The Orlando Magic hosted their annual open practice Saturday, which included a scrimmage, a three-point contest, a game of knockout, and Magic rookie Stephen Zimmerman singing to “Let It Burn” by Usher.
Magic head coach Frank Vogel got things started by thanking the fans for showing up, and then proceeded in asking the fans if they were “tired of missing the playoffs.” After a loud cheer by the crowd, Vogel followed it up with “that ends this year.” Before the Magic can start thinking about the playoffs, they have to focus on the last 11 days before they tip off the season against the Miami Heat.
After Vogel addressed the fans, the team went on to take warm-up shots on both sides of the court, then the team was split up into two squads for the scrimmage. The scrimmage consisted of two 6-minute halves with a timeout after the three-minute mark.
The scrimmage was short for the Magic, but Serge Ibaka stood out in the first half with a couple of really nice moves in the post. Ibaka was teamed up with Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic. The other team consistent of D.J. Augustin, Mario Hezonja, Bizmack Biyombo, Jeff Green and Damjan Rudez.
The Ibaka-led Blue team won the first half of the scrimmage, 14-9.
In the second half of the scrimmage, Cliff Alexander and Mario Hezonja stood out. Alexander had two really nice moves in the post, while Hezonja caught an alley-oop from Nick Johnson and had a couple of other highlight plays in the process.
After the scrimmage, Vogel decided to have some fun and set up a three-point competition in front of the fans. The most exciting three-point contest was the first one between CJ Wilcox and Augustin. Wilcox knocked down 18 shots in a one-minute span, while Augustin fell just short with 17.
Hezonja, Green and Johnson also participated with Hezonja finishing with 15, Green with 8 and Johnson with 13.
Following the three-point contest, the Magic had a full-team knockout game which was the most exciting part of Saturday’s event. Vogel said after the event that playing knockout is something that he brought over from his days in Indiana and the Magic players seemed to enjoy it.
Vucevic eliminated Fournier during the game, Green eliminated both Ibaka and Vucevic, while Hezonja eliminated Rudez.
The final four of the game were Hezonja, Green, Johnson and Wilcox. After a couple of minutes of all four players going at each other, Hezonja finally eliminated Johnson to cut it down to three participants. After another strong shooting display, Wilcox eliminated Green after his shot hit the side rim and flew into the corner.
It came down to Wilcox and Hezonja and Wilcox took down Hezonja after his shot rattled on the rim for a second and then Wilcox hit his jumper from the top of the key, giving the third-year player the win in both competitions Saturday.
Hezonja after losing in knockout: “Oh, man, I hate losing,” he said with a smile. “I’m so pissed, that’s crazy. That was a great shot by CJ, I don’t even know how to call it. I did the lay-up first and he takes his shot and my ball stays on the rim, it was crazy. It was a good match.”
Vogel on knockout: “It’s just something we did in Indiana that, you know, we had a lot of fun with. It’s fun to see NBA players basically play a kids game .. We’ve had a lot of fun in year’s past. I remember one year, George Hill and Paul George were the final two and it went on for like ten straight minutes. They couldn’t knock each other out. Finally we had to call it a tie, but these guys went on and had a lot of fun.”
Vogel on if winning both competitions is going to earn him more playing time: “No, we know he can shoot,” he said jokingly.
Vogel on Zimmerman singing Usher: “You know, I wasn’t even going to ask him to sing or dance. I wasn’t going to do that. I threatened to do it prior. I didn’t just want to just hit him without letting him know, so I called him out, I said play the music and I was going to tell him to sit down. But he took the microphone and said let me do it, let me go out and sing. So I was very impressed with him
Juan Toribio is an MBO Contributor.