 on 3s). ‘Drew got back to what he was dominant at his rookie season, posting up everyone. Victor Oladipo added 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting while Jason Smith was the only other Magic man to hit double figures with 10 points.

The Magic won the hustle battle, but Charlotte prevailed by draining more free throws and 3-pointers. Charlotte was 12-of-31 from deep while Orlando only managed 6-for-26 on triples. The big issue wasn’t Orlando’s 16-of-19 from the free throw line. Even though that was low, they let Charlotte shoot 26-of-35 from the charity stripe. That won’t get it done. Still, I’m encouraged by a very nice first half and am confident that the Magic will buck their past habit of having lapses in consistency.


Below is the game recap.

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WATCH: Magic Shootaround Interviews on Verge of Preseason Opener

2015 October 3


The Orlando Magic ended up getting the majority of their shootaround work in Saturday morning on the Amway Center parquet floor, instead of on the practice court. They’ll host the Charlotte Hornets later on tonight to begin their 8-game preseason campaign. Scott Skiles said that Shabazz Napier is a game-time decision with a sore back. The point guard hurt himself in Friday’s practice, but did participate in Saturday’s shootaround.

As previously stated, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Nikola Vucevic are all unavailable. Vooch talked more about his strained shoulder as well as rookie Mario Hezonja who makes his Amway Center main court debut. Skiles may utilize all of his 15-16 healthy bodies tonight. Nik misses Kyle O’Quinn‘s humor. We all do. Napier definitely looks like a guy who has a chip on his shoulder with a lot to prove. Skiles discussed some defensive details.

Basketball is ready to begin again in O-Town.

Scott Skiles:


Nikola Vucevic:


Shabazz Napier:


Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek


***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

Minor Injuries Add Intrigue as Orlando’s Preseason Action Begins

2015 October 2
by Adam Papageorgiou
AP Photo/John Raoux

AP Photo/John Raoux

They’ve been hard at work together for a week now, but since the start of training camp the Orlando Magic have known that Evan Fournier (sprained ankle from EuroBasket) and Aaron Gordon (jaw surgery recovery) are not expected to see game action until mid-October. With the Magic’s first preseason game occurring Saturday October 3rd, we can add Nikola Vucevic to the injury list. Orlando’s starting center has a strained shoulder, and he’ll miss the home contest at Amway Center against the Charlotte Hornets.

The Montenegrin’s injury isn’t a major worry, but with Gordon – who I believe should be a starter – being out also, Scott Skiles has a lot of thinking to do with what he wants to do with his frontcourt in the short term. Tobias Harris will obviously be one of the starting forwards. There’s another forward spot and a center position that honestly could go to numerous players.

Injuries suck, but Vooch, Fournier, and AG – three guys we know are big minute contributors – being absent means a sort of good ‘test’ problem has kind of presented itself: Which of the more unknown guys deserve minutes, and which players do not?

Dewayne Dedmon, Melvin Ejim, Channing Frye, Andrew Nicholson, Jason Smith, Greg Stiemsma, Mario Hezonja, Devyn Marble, and even Nnanna Egwu all could potentially get a ton of minutes early on in the exhibition schedule.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Skiles starts Dedmon and Frye along side Tobias against the Hornets. Barring injuries, we know Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton are set in stone as the backcourt duo. Dedmon to me is by far the second-best center on the roster behind Vooch. Dewayne can also experiment with his extended offensive range while at the same time proving to Skiles he can basically be a 2012-2013 Larry Sanders defensively.

Frye should get the nod at PF whether he’s trade bait or not. Channing may have shot decently from 3-point range last season, but that ’14-’15 campaign was painful. He got hurt in last year’s training camp, and he never fully recovered. The 32-year-old is already not the most mobile big man in the world, so having a bad leg was a large burden. There were good spurts, but Frye was awful at defending and rebounding.

If Channing’s bad at those two things again, he might become an $8 million per season paperweight on Skiles’ desk. But Frye’s looked at least respectable defensively this week. Adding in his confident shooting, Skiles has a reason to give Frye plenty of court action to try and experiment with lineup combinations.

I want to see 2 foursomes get a lot of action on Saturday:




Mario, Evan, and C.J. Watson are going to be fantastic off the bench together. But it’s exhibition play, throw the Croatian kid into the deep end of the pool. Let him deal with a starting NBA defense. Hezonja won’t be scared. He’ll be anxious for sure though. The 20-year-old speaks fluent English, but he still has to get used to ‘coach speak’ and on-court NBA communicating. He’s a sharp kid, but there’s still an adjustment period. Don’t freak out if he shoots thirty or even twenty percent in these exhibition games. Time is on his side.

I have no doubt that Ejim makes the Magic’s final regular season roster. I thought he had signed in Germany following his great Summer League, but the Orlando staff swooped in and got the 24-year-old following a fantastic showing for Team Canada at the Pan Am Games. The Magic guaranteed him some training camp money and offered him a non-guaranteed deal similar to Devyn Marble. Melvin had a great FIBA Americas Championship campaign and now it seems he’s been impressing Skiles’ staff.

Ejim might have a bigger role than most folks think. He can play both SF and PF. His knack for rebounding can’t be taught. Fantastic defender and his offensive game is fair. Most importantly, Ejim finds a way to get to the free throw line. The Magic need more of that.

Keith Appling, Jordan Sibert, and Egwu seem like obvious candidates to be sent to the Erie BayHawks and get molded by coach Bill Peterson once the October ‘cutting’ occurs. But unlike with Peyton Siva, Seth Curry, Kadeem Batts, and Drew Crawford last season, these current training camp guys may actually see the floor in Magic jerseys this month.

Appling in many ways is a better player than Shabazz Napier. Keith had a fantastic Summer League. Egwu is raw and has bad hands, but that guy can swat a lot of shots. Plus, youth is on his side. Sibert is a potential future sharpshooter in the Association and I think GM Rob Hennigan should do all he can to make sure he ends up in Erie for a year.

This is going to be my 4th season covering the Magic as a member of the media. This is by far the most optimistic I’ve been with this team’s future since 2010-2011. Going from 25 wins and jumping into the playoffs is a massive challenge, but I think this squad can do it. Not sure about an over .500 record, but let’s be in the playoff hunt past the All-Star Break for a change.

Ten returning guys. Nine new additions. They’ve bought into Skiles’ style of teaching and I just think the guys who have been with the Magic for multiple years are just plain tired of being irrelevant. Those at the game on Saturday will get glimpse at the new Magic. Unfortunately, this contest won’t be broadcast on local television. So get those illegal streams ready.


Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek


***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

Magic to Host Downtown Orlando Pub Crawl on Saturday October 24th

2015 October 2
by Adam Papageorgiou


Get your nighttime drinking hats ready, Orlando Magic fans, the franchise you love is going to prepare you for the start of the 2015-2016 regular season by serving you alcohol in pub crawl fashion on Saturday October 24th from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Obviously, you must be 21 years of age or older to attend the event. To tip the NBA campaign, head to downtown Orlando for this special event that will have the Magic Dancers and Stuff the Magic mascot. Tickets can be purchased online here for $20 (and a service charge fee). Otherwise, it’s $25 at the ‘door’ the night of the event.

Your ticket includes four complimentary drinks and one ticket to Opening Night when the Magic match up against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday October 28th. Even if you’re in the nosebleeds, that’s fantastic value.

Bud Light or Call Vodka Cocktails or El Jimador shots are your drink choices according to the event posting. If 4 free drinks isn’t enough for you, you can buy $2 Bud Light, $3 Call Vodka, and $3 El Jimador shots as well.

As a pub crawl, you obviously have to go to places which adds to the fun. Here’s your event schedule times and venues.

8pm – Ferg’s Depot
9:15pm – Ember
10:30pm – The Patio/Olde 64
11:45pm – Hooch on Wall Street

Church Street, Central, Washington, and Wall Street. It’s a good warm-up to your Halloween ventures that I’m sure you’ll all partake in the following week back in downtown.

Saturday October 24th is a nice date to have this as it follows the Friday October 23rd home preseason finale against the Memphis Grizzlies, and it’s before Sunday October 25th when the Citrus Bowl host the U.S. Women’s National Team in their victory tour friendly against Brazil. The Solar Bears hockey team does host the Norfolk Admirals though at 7 p.m. EST that Saturday the 24th.

Since this is a pub crawl, I would highly recommend wearing Magic blue, white, and silver gear. This event is hosted by the Orlando Magic, Orlando Sport and Social Club, and Orlando Pub Crawl. If it’s anything like Orlando City Soccer Club’s pub crawl back in March, you’re not going to want to miss it. Just don’t harass Stuff or the cheerleaders while you’re in a drunken stupor. That wouldn’t look too good.


Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

VenueNext and Magic Partner to Enhance Amway Center Fan Experience

2015 September 28
by Adam Papageorgiou


VenueNext and the Orlando Magic announced on Monday an agreement to implement the VenueNext technology platform at Amway Center beginning in the upcoming 2015-2016 regular season. This is an enormous deal in my eyes, and something no NBA franchise offers. Not yet anyway. But then again, the Magic have been ahead in matters such as utilizing Apple Pay and FanDuel in growing its business. This VenueNext partnership is more important.

Magic fans attending games at Amway Center will see a brand new version of the Magic’s mobile app that seamlessly surfaces services including mobile tickets, loyalty services, the ability to order food, drinks, and merchandise (ex. jerseys) as well as in-seat delivery or express pick up, and access systems for parking and games/events.

“The Orlando Magic are one of the most innovative, forward-thinking and fan-focused in the NBA,” said VenueNext CEO & Founder John Paul. “We’re excited to collaborate with this team, not only to improve the fan experience, but also to bring new insights to the Magic about the fans attending the technology enhanced Amway Center.”


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WATCH: Day 1 Magic Training Camp Scrimmages, Drills, and Sprints

2015 September 26
by Adam Papageorgiou


It was fun to see some actual Orlando Magic scrimmaging on Day 1 of training camp. Scott Skiles in their morning session split up his 17 players – remember Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier can’t scrimmage right now – into three teams: red, white, and black. The Amway Center practice court was very active on Saturday.

For ‘red’, it looked like they had Mario Hezonja, Melvin Ejim, Jason Smith, Dewayne Dedmon, Shabazz Napier, Victor Oladipo, and Nnanna Egwu.

‘White’ had Tobias Harris, C.J. Watson, Greg Stiemsma, Keith Appling, and Andrew Nicholson.

And ‘black’ had Elfrid Payton, Nikola Vucevic, Devyn Marble, Jordan Sibert, and Channing Frye.

As you can see in the video footage, Skiles and the staff were not afraid to pull guys from the scrimmage that made errors. They also subtracted points for defensive errors.

You actually just miss it at the beginning the first clip, but Dewayne Dedmon buried a confident jumper. Jason Smith also drains a jump shot. C.J. Watson got white on the board with a 3-point swish. Dedmon ends up finishing a tough take at the rim as Nicholson slaps his wrist. Red took that scrimmage.

Vucevic begins the black v. white matchup with a turnaround make over Stiemsma. Watson ends up finding Stiemsma for a dunk on the other end with a respectable dribble and dump down. The best hustle play may have been Vooch sprinting down the other way after the Stiemsma dunk and giving Elfrid a wide open fast break passing lane to dish it to Nik for the transition finish. Frye would drain a dagger 3-pointer to give black the game. A lot of competitive spirit on display.

The third quick scrimmage was red versus black. Oladipo opened up the scoring for red with a silky 3-pointer. Sibert would drain a triple for black on the near side. Frye ended up blocking a Napier drive without lifting off the ground. Remember, these guys were well over 2 hours into their practice. Ejim is going to be fun to watch. That guy just ends up getting so many rebounds. Vooch would feed Frye out of the post for yet another 3-pointer as black prevailed.

So to finish off the practice following the scrimmages, Skiles has his squad pick 4 guys to convert a dunk, make a bunny shot, drain a free throw, and finish it off with a 3-point make. If one player screwed up, the entire squad had to sprint up the court and back again. It ended up being more torturous than the team could have anticipated as guys like Shabazz Napier and Devyn Marble had problems with the bunny jumper/floater.

At the 2-minute mark you can hear Coach Skiles offer the players a deal. To finish up early if he missed a left-handed free throw. They turned him down. You can hear some swearing from some of the guys as the clip progresses. It’s healthy emotion though.

The ‘winning’ combination that finally ended the 5+ minutes of pain following a two and a half hour-long first morning scrimmage/drill work was Melvin Ejim, Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, and a very thrilled Channing Frye.


Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek


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