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Nikola Vucevic After Loss to Phoenix: “This One Is On Me”

2016 March 4

voochpho

The Orlando Magic lost to a Phoenix Suns squad that had not won a road game since December 7th. Almost 3 entire months. One Magic guy shouldn’t take the blame for this as Nikola Vucevic tried to do. He wasn’t the only person defending Alex Len. I commend Vooch for stepping in as one of the team’s leaders, but the entire squad should be ashamed at that awful showing.

Nikola Vucevic:

 

Elfrid Payton:

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Orlando Doesn’t Appear in Loss to Phoenix Suns

2016 March 4
by Adam Papageorgiou
Fernando Medina/GettyImages

Fernando Medina/GettyImages

This probably will go down as the worst Orlando Magic defeat of the 2015-2016 season. There have been some notably awful losses, but this one may have unofficially ended any playoff hopes. In a game they needed to win prior to their upcoming 4-game Western Conference road trip, the Magic laid an egg. Orlando fell to a physically and mentally battered Phoenix Suns squad, 102-84 on Friday evening.

Phoenix had way more energy. Look at the fouls and free throws. Magic committed 31 personal fouls while the Suns only committed 16 fouls. Suns were 27-of-39 on free throws while the Magic were just 7-of-14 from the charity stripe. Orlando shot a horrendous 34.7 FG% (35-of-101). Alex Len had a career-high 31 points and 15 rebounds for Phoenix. Devin Booker and Ronnie Price each contributed 14 points.

Personal statistics don’t matter, but Orlando got 19 points and 11 assists from Elfrid Payton. Nikola Vucevic had a rare bad shooting night, posting 15 points and 12 rebounds on 7-of-19 FGs. Mario Hezonja and Evan Fournier each added 12 points. Orlando got little bench help. 2-of-14 shooting from Ersan Ilyasova. Devyn Marble and Brandon Jennings were each 0-of-6 on FGs.

Below is the game recap. 

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Magic Stomp Bulls; Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

2016 March 2

vicchi

The Orlando Magic and the Chicago Bulls are near carbon copies of each other, both teams are fighting for their playoff lives in the tightly bunched Eastern Conference race, they both have struggled keeping their opponents from putting the ball in the hole of late, and both faced off against each other in Orlando one night after suffering an embarrassing defeat.

However, one team separated itself from the other. The Magic played like a team on the upswing, desperate to reach the postseason for the first time as a group. Meanwhile, the Bulls played like a team on the second night of a back-to-back set, without their full complement of players, and effectively falling apart at the seams.  Orlando rolled past the Bulls 102-89 and secured a tie-breaker advantage over Chicago for playoff seeding purposes in the process.

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Mavs Surge Past Orlando; Hand Magic Super Tuesday Loss

2016 March 1
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The calendar has flipped to March and the Magic are running out of both days and games to turn their season around in order to make an honest attempt at gaining their first postseason berth in four years. They took a step back on Tuesday night as they fell to the Mavericks 121-108 in Dallas. Ersan Ilyasova was the game’s leading scorer with 22 points and 10 rebounds and Nikola Vucevic added 18 points in a losing effort. Future Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki contributed 19 points, and Wes Matthews poured in 21 points to pace the Mavericks in victory.

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WATCH: Orlando Players Talk Magic Win to Conclude February

2016 February 28

marphi

The Orlando Magic ended February with a 5-7 record. It’s way better than that 2-12 January. Even though they never trailed against Philadelphia, inconsistent defense continues to haunt their hopes of really digging into this Eastern Conference playoff chase.

Victor Oladipo singing is always a good sign when you enter the locker room. Justin Bieber is still popular on his playlist. Everyone was thrilled to see Mario Hezonja do well in his first NBA start. The Croatian is about as fun as any other Magic player right now, both on and off the court.

Mario Hezonja:

 

Aaron Gordon:

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Hezonja Earns First NBA Start; Magic Surpass Last Season’s Win Total

2016 February 28
by Adam Papageorgiou
Fernando Medina/GettyImages

Fernando Medina/GettyImages

The Orlando Magic conclude February with 26 victories on this ’15-’16 campaign after a 130-116 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night. That exceeds their 25-win total from last season. Orlando has a very intriguing final 6 weeks ahead as they claw to stay in the playoff hunt. The 130 points is the most Orlando has scored in a victory or in a non-overtime game since dropping 135 in a home win over Indiana on January 27, 2009.

It almost turned into a disastrous loss. Orlando was up by as many as 29 points in the third period. Philadelphia chipped away at that Magic lead and got it to within single digits. Philly never led. Some clutch play late by Elfrid Payton though, and Orlando secured the win.

Orlando shot 57.0 FG% but allowed Philly to stay in it as they hoisted up 53.2 FG%. Before fouling out, Nikola Vucevic had 28 points and 6 rebounds on 13-of-18 shooting. Victor Oladipo also contributed 28 points. Aaron Gordon notched a career-high 22 points to go with his 7 rebounds. Payton had 11 points and 10 assists. Jahlil Okafor led the Sixers with 26 points.

Below is the game recap. 

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Orlando Disappoints as Knicks End 6-Game MSG Losing Skid

2016 February 26
by Adam Papageorgiou

nycmag

The Orlando Magic picked the wrong evening to have effort problems. They fell to the New York Knicks 108-95 inside Madison Square Garden on Friday night. It’s a pitiful defeat considering how well Orlando had played Golden State the night before. If they would have mimicked that energy, they would have blown out the struggling Knicks.

The Knicks shot 20 more free throws than Orlando (30-of-36 v. 11-of-16). So much for that Magic charity stripe progress of late. Orlando couldn’t rely on their jumpers either, only managing 6-of-27 on 3s and 41.9 FG%. Seven Knicks reached double digits in scoring. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Arron Afflalo notched 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 8 rebounds, but was curiously stuck on the Magic bench in the fourth period. Aaron Gordon continues to produce, posting 17 points and 8 rebounds. Victor Oladipo had 16 points. Elfrid Payton posted 8 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds. Dewayne Dedmon poured in a season-tying 12 points off the pine.

Fatigue from Thursday’s loss to Golden State or not, that’s a poor showing against a Knicks team that isn’t good.

Below is the game recap.

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Orlando Claims Chris Copeland, Waives Him in 24 Hours

2016 February 26
by Adam Papageorgiou

copebucks

Prior to the Orlando Magic’s matchup with the Golden State Warriors, the franchise waived Chris Copeland on Thursday evening. This coming less than 24 hours after GM Rob Hennigan acquired the former Milwaukee Bucks forward off waivers. Yahoo! Sports‘ Shams Charania reported both pieces of news first.

So what gives?

It’s a boring acquisition…and then departure, but it’s all about the team’s salary cap. This will have no impact on what Orlando will want to try and accomplish in the upcoming free agency. Depending on how it works out, the Magic will have around $45 million available to go shopping for talent.

Copeland – just like with Jared Cunningham last week – was never expected to report to the team. It was all about the contract. The 31-year-old 6’9″ forward’s expiring $1.15 million contract was acquired using part of the $8.19 million Traded Player Exception the Magic got from Cleveland in the Channing Frye trade last week.

Copeland’s salary puts Orlando back above the league-minimum $63 million team salary floor. That floor is 90% of the franchise’s $70 million salary cap. Had the Magic not met the floor, any extra money would have been split across the current Magic player roster.

However, Orlando still has about $7 million left of that Frye TPE. That counts against their cap. Should they not renounce it, but instead choose to hold onto it through July 1st, that would put Orlando about half-a-million over the salary cap. We’ll see how the situation plays out. Again, not an enormous worry in the grand scheme of things.

On a funny side note, Copeland was given the #9 in the GSW contest’s statistics sheet. That’s obviously Vucevic’s jersey number. Orlando’s roster remains at 14 players.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO. 

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

WATCH: Skiles and Gordon Talk Steph Curry and Magic Loss

2016 February 25

aggsw

Stephen Curry was so phenomenal that a career-tying 19 points from Orlando Magic sophomore forward Aaron Gordon, that included a few enormous dunks that should be rocking the highlight reels, was just an afterthought.

It’s not that the Orlando Magic did bad. On the contrary, the kept Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in check. Curry went off, but it wasn’t due to bad defense. Steph is just doing stuff that you nor I have ever seen before. Michael Jordan and LeBron James are greats for a wide variety of reasons, but that skinny point guard that wears #30 deserves to start being included in these types of conversations. It’s absurd what he’s doing.

Magic need to regroup and turn it around in less than 24 hours against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.

Scott Skiles:

 

Aaron Gordon:

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO. 

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

Steph Curry Steals Spotlight as Magic Fall to Warriors

2016 February 25
by Adam Papageorgiou

currydipo

The basketball planet is currently run by Stephen Curry right now. His 51 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds on 20-of-27 FGs and 10-of-15 on 3s puts that performance as one of the best ever from a Magic opponent. The ten triples are a franchise opponent record against O-Town. What’s maybe most remarkable, is that Curry only took 1 free throw attempt. In the past 50+ years of the NBA, no one has ever dropped 50 points while shooting 1 free throw or less. That’s bonkers.

Orlando made it a seesaw battle for the first 34 minutes of Thursday’s contest, but Curry’s greatness vaulted the Warriors over the Magic to a final score of 130-114. 24 of Curry’s 51 points came in the third period. In a game where his teammates were kept in check, curry proved why his the MVP. Just give him the award now.

Golden State shot 60.2 FG%, including 13-of-25 on 3s. They only shot 4-of-14 in the first half. They were 9-of-11 in the second as Curry made seven of his 3s then. Orlando only mustered 45.6 FG%, but were in the contest because they attempted 12 more free throws. Golden State’s 36-12 fast break points advantage is what truly separated the two squads.

Orlando got little bench production, but all 5 Magic starters played decently as they reached double figures. Evan Fournier led the home side with 20 points. Aaron Gordon has a career-tying 19 points as well as 8 rebounds. Nikola Vucevic tallied 17 points and 9 rebounds. A hobbled Victor Oladipo had 14 points on just 5-of-16 shooting. Elfrid Payton rounded out the five with 12 points and 6 assists. It was all about Steph though.

Steph joins LeBron James as the only other opponents to score 51 points in Amway Center. They’re also the one two men in Magic history to post a line of at least 51-8-7. The 19,189 in attendance at Amway Center was a season-high, and the fifth-most ever for a Magic game since the building opened in 2010. Many of those people cheered for Curry and the champs.

Below is the game recap.

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