You’ve seen the red shirts. As part of the Orlando Magic and UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to a healthy community, the two are teaming up to tip off Fit Week on Sunday January 25th when the Magic take on the Indiana Pacers.
The activities will start at 4:00 p.m. outside at Fan Fest presented by FanDuel on Church Street with timed skills and drills competitions, a cooking demonstration with the head chef from Levy Restaurants, exercises led by the Magic Fit 8-week challenge winners from Wolf Lake Elementary, and Magic Fit giveaway items. During the game fans will receive health and wellness messages and other information on how to stay healthy and active.
The week will include another Fit Night presented by UnitedHealthcare on Thursday January 29th when the Magic host the Milwaukee Bucks. Throughout the year, the Orlando Magic and UnitedHealthcare have partnered to engage Central Florida youth in approximately 53,000 hours of healthy, physical activity. The most recent activity was the Magic and UnitedHealthcare’s Fit Fest on January 10th.
There are few people on this planet that loves this Orlando Magic franchise more than I do. Every so often I feel the need to repeat that statement. But this 15-31 Magic team is in a bad situation two and a half years into this rebuild, and Friday’s 113-106 loss to the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden has magnified concerns. The tanking Knicks are on a 3-game win streak now. The Magic haven’t won three consecutive contests since February of last year.
Matt Guokas had 4 years to get the start-up Magic franchise to the playoffs. 41-41 wasn’t enough to get into the ’93 playoffs, and Brian Hill got to come in with Guokas having done the hard part of molding some of that youth. Jacque Vaughn may not see a Year 4 at this rate. Coach ‘JV’ is in a dogfight for his positional future. It’s a shame because he’s pulled off a plethora of starting lineup, rotation, scheme, and even attitude tweaks and changes. None of it is working. But you can’t fire 50% of an NBA roster, so typically a front office changes the coaching culture instead.
Something has to change. The consistency issues this team is showing on the court continue to baffle. One game it’s discipline. Another it’s effort. Another it’s focus. Another it’s attitude. Another the defense is awful. Another the offense is appalling. There are enough veterans on this youthful squad where this should not be occurring. Period. Team and individual effort seems to be the main issue over the past few weeks, and there is zero urgency from this bunch when a simple little 5-game win streak can easily get you back in the playoff picture in a weak Eastern Conference. You know it’s bad when even my patience gets tested. Pick an identity and stick with it. Make your players own up to it. If you don’t want to play 100% for more than one quarter, step aside and let someone else who does get on the court. There are D-League guys begging to play in the Association.
Okay, Papageorgiou, why the dumpster fire comparison? Well, I’ve never started one, and I’ve witnessed only a few in person, but here goes. What components make up a dumpster fire? Well dumpsters are typically large. So let’s throw the entire front office, coaching staff, and player roster into this dumpster. Dumpsters hold sometimes surprisingly quality items, hidden gems. They also hold undesirable items like bad contracts or over-the-hill talent. Maybe mentally fragile players. A studly asset even that’s inexplicably in this dumpster.
The burning fire. The fire represents losing, player inconsistencies, player skill/confidence regressions, the development of bad habits, and other things that prevent a team from becoming good.
Now with many dumpster fires, not everything is on fire. Some of your more pristine items in the dumpster may be smoking a bit, but they’re not blazing. Elfrid Payton‘s jump shooting troubles, Victor Oladipo not being a real point guard and not displaying defensive consistency, Nikola Vucevic not being a shot swatter. Just examples. All of these guys are outstanding talents, but none of them are perfect. What keeps these guys from completely burning in the dumpster fire? Character? Team will? Bonding with the guy you’re sitting next to on the bench or team plane? A hunger for success? Championships? Getting paid? Who knows. Each person is equipped differently.
My point being that whatever positives truly exist on this franchise, they’re getting negated by all the burning garbage surrounding it. It’s sucking away all the oxygen to the brink where you can’t breathe. You’re suffocating under the pressure of losing and know that this is the first time in 3 seasons that there were some actual win-loss record expectations. It’s frustrating and we all want to find solutions for solving Orlando’s problems. But no matter how much water you throw onto this fire, the damn thing won’t extinguish. Eventually the blaze wins and the dumpster just burns until there’s nothing left to burn. A smoldering mess is all that remains.
There’s going to come a moment where all the tweaks and ‘we got to do better’ quotes are no longer tolerated by the franchise decision makers. That’s where Rob Hennigan will come in. We’re less than a month away from the NBA trade deadline. February 19th.
Henny’s got massive decisions to make with Restricted Free Agents Tobias Harris and Kyle O’Quinn. Do you plan on trading one of them to get some type of assets? Will you let one of them walk? Are you planning to match one of them no matter what contract another team offers? Are you looking for a big man in the Draft? Are you planning on relying on Dewayne Dedmon more next season? Do you deal Luke Ridnour and Ben Gordon? Will you trade Andrew Nicholson or Maurice Harkless since they’re buried on your bench? Or can you not do that because if you fire Jacque then maybe the next guy that comes in will have use for either of them? Do you give James Borrego 2-3 months to work with this bunch?
Three to 4 years of rebuilding could very well turn into 7 or 8 if this franchise’s fortunes don’t improve. That would be uncharted waters for this franchise. You have an All-Star in Nikola Vucevic. Another great player in Victor Oladipo. You’ve got 3-point shooters in Channing Frye and a versatile Evan Fournier. Three fantastic-to-solid rookies in Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon, and Devyn Marble. Payton is your franchise point guard with Vooch the franchise big man. It’s there. There’s talent. The pieces exist. We see it even if folks outside of Orlando can’t. It’s about figuring out a way to tap into it. Sooner rather than later, please. It’s terrifying even just contemplating the thought of long-term failure. I want to see Jacque and this roster succeed, but those flames are getting larger and taking up a lot of space at a rapid pace.
20-year-old Orlando Magic point guard Elfrid Payton is with the squad in New York City in preparation to take on the Knicks on Friday. Elfrid today had time to participate in some Q&A with fans on the NBA’s Reddit page. Other than smoothly ignoring the Dwight Howard ‘crazy hair’ question, there are some very fun responses.
Not much of a surprise here, Tobias Harris is one of the most competitive guys on the team.
So there’s one secret finally revealed. Now to figure out what grandma does to keep his hair so unique.
THERE’S HOPE! Nikola Vucevic doesn’t like ‘Vucci Mane’ as a nickname, and out of respect I’ll continue calling him ‘Vooch’ until that changes.
Offense is not an issue for the Orlando Magic. Far from it. Orlando fell to 15-30 on the season as Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons had way too much firepower for the Magic to handle, losing 128-118 in Detroit on Wednesday night. It’s never a good sign when you give up a 20/20 game to Brandon Jennings, but that’s what happened. Jennings dropped 24 points and a career-high 21 assists. Andre Drummond added 26 points and 16 rebounds. A beast in the making. Greg Monroe tallied 24 points and 10 rebounds. Some absurd stat lines.
The Magic never led in the contest despite shooting 50.0 FG%. Nikola Vucevic posted 26 points and 13 rebounds while Victor Oladipo added 23 points. Tobias Harris tallied 19 second half points off the bench. Evan Fournier contributed 14 points and Kyle O’Quinn contributed twelve. Orlando got embarrassed once more in the first half of a game only to crawl back and make the final score look respectable. This season is on the brink of being lost.
Below is the full game recap.
- Detroit came in as one of the hottest team in the Eastern Conference, having won 11 of their last 14 games. One of those wins came in Orlando on December 30th. Stan Van Gundy’s team has been fantastic since waiving Josh Smith.
- Jacque Vaughn activated Tobias Harris as Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson were both deactivated for this contest. Devyn Marble – the Michigan native – still started. T12 had last played on January 9th in Detroit. First time Orlando has been completely healthy since the second day of training camp.
- Orlando trailed 16-8 with 7:09 left in the first period. Other than Elfrid Payton, the Magic were not looking good. When the Pistons didn’t bully Orlando in the paint, Kyle Singler was draining 3-pointers. Even the defense of Victor Oladipo has left a lot to be desired at times this season.
- Over halfway through the first and Detroit was 9-of-12 from the field and the Magic had only ONE rebound. No wonder the Pistons had a 21-12 lead.
- Orlando had 18 total points, while Detroit with ease had 20 IN THE PAINT alone. Zero interior defense. 30-18 with 3:02 left in the first when Tobias Harris first checked in after missing the last 5 games with a bad ankle.
- Detroit put up a season-high 35 points in the first period, leading Orlando by 11 after one quarter. Detroit shot 58.3 FG% (14-of-24). It would have been worse if not for some great defensive play from Aaron Gordon.
- It was a bit of a reprieve to see Andre Drummond pick up his 3rd foul early in the second quarter.
- Orlando made a bit of a comeback thanks to 3-pointers from Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic getting it going offensively. Orlando was out-shooting Detroit too, but still down 52-44 with 3:20 until halftime.
- Orlando trailed 65-48 at halftime. Brandon Jennings had 11 assists, just one more short of the entire Magic team. Greg Monroe had a casual 20 points and 8 rebounds, including two buckets in which he beat Orlando in transition alone which is disgraceful. Vucevic had 12 points and 6 boards and Oladipo added 10 points.
- It is no coincidence that Dewayne Dedmon didn’t play a second in that first half. Same thing when he didn’t play the first half against the Thunder.
- Just no fight from this Magic team after getting obliterated by OKC and having 2 full days off. At some point in the third period, pride would kick in.
- Tobias Harris definitely looked rusty. Not making his first shot until there was 1 minute left in the third period. Orlando was down fifteen as Brandon Jennings was putting on a nasty clinic. At least Vucevic had another double-double racked up. Harris would drill a 3-pointer at the third quarter buzzer as Orlando trailed 96-84 entering the 4th period. Offense again was not the Magic’s issue.
- Some great defense from Kyle O’Quinn and Aaron Gordon, teamed up with Tobias Harris heating up along with Willie Green dishing some nice assists, and Orlando was only down 98-91 with 8:33 left.
- Kyle was making plays left and right on both ends. A Tobias and-1 got Orlando within 98-96 with 7:31 remaining. A remarkable comeback at this point. And then Kentavious Caldwell-Pope converted a 4-point play.
- Detroit went back ahead 111-102 with 4:30 remaining regulation behind a red hot Brandon Jennings and a huge Anthony Tolliver 3-pointer.
- Orlando ran out of gas after that. Can’t win playing less than one half of decent basketball.
Orlando heads to New York City where they’ll take on a Knicks team that is one of the worst teams in the NBA on Friday.
Orlando Magic Head Coach Jacque Vaughn didn’t question his team’s effort against the Thunder. That wasn’t the issue. A lack of “nastiness”, and “aggression”, and “hostility” were. In one of his more passionate postgame interviews of his coaching career, Jacque wants a more old school approach where NBA athletes are not as friendly with each other.
The Orlando Magic gave up a franchise record 79 points to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half. It’s the most that franchise had scored in the first half since becoming the Thunder. Orlando was down 79-45 at halftime on 72.7 FG% Thunder shooting. The Magic lost 127-99 on Sunday night. The largest deficit was 38 and Orlando had never led. That’s all you really need to know about this contest, the first 24 minutes. The Magic are now 5-14 at Amway Center. It was evident OKC badly wanted to even up their record at 20-20.
127 points is the most Orlando has conceded since giving up 128 to the Bulls in the triple overtime loss against the Bulls on January 15th of 2014. Regulation wise, last time it had happened was when the Magic lost 127-110 in Toronto on February 20th of 2008. Yikes.
The Thunder had 7 players in double digits. Kevin Durant finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists. Victor Oladipo led the Magic with 23 points, but he had the worst team plus/minus at -30. Elfrid Payton tallied 19 points and 8 assists while Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and 7 rebounds.
Below is the full game recap.
So many great Central Florida community actions of late. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, the Orlando Magic and Chase banked teamed up on Saturday to unveil a newly refurbished basketball court at Palmetto Elementary. Kyle O’Quinn, Magic Community Ambassadors Bo Outlaw and Nick Anderson, STUFF the Magic mascot, and Magic Dancers joined the celebration. After the ribbon cutting, O’Quinn, Outlaw and Anderson ran a brief basketball clinic on the new court for the youth.
— Annie Finberg (@AnnieFinberg) January 17, 2015
The Magic and Chase also surprised the school with $5,000 in brand new P.E. equipment.
Earlier this month, the two teamed up to surprise the students at Palmetto Elementary with news they would be receiving a new basketball court. Nearly 300 fourth and fifth grade students participated in the special student assembly to learn their school was selected.
As Champion of the Community partners, the Magic and Chase have been working together on community projects that impact and benefit Central Florida. Since the partnership began, together they have refurbished five community sports facilities in the area, including Palmetto Elementary, with a goal of completing 10 total courts. The two are working to support local communities and to celebrate the Magic’s multicultural platforms, including the Magic’s Black History Month presented by Chase.
— Magic Community News (@CommunityLeak) January 17, 2015
One game isn’t going to cause the Orlando Magic to top wanting to push the tempo. They lost to a great Memphis Grizzlies team that used their size and ability to draw timely fouls. Orlando will have Saturday off to rest and hopefully they’ll find a way to out-run OKC.
The Orlando Magic were seeking their first 3-game winning streak of the 2014-2015 campaign. It wasn’t meant to be on Friday night as Memphis won at Amway Center 106-96. Magic rookie point guard Elfrid Payton had a fantastic performance. 22 points and 12 assists for the 20-year-old. Both career-highs. Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 9 rebounds. Channing Frye had seventeen and Victor Oladipo contributed 16 points. Devyn Marble also had a career-high of 8 points.
Give the Grizzlies credit, they won at their slow tempo. Jeff Green led with 21 points. Marc Gasol added 12 points, 16 rebounds, and 8 assists. Zach Randolph poured in 18 points and 12 rebounds. Courtney Lee tallied 16 points. Memphis out-rebounded Orlando 47-39 and that made a vast difference in this tight contest. As did the 23-of-29 free throws in comparison to Orlando’s 15-of-20 from the charity stripe.
Below is the full game recap.
He may be out injured currently, but Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris will be featured on NBA TV’s Inside Stuff this Saturday January 17th at 12 p.m. EST. As will his mother, Lisa Harris. The two will reflect on the story of Harris’ grandfather, John Mulzac, a pioneering Tuskegee Airmen during World War II who inspired Orlando’s emerging star to achieve his dreams. Hosted by former Magic man Grant Hill and well-known Orlando supporter Kristen Ledlow, the 30-minute show will look ahead to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as it celebrates the history of the courageous group of African-American military airmen in which Mulzac served.