A shorthanded Orlando Magic squad ended their preseason Friday with a 101-82 loss to the visiting New Orleans Pelicans. The teams were tied, 45-all, at halftime, but the Pelicans used their superior talent and depth to their advantage in the second half to pull off the big victory.
Orlando went 2-6 in the preseason, and now has four days to prepare for the season opener against the Indiana Pacers. Here's a look at some stories from Friday's exhibition finale.
Power forward in flux
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said after Friday's loss that he's still not sure who will start at power forward when the regular season begins Tuesday. He says "balance and continuity" between the starters and the second unit are important factors which will play a role in his decision.
"We'll see what combinations are best for us going forward," Vaughn said. "At the end of the day, it will be dictated by both groups that will share time on the floor."
Vaughn has no shortage of options, with Andrew Nicholson, Tobias Harris, Jason Maxiell, Kyle O`Quinn, and Solomon Jones all in the mix. Tyler Lashbrook made a compelling argument in favor of Nicholson, who started Friday's loss, getting the starting job.
Orlando didn't play Jameer Nelson, age 31, or Maxiell, 30, on Friday. Vaughn said that both players simply had the night off; neither of them is injured. "I think they've played in their fair share of preseason games," Vaughn said. "And they've practiced and played with the groups of guys that they'll play with in games. So it's just a matter of being judicious with their minutes, and trying to be smart and keeping them healthy."
The night off for Nelson and Maxiell, coupled with injuries to Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb, and Glen Davis, gave Orlando's non-core players an extended look. Only eight Magic players saw the floor after halftime. Of those eight, only Ronnie Price and E`Twaun Moore have guaranteed contracts for the season ahead.
"Overall the group's energy was pretty good," Vaughn said of his second unit, adding that it was a positive that each non-guaranteed player got so many minutes.
Odds and ends
- Maxiell had a pair of Horace Grant-style protective goggles hanging in his locker. Maxiell, who underwent surgery in April to correct a detached retina, has been wearing the sleeker Bo Outlaw style of eyewear, but said in training camp that he favored the Grant and that he was working on obtaining a pair. The veteran power forward grew up in Chicago, where Grant started his career, and counts him among his favorite players of all time.
- In the second quarter, Pelicans center Greg Stiemsma dove into the seats along the sidelines in pursuit of a loose ball. He collided with a pregnant woman sitting courtside and dislodged four seats in total, totally wrecking one of them beyond repair. The woman, a former Magic Dancer, was unharmed; she later moved to a non-courtside seat in the lower bowl.
- As he exited the locker room after the game, Price told Magic rookie Victor Oladipo that "there's nothing like your first regular season game," noting that the preseason doesn't even compare. In response, Oladipo sang the first few bars of the chorus to the Pointer Sisters' 1982 hit "I'm So Excited."