Oladipo Era Begins With Orlando Magic Loss at Indiana
The Orlando Magic fought hard but still lost in their 2013-2014 regular season debut at Indiana, 97-87. That’s an all too familiar common theme from last season’s campaign. The Pacers were just too lengthy, active, and chaotic in the paint to deal with no matter how many times Orlando attacked the rim. The Magic were rejected a franchise record 18 times and only blocked a third of that themselves. Victor Oladipo’s debut had plenty of bumps and bruises, but in front of a lot of Hoosier lovers the #2 draft pick finished with 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in just over 22 minutes of action. His intensely focused drives to the rack are a welcoming sight considering Orlando’s starting veteran backcourt of Jameer and Arron were 8-of-24 from the field.
When Orlando opened the game down 12-0 to begin their Tuesday night, you could feel the fans ready to blow up a nuclear lab. However, the team would settle down as the game played on - much to do with the hot shooting of Andrew Nicholson. Jason Maxiell may have started at PF, but Nicholson dominated at that position in the first half with 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting. So much so that Jeff Turner dropped his trademark ‘KAPAYA!’ for the young Canadian who led Orlando’s rampant comeback. Yet, Jacque Vaughn questionably chose to sts the hot hand in favor of substitution rotations, leaving Andrew to play only 19 minutes in the game. Orlando went to the locker room with the lead, up 44-40 at the break.
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Roy Hibbert was a problem for any Magic player to handle the entire evening as he was a terror on the glass and on help swat duty. Hibbert helped fuel a 7-0 Pacers run to open the second half. Hibbert finished the game with 16 rebounds and seven blocks.
Arron Afflalo may have changed his offseason training regiment, but he still kills ball movement and he still can’t defend nearly at the same level he was able to as a Denver Nugget, with Lance Stephenson, Paul George, and even Orlando Johnson lighting him up.
Moe Harkless had the misfortune of being a victim of Paul George’s ‘rising superstar’ with Maurice dealing with too much foul trouble. Harkless having to hit the bench ended up being the best way to get Oladipo going on offense. Hoosier fans got to really see the variety in Victor’s offensive game, both inside and out - with an enormous fastbreak dunk that was quite the crowd pleaser.
Paul George finished with a game high 24 points while also pulling in six boards, dishing five assists and blocking three shots.
A George 3-pointer beat the buzzer at the end of the 3rd quarter to put Indiana up 69-64 entering the final period. A 14-1 Pacers run in the 4th would put Indy up 15 as Orlando couldn’t recover and eventually gave into their superior foes. It was encourageing to see Oladipo’s relentlessness and E’Twaun Moore providing good two-way assistance. Especially since Afflalo and Nelson struggled mightily for the majority the night.
Orlando is back at it in Minnesota on Wednesday night with tip at 8:00 EST.
Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.