Pistons win big; Magic forget how to play basketball
Let’s start with the good news:
- No one got hurt. Which is frankly amazing, since from my perspective there wasn’t a single ounce of preparation, care nor effort put into this game by a key number of Magic players.
- J.J. Redick is an absolute machine: sent back from the future to drill jumpers, pass his ass off, and cut to the basket with ease. His hustle and energy was phenomenal in just his 5th start of the year (1st since 11/19)
- Maurice Harkless, in limited minutes, pushed hard and was rewarded with a few second-chance points. Defense was very strong too, and it is great to see him continue to grow.
- Gustavo Ayon returned to action after a few weeks out with a thigh bruise, and played hard while also going 4/4 on FG in limited minutes.
Then the notables:
- This is the first time that both J.J. Redick and Afflalo have started together since 11/19
- J.J. went 9/10 for the game, including 5/6 from 3FG to finish with 26 points. It was J.J.’s second-highest scoring game of the year (29 on 1/7/13)
- Arron Afflao went a scoreless in 38 minutes of playing time, for the first time since 2/4/12
- Vucevic missed another double-double by a single rebound
- Jameer, Ish Smith, Redick and Afflalo shared the court in the 4th quarter, which is a very rare mix for the Magic. For a reason.
- Both Andre Drummond and Jason Maxiell went 11 and 11 tonight for double-doubles
And the bad news?…
The bad news was EVERYTHING ELSE. In particular:
- Arron Afflalo. I just don’t know what to make of this game. He didn’t even attempt a shot until the second quarter, and it looked like he was making a statement in not shooting. I’m not sure if this is something he is just fighting internally with low confidence, or if it is in response to the team/coaches, but it is unacceptable. I counted at least 7 open shots that he didn’t take, electing to dribble and pass instead. On defense, he didn’t have the sustained effort and energy that serves as his trademark, even if he had a few spurts. This is the most disappointing game of Afflalo’s career in a Magic uniform (all things considered) in my estimation.
Big Baby on JV not putting him back in: “That kinda messed with my confidence a little bit. I wish he would have kinda stuck with me.”
— MagicBBallOnline (@MagicBasketball) January 23, 2013
- Big Baby. Oh Glen. Here is the thing: you are allowed to shoot yourself out of a slump IF it means you are fighting through it. There was significant drops in effort for both Baby and Afflalo tonight, but on the defensive end it was Big Baby that was showing no intensity at all. That said, it was on the offensive end that Davis hurt the Magic with a 4-16 “performance”. There was a stretch of 4 possessions in the 1st half that all featured at least one missed shot by Big Baby, and it didn’t slow him down one bit.
- Jameer had a tough shooting night at 6/18 even though he started off the game with a couple pure 3’s in the early 1st quarter, and lost track of passing lanes/open shooters more than a few times when barreling to the hoop (only to look for an outlet pass too late).
- E’Twuan Moore has two options: either he is still struggling with injury, or he isn’t capable of filling the backup PG/primary ball handler role. In 20 minutes tonight, he led the team with 4 turnovers (and a few lucky bounces on top of that). Most of all, when the ball was in his hands, it wasn’t leaping to the open man. With Ish Smith in, through all his faults, the passing was spectacular and to the open man. The buckets weren’t falling, but he created 4 open shots that should have gone in during his 7 minutes of play. That is what we need from E’Twuan…shooting isn’t enough in that role.
In the end, this game was the worst kind of loss for the Magic. I don’t even have to mention anything about the Pistons because they didn’t win the game-they just played a team that lost it to them. No effort, no energy, no focus. I was half expecting Coach Vaughn to bench a handful of starters on principle.
My only thought is that there may be an off-court element to the team’s performance tonight. With all the trade talk swirling, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that Hennigan talked with Afflalo, Davis, and Redick about their situation with the team as we head into the trade deadline. Players respond differently to different news, but that is the only reasonable explanation for the game tonight. That, or the team was doped in the hotel this morning by stealth agents of the Pistons.