A day after mounting a fourth-quarter comeback to defeat the Boston Celtics, it was the Orlando Magic's turn to be on the business end of an opponent's rally, falling to the Utah Jazz, 92-84, in overtime. Orlando increased its lead in each of the first three periods, entering the fourth with a decisive 72-51 lead. Then Utah, led by Charlotte Bobcats draft pick Derrick Brown, closed the fourth quarter on a 33-12 run to force overtime. Orlando had no chance in the final period, as Utah scored the extra frame's only 8 points. It was, frankly, astonishing to watch a Magic team that had looked so crisp in the last two days of play suddenly fall apart, especially to the Jazz, who have struggled.
There were some bright spots, however. Ryan Anderson led everyone with 26 points while throwing in 9 boards for good measure. Kasib Powell continued to make his case for inclusion on the Magic's roster with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Waterbug point guard Russell Robinson scored 17 points, handed out 4 assists, and committed only 1 turnover. Other than that, it was a rough day for the host team.
After the jump, some quick highlights of the players in whom most 3QC readers have shown interest.
Ryan Anderson's productive day (26 points, 9-of-18 from the field, 5-of-11 from long range, 9 boards, 4 blocks) belies the ways in which he harmed the Magic. Not to dis' the guy or anything, but his 8 personal fouls helped the Jazz with some free points. In summer league, there is no fouling out. However, for every foul after his 6th a player commits, the other team receives 2 free throws and the ball. Anderson's 7th and 8th fouls came late in the fourth quarter and in overtime, boosting the Jazz's improbable rally.
With that said, he showed a few new things yesterday. Banging down low? Blocking shots? We knew he wasn't "soft," but to see him so aggressive in defending the paint? Wow. He also displayed an ability to create shots for others: On the left wing, he works a dribble-handoff with Robinson... only he fakes the handoff to him, instead spinning toward the baseline and driving past two defenders (his and Robinson's). His drive forces the Jazz's next two closest defenders to collapse into the lane, and Anderson reads their movement and fires the ball out to Kasib Powell in the right corner for a wide-open three. It misses, but the play itself was impressive. Ryan Anderson: Playmaker? It could happen, however infrequently, as the dribble-handoff is one of the features of the Magic's offense.
Lethal on the pick-and-pop he is, too. Defenses need to account for this guy.
Levance Fields had his best day of camp. He hadn't done much to distinguish himself until today, when it appeared as though Jameer Nelson might have been running the show while wearing a Fields costume. The way he patiently reads defenses, the way he aggressively drives around screens, the way he can absorb contact to finish at the rim... it's Nelson-like. And although there's virtually no chance he'll make the final roster, he might be a guy the Magic keep on their radar as he heads overseas. With more seasoning, he could be a legit 13th man in the NBA.
Richard Hendrix continues to be my personal favorite of the Magic's big-man invitees, playing 26 minutes off the bench yesterday. But it was really a day to forget. Against the Jazz's bigger, stronger centers and power forwards, Hendrix struggled offensively. He was, in effect, only a way for Magic players who picked up their dribble to regain it, simply by throwing the ball in to him and waiting for the immediate kickout. On the day: 2 points (0-of-4 from the field), 8 rebounds, 7 fouls, 4 turnovers, and a block. Maybe I'm reading too deeply into this, but he--and not starting center Darian Townes--was on the floor when the Magic tried (unsuccessfully) to stave off Utah's rally. Is playing him in crunch-time a signal that the Magic are very interested? And is one bad day enough to cross him off the Magic's list of potential training-camp invitees? I hope the answers to those questions are "yes" and "no," respectively, but he certainly did not make a very strong case for himself yesterday.
Kasib Powell kept on the charm today, showcasing his array of skills with 13 points, 10 boards, 5 assists, and 1 steal. Now he shot only 4-of-12, and missed 5 of his 7 two-point attempts, so it wasn't all sunshine and happiness. But the guy is heady, a veteran, and could fill a spot near the end of Orlando's bench this season. Then again, you can look at his age (28), his limited NBA experience (12 games two seasons ago), and how he sometimes struggles to stay in front of quicker players in this camp, and conclude that his NBA window has shut.
Russell Robinson came to life offensively. The energetic point guard scored a personal best 17 points yesterday, with 5-of-9 from the field overall, 1-of-2 from long range, and 6-of-6 from the foul line. Two days ago, ESPN analyst and IMG Academy coach David Thorpe told my colleague, Eddy, that Robinson's inability to get his own shot might hurt his chances as an NBA point guard. If today is any indication, there's little to worry about on that front. He also ran the team's offense capably, pushed the ball up the floor in transition, and pressured the ball aggressively on defense. I'm going to keep beating this drum until someone gives me a good reason to stop: Russell Robinson has earned an invitation to the Orlando Magic's training camp. This is a young guy who knows what he's doing out there, and for the odd 3-to-5 minute stretch in some games next season, he could be effective.
The Magic will close out the summer league today when they take on the undefeated Indiana Pacers. Tip's at 3.