Orlando Magic Win Another Blowout – Is This Real?
It turns out opening night wasn’t a mirage after all. After trailing by as many as 14 points early in the 3rd quarter, the Orlando Magic offense erupted as the team defeated the Phoenix Suns by a score of 115-94. The Suns led 68-54 at the 8 minute mark of the 3rd quarter before the Magic went on a ridiculous 32-8 run to finish out a FORTY point 3rd quarter.
Despite their two most veteran players sidelined (Jameer Nelson w/hamstring strain and Hedo Turkoglu w/fractured hand), Orlando was still able to spread the ball and the scoring load among their remaining healthy players. J.J. Redick led the team in scoring on hte night with 24 points and Arron Afflalo and Big Baby Davis each had 22. Overall the team had 5 players score at least 15 points.
The 3rd quarter turnaround was keyed by Big Baby’s offensive energy and much improved defensive effort by Orlando. In the first quarter, Phoenix scored 33 points and 20 of those points came around the basket. Coming out in the second half, the Magic and Coach Jacque Vaughn made some adjustments to try and slow the dribble penetration and a key move of switching Nik Vucevic onto Luis Scola who was dominating Big Baby in the paint.
Vucevic had a rather pedestrian first half before exploding with the rest of the team in the 2nd half. Nik finished the night with a career high tying 18 points while also grabbing 13 rebounds. But it was his ability to be “big” as Coach Vaughn put it that was his biggest moment of the night.
“The glaring point tonight was how ‘big’ he is.” Vaughn on Vucevic, “The points, the screens, all that he is going to do. The ability to be big for us and be a defensive stopper, boy that was fun to see tonight.”
The Magic could have easily folded tonight. Missing two important cogs in Nelson and Turkoglu, starting a late 2nd round pick in E’Twaun Moore and an undrafted rookie in DeQuan Jones in their places, Orlando really had no business mounting the comeback that they did. The scrappy group of cast offs continued to show the heart and will to fight through adversity and to show that this will be an entertaining team to watch throughout the year no matter what the win-loss record ends at.
“Tonight was a character test for us. I think we showed a lot of character in the 2nd half. That game could have easily turned into a 10,a 14, a 20 point game. But the men in that locker room showed a lot to me tonight and I told them that I was extremely proud.” – Coach Jacque Vaughn on the victory
The Magic are just two games into a long, long season in which getting to “mediocre” was a goal deemed unattainable by most. They certainly have shown the ability to surpass the dreadful expectations set for them externally, but how long will they be able to continue riding the positivity train that fuels them internally? All we know for sure is that it should be a fun ride.