Magic Out-Pace Indiana
Coming into their fifth preseason outing of the 2012-2013 campaign, the Magic had actually dropped 8 straight games. Don’t forget ex-Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy’s squad losing 4 straight to the Pacers last season in Orlando’s 4-1 Indy first round boot from the playoffs. Frank Vogel’s squad looked a little different tonight at Amway Center than what we saw a few months ago. No more Darren Collison on the roster and Indy’s best player Danny Granger getting a rest. No George Hill either. Still though, a starting five of DJ Augustin, Paul George, Gerald Green, David West, Roy Hibbert is quite formidable. Magic Head Coach Jacque Vaughn started Jameer Nelson, JJ Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, Josh McRoberts, and Glen Davis. First time all preseason that Jacque didn’t have Nikola Vucevic or Gustavo Ayon starting. It’s especially perplexing considering we saw enough of Big Baby battling Hibbert in the postseason. Josh McRoberts played for the Pacers franchise from 2008 to 2011 and is an Indianapolis native. So that was Vaughn both testing Josh’s worth and giving him a chance to show up his old team.
Jacque Vaughn after his first win: “We were committed to sharing the basketball, and that was fun to watch.”
Powered entirely by the veteran fire power of Jameer, Redick, and Hedo, Orlando began the contest 13-4 as a frustrated Frank Vogel couldn’t get any production except from his 7’2” center in the first three minutes. From there Indiana decided to play some basketball as Vucevic got to compete with Hibbert and Big Baby matched up with David West. Like you’d expect with any center playing against Roy, Vucevic had trouble keeping Hibbert from scoring in the paint. In the first 7 minutes, Hibbert poured in a comfortable 10 points, the majority against Nik. Then at the 3:24 mark of the 1st quarter we saw Vaughn throw out a completely unique Jameer-E’Twaun-DeQuan-Ayon-Vucevic lineup for two and a half minutes. Coaching staff still experimenting as then the two Duke men, McRoberts-Redick, played on the parquet together. Orlando was up 25-19 after the first 12 minutes. Aside from Hibbert’s 10 points, the Magic did a superb job of shutting the other Pacers down. Paul George was a putrid 0-for-6 from the field. Redick cherished his starting SG opportunity and didn’t miss a shot, scoring 10 points. Arron Afflalo may be sprinting back to action if Redick keeps this up.
The second quarter began quite shaky for Orlando. Energized by Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Pendergraph, the Pacers snatched the lead within three and a half minutes and made a statement with an 8-0 run. Josh McRoberts was not able to defend either Indy big. It won’t be often you’ll see Glen Davis not hustle back on defense, but yet get rewarded by cherry picking a lay-up. Big Baby finished the first half leading all players with 14 points. Gerald Green and Sam Young are going to be phenomenal bench additions for Indiana, especially if they can drill their fair share of jumpers. We already know they’re athletic freaks. Orlando would retake the lead 38-35 just past the midway point in the second period, fueled by a 9-0 run as Jameer and Baby took up the offensive slack. The run would reach 16-4 due in large part to Hedo and E’Twaun. The Magic led 49-41 at halftime as they accumulated 12 assists on 19-of 38 field goal shooting. Four of those assists belonged to Hedo, and 5 to Redick. Share the ball that well and 50% from the field in a half will be more common than anyone may have initially expected heading into training camp.
McRoberts finally proved a little useful as the Magic offense was able to feed the spry forward for a few easy buckets early in the third period. The Pacers would reel Orlando back in until Glen Davis took over with 7 points and Orlando found themselves on another lengthy 10-0 run. Next thing you know it’s 72-57 with 3 minutes left in the 3rd period. DeQuan Jones got a few blocks and an explosive dunk as he was more than a handful for Paul George. Orlando has a tall and versatile wing now too. Well, as long as Rob Hennigan can create room to sign DeQuan permanently. Jones’ defense finally showed up as he swatted 3 Pacers shots in the third quarter. You could also see Hansbrough try and go into Psycho T mode on Vucevic. Nikola didn’t bite. Andrew Nicholson finally entered the contest at around the 4-minute mark and got to show off his postgame once more. Jameer annihilated Augustin and then Lance Stephenson on both ends of the court. It was 82-65 for Orlando heading into the final twelve-minute session.
Once Andrew Nicholson opened up the final period with an offensive rebound and putback, you knew this 4th quarter would be different from the previous ones. Nicholson put on a post-up and jump shot clinic. Keep it up, rookie. 11 points in eight minutes is hopefully a preview of the future. Former Magic rookie now sophomore Justin Harper appears to be a lost cause at this point. It wasn’t as noticeable as it was in Detroit, but Harper gives up so many more points on defense than he scores. No way Vaughn rewards Justin with minutes. I doubt Harper makes the roster. Orlando was up 88-69 when the Richmond Spider product checked in. At around the 8-minute mark, Pacers coach Frank Vogel dug very deep in his bench. Orlando’s lead would hang around a dozen points. The other Orlando rookie Kyle O’Quinn came in at the 6-minute mark and immediately dumped a dish over to Moore for two. E’Twaun looked more effective as a shooting guard next to Jameer than he did at the point as you’d expect. You could tell though that Moore and DeQuan were tired of continuing their trend of ruining three great quarters of play and were determined to shut the door on Indiana. You know it’s a Magic blowout when you have 3 Johnsons on the court at the same time: Orlando, Armon, and Chris. The cheerful Amway Center crowd was rewarded with a 112-96 Orlando Magic victory. It’s a beautiful box score. 54.9 FG% is fabulous and will give a fantastic chance to win any game. So will 30 assists on your forty-five made field goals. Preseason or not, congratulations to Jacque Vaughn on his first Magic win as Head Coach. Orlando is now 1-4 in this exhibition campaign.
A winning attitude can’t be fully accepted and acquired unless you actually earn victories. The first foundation block has been put in place. So many positives out of tonight from the veterans continuing to look inspired to guys like Moore and Jones learning from past defeats. I feel like Hedo Turkoglu is going to have a few chances at some triple-doubles this season. He’s had multiple preseason games now where he’ll begin a game and have 4-5 assists in a first quarter, and then he just levels off. Hedo did get hindered with some back spasms (not deemed serious), but Turk played a very positive 23 minutes tonight. The rebounds will come, and we know ‘Turkey Dance’ can cruise to a dozen points. Oh man does Jameer love abusing Augustin. Nelson for years seems to savor the fact that DJ is tinier than him. Orlando gets to rest for a day before hosting the San Antonio Spurs. Will former Spurs assistant coach Jacque Vaughn be the starting Magic point guard on Sunday?
Adam Papageorgiou writes for Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.