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Orlando’s Two 20-Year-Olds Lead Magic Over Celtics

2016 January 31
by Adam Papageorgiou
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

That’s more like it. Rookie Mario Hezonja and sophomore Aaron Gordon – both 20 years old – led the Orlando Magic to victory on Sunday night. The Magic took down Boston 119-114 to snap their 8-game losing streak. Hezonja notched a career-high 17 points on a fantastic 7-of-13 shooting while Gordon notched his career-tying 19 points and career-best 14 rebounds on 8-of-11 shooting. They paced their teammates when others were hesitant to do so.

Orlando took care of points in the paint (46-32) and second chance points (19-12). Orlando’s main issues were actually at the free throw line, shooting just 21-of-35 from the charity stripe. Boston shot an absurd 46 three-point attempts and only made sixteen.

Evan Fournier had 24 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting off the bench. The Frenchman had a clutch 13 points in the fourth. Nikola Vucevic finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists. Tobias Harris chipped in with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. But it was really Mario and Aaron that deserve a lot of credit for sparking the squad when the franchise desperately needed it.

Orlando finishes 2-12 for January, but that doesn’t matter. The Magic got a win they desperately needed. Forget about the rough February schedule

Below is the game recap.

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Orlando Gets Blown Out in Boston for 8th Straight Loss

2016 January 29
by Adam Papageorgiou
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

It won’t get easier. The Orlando Magic have now lost 8 straight games and 12 of their last 13 contests as they got bulldozed 113-94 on Friday night in Boston to a Celtics squad that is now on a 5-game win streak. Orlando was bullied in the paint once again as the hosts held a 50-32 interior advantage. Boston’s largest lead in the contest was 27 points.

Boston shot 50.0 FG% and had control for much of the contest as 7 Celtics were in double figures. Orlando was held to 40.5 FG%. Aaron Gordon was pretty much the only Magic man who had a decent game with 12 points and 9 rebounds. Nikola Vucevic was 4-of-11 from the field and had 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Everyone else was garbage.

Scott Skiles is reaching foreign territory as the skid grows. As an NBA Head Coach, Skiles lost 9 straight contests to open the 2004-2005 Chicago Bulls season. He lost 8 straight with the Bulls in the middle of the ’05-’06 campaign. Orlando’s at 8 consecutive defeats and possibly growing.

Below is the game recap.

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Appling Gets Second 10-Day Contract; Named NBDL All-Star

2016 January 29
by Adam Papageorgiou

app15

The Orlando Magic officially announced on Friday that Keith Appling has been signed to a second 10-day contract with the team. His first 10-day contract was signed on January 18th. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel originally broke the news that this would happen back on Tuesday, so there’s no element of surprise here.

The only anticipation now will be for what happens after this contract concludes. Either the Magic have to sign him for the remainder of the season, or Appling ends up returning to the Erie BayHawks just before his 24th birthday. It’ll be intriguing to see what happens to his playing time under Scott Skiles with all of the difficult opponents the Magic will continue to face.

Appling has appeared in two games for the Magic, averaging 3.0 ppg in 7.5 minutes per contest. #15 appeared in five preseason games with Orlando, averaging 1.2 ppg in 8.7 minutes per contest before being waived on October 19th. He’s a better point guard option than Shabazz Napier at the moment, and Keith has looked sharper than he did during exhibition play.

Other fantastic news for Appling: Keith has been named a NBA D-League All-Star for the first time. He’ll be Erie’s only representative this year.

Through 17 games with the BayHawks, the Michigan State Spartan averaged 16.8 ppg, 5.6 apg, and 4.1 rpg on 50% shooting from the field. His 2.1 steals per contest are 4th-best in the NBDL. Keith was leading the BayHawks in scoring, assists, and steals at the time of his call-up to Orlando.

Appling will play for the East squad as he will join 23 other NBDL players in Toronto for the All-Star contest on Saturday February 13th. Tip-off time is set for 2 p.m. EST. Congratulations, Keith.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

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It’s Now the Longest Period Orlando Has Gone with No All-Star

2016 January 28
by Adam Papageorgiou

voochd12

Central Florida has been pretty spoiled. This is currently the 27th season of Orlando Magic basketball and before this 2015-2016 campaign had begun, the largest gap between Magic players being named to an All-Star Game was 3 years. That three-year waiting period has happened twice: From the inaugural ’89-’90 season up to Shaquille O’Neal becoming an All-Star his rookie season in 1993, and 2013 through the present after Dwight Howard exited.

That tie is now broken, however. Thursday’s announcement of the NBA All-Star Eastern Conference reserves was made and the Orlando Magic – as we all anticipated – didn’t have one of their own named to the squad for the 2016 All-Star Game in Toronto come February 14th.

Barring Rob Hennigan trading for an All-Star in the next two weeks, or a bunch of East players getting injured and leading to Nikola Vucevic taking a spot as a replacement, the All-Star drought for the Magic will have reached 4 years: 2013, 2014, 2015, and now 2016. As great as Vooch has been the past few years, his 16.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.7 apg, and 1.1 bpg on 50.5 FG% isn’t enough – combined with the under .500 record – to warrant even making an argument that he belongs in the All-Star exhibition.

There is no Shaquille O’Neal, Anfernee Hardaway, Tracy McGrady, or Dwight Howard to anchor the franchise. Magic fans are dealing with an uncertain future in regards to when this franchise will become competitive again. It still may occur this season, but it’s unlikely with the recent losing that’s ongoing. Losing would be more tolerable if the Magic had an actual face to their franchise. That’s maybe the hardest thing about dealing with failure.

Magic miss out on the playoffs in ’93 barely, but fans were rejuvenated with a phenomenal rookie Shaq. The Magic were no longer title contenders after Shaq bailed in ’96, but at least Penny – banged up or not – was there to bring greatness on occasion. The ’99-’00 Heart ‘N Hustle is legitimately the one Magic team that didn’t have a star but were fun to watch.

McGrady carries the Magic for 4 years as the Grant Hill signing didn’t work out. T-MAC gets properly dealt away to Houston and immediately comes Dwight to make the next 8 years intriguing for good and bad. At least fans could focus on one stud to get them through the trials and tribulations of an NBA season. There just hasn’t been that star to follow D12. Rob Hennigan’s ‘organic’ rebuild counters what the Magic have done in years past, and that’s why there’s no definitive star wearing pinstripes.

Now, a large part of that is a lack of Draft Lottery luck. Orlando had the #1 pick in ’92, ’93, and ’04. This is also the longest period of time the franchise has officially gone without a #1 selection. There’s no jackpot to hit despite three years of tanking, and it’s absolutely frustrating now that we’re seeing the Magic having lost 11 of their last 12 contests.

The next two weeks are really important. If they pick up some quality wins against teams like Boston, Atlanta, OKC, and San Antonio, the Magic front office should just ride the wave and see if this current Magic roster can make a playoff run.

If Orlando falls off a cliff though and the season appears entirely lost, then you have to look at either trading to get an All-Star quality type of individual. Or, you dump salary before the February 19th deadline and prepare to go on a signing spree in the summer.

This franchise can’t go back to tanking. Enough damage has been done to an already very fragile fan base.

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International Summer Dilemmas Exist for Some Magic Men

2016 January 28

nichfourn

As this dreary January continues and the Orlando Magic keep racking up losses, some of the team’s players may already have their minds on what they’ll be doing in July. That’s because a few Magic men have some potential dilemmas ahead: Play for your national team? Not play and focus on that new NBA contract? Sit out and train with the sole focus being on the 2016-2017 Magic season?

The reason I just brought those questions up is because the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are occurring in August. Evan Fournier (France), Andrew Nicholson (Canada), Mario Hezonja (Croatia), and to a lesser extent, Melvin Ejim (Canada) and Janis Timma (Latvia) are all going to have an opportunity to be playing in those Olympics after striking out last year at the FIBA Americas and EuroBasket tournaments.

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It’ll be Payton v. Hezonja in All-Star Weekend Rising Stars Challenge

2016 January 27

hezelf

Orlando Magic sophomore point guard Elfrid Payton and rookie wing Mario Hezonja on Wednesday were chosen to participate in a fun part of the 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend festivities that will occur in Toronto, Canada on Friday February 12th. Both men will take part in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge inside the Air Canada Centre.

If you recall, last year it was Team USA v. Team World for the first time ever. I’m a fan of the format and glad it’s back for a second year. Team USA lost to Team World 121-112 in New York City in 2015. It was Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton representing the American side. Unfortunately, Elfrid had a very forgettable outing. Chance at redemption here. Oladipo was in the hunt for the MVP award that Andrew Wiggins would end up claiming.

This is a phenomenal opportunity for Mario Hezonja to let loose and have some thrills as he’s had a very inconsistent rookie campaign up to this point. In this exhibition, there’s no restrictions. The Croatian has plenty of flash and confidence to potentially put on a show for the Canadian audience.

Here are the rosters below:

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Orlando’s Losing Streak is Now at 7 After Losing in Milwaukee

2016 January 26
by Adam Papageorgiou
AP Photo/Tom Lynn

AP Photo/Tom Lynn

That frustrating feeling just keeps growing. Another contest that the Orlando Magic should have won, but let slip from their fingers. The Magic lost 107-100 in Milwaukee as the pinstriped patrol actually led the Bucks with just a hair over a minute remaining in the contest. Orlando has now lost 7 in a row and are 1-11 in January. At least this didn’t go to overtime.

Orlando shot 41.2 FG% while coughing up 49.4 FG% to their hosts, but the Magic stuck in the game thanks to 13-of-24 shooting on 3-pointers. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton each tallied 25 points. They had better contests than a lot of Magic men in their age bracket. Victor Oladipo had 18 points and Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Mario Hezonja had 11 points while Evan Fournier led the bench with fifteen. Those two created the fourth quarter comeback that forced Scott Skiles to sit some of his starters down the stretch. The Magic got pummeled 62-26 in points in the paint by Milwaukee, including 18-1 in fast break points. Painful.

Below is the game recap.

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Orlando Loses Another Overtime Game, This Time in Memphis

2016 January 25
by Adam Papageorgiou
AP Photo/Brandon Dill

AP Photo/Brandon Dill

The Orlando Magic are now 1-5 in overtime contests this 2015-2016 season. It’s the second consecutive game that Orlando wasted away, as they dropped another one in Memphis to the Grizzlies 108-102 in OT. Orlando has now lost 10 of their last 11 games. It’s just self-inflicted wounds now. Wounds that very well may not heal.

Orlando paid once again for keeping Aaron Gordon on the bench in crunch time, and there’s no foul trouble to support that decision on Monday night. With Victor Oladipo shooting 1-of-10 from the field and Evan Fournier clearly tiring down the stretch, it was inexplicable to keep #00 off the floor. Especially when Jeff Green scored a season-high 30 points and Zach Randolph notched 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Scott Skiles‘ team shot 46.5 FG% and held Memphis to 43.0 FG%, but lost because they coughed up 19 turnovers, attempted 11 fewer free throws, and got out-rebounded by eight. They still would’ve won in regulation had they not had that crucial inbound turnover. Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, and Evan Fournier each scored 16 points. Elfrid Payton had 14 points. But Aaron Gordon had 10 points and 9 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. The 20-year-old should have at least tallied 30+ minutes for as well as he played on both ends.

Below is the game recap.

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Adreian Payne Gets Assigned by Minnesota to Erie

2016 January 25
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Not exactly something that will knock you off your socks, but the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday sent big man Adreian Payne to the Orlando Magic’s NBDL hybrid affiliate…the Erie BayHawks. It’s rumored that Payne will spend a 5-game stint there.

The T-Wolves are one of 11 NBA teams that don’t have their own D-League team, so this move is being made under the Flexible Assignment Rule. The NBDL ‘identifies’ any of their teams willing to accept the assigned player (Payne). Minnesota then would have picked the destination for assignment between those teams. If no NBDL team voluntarily wanted Payne, he would have been assigned to a hybrid affiliate team from a lottery system.

So why care?

Well, I’m curious if Erie actually raised their hand and asked to get Payne. After all, Erie runs very similar styles and plays as the Magic do. There isn’t really a competitive advantage that can be gained by Minnesota though, because the Magic already swept the T-Wolves 2-0 earlier in this season.

Payne won’t take minutes away from Melvin Ejim, Nnanna Egwu, Jordan Sibert, and Tyler Harvey. Those are the 4 guys the Magic care about most with Keith Appling and Devyn Marble being with the actual Magic squad currently. Payne at PF fits in nicely. It’ll be funny if Payne plays really well, the Magic front office falls in love with him, and make a move to try and acquire his services in the future.

Payne has appeared in 30 games with the T-Wolves this season, his third year as a professional. The Michigan State Spartan product is averaging 2.7 ppg and 2.0 rpg per contest. This has been a very down season for the 24-year-old. Minnesota has a $3.1 million team option they can choose to exercise for the 2017-2018 season. Maybe some time in Erie under coach Bill Peterson will do him some well.

Plus, the 9-15 BayHawks could use the help. Erie plays in Mississauga, Ontario to take on Raptors 905 on Wednesday. They play 5 games in less than two weeks.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

 

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

WATCH: ‘Trust’ and ‘Adversity’ the Main Magic Talking Points

2016 January 22
AP Photo/John Raoux

AP Photo/John Raoux

There’s zero doubt that we’ve reached the lowest point of this Orlando Magic so far. Will they collapse, or will they find a way to lift themselves back up during their upcoming road trip? It’s really difficult not to select the latter option after what we’ve seen from this squad in their home losses to the awful Sixers and injured Hornets. But here we are, watching the locker room discussing about trusting one another and fighting through adversity.

Nikola Vucevic – sporting a shiner – says it best, they just have to act. Some guys are sad, some are angry, some are dealing with this differently than others. Everyone has some sort of emotions they’re displaying at least. If the Magic want to survive this rough stretch, unity is the only solution.

Scott Skiles:

 

Nikola Vucevic:

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