The Orlando Magic on Sunday picked up one of the most impressive victories of the post-Dwight Howard era, crushing the Brooklyn Nets by a 107-86 final. Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vučević led the Magic with 19 points apiece, and four other Orlando players scored in double-digits.
Orlando has won consecutive games for the first time since December 2012. Here's a look at some of the stories that developed on the night.
Raves for Oladipo
Oladipo had the best game of his young NBA career Sunday, pouring in 19 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals on 8-of-13 shooting. In one five-minute stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters, the Indiana product imposed his will on the game, shooting 5-of-6 from the floor for 12 points as Orlando extended its lead from nine to 21 points.
"He's a talented rookie," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "He's everything that he's been built up to be, and his future is very bright."
On the downside, Oladipo committed seven turnovers. But Magic coach Jacque Vaughn was encouraged to see that Oladipo responded in a major way from an uninspiring first half.
"This is a rookie who has been thrown into the fire," Vaughn said, notably using the passive voice. "He comes in at halftime, he's throwing a few passes away, and he doesn't worry about it. He goes back out there and gives effort and energy for his teammates and he makes a difference in the second half for us."
In 12 first-half minutes, Oladipo shot 2-of-6 from the floor for five points, with four turnovers.
One angle with which to approach Sunday's game is to view it as a matchup of David versus Goliath, only in this instance Goliath has brass knuckles that cost thrice as much as David's slingshot. The seeming disparity in talent, to say nothing of the very real differences in the payrolls of each team, make the Magic's victory more remarkable.
Each player in the Nets' starting lineup has made at least one All-Star team. Two of those players, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, are surefire Hall-of-Famers. But the Magic did not wilt from Brooklyn's high-wattage lineup.
"It just doesn't matter," Magic big man Kyle O`Quinn said. "We just go out there and play." O'Quinn, who was five years old when Garnett made his NBA début, credited Magic coach Jacque Vaughn for keeping the team focused.
"I give a lot of credit to Coach because he just drills it in us to go out there and play," O'Quinn said. "It's so embedded in your brain that you don't even realize who you're playing against sometimes."
The Nets beat the Magic four times in 2012/13, this group's first year together. Vaughn said his team's united approach helped it secure the victory.
"If we played them one-on-one the majority of the nights, we'll lose," Vaughn said. "But if we come with a collective-responsibility approach, we have a chance and our guys did that on both ends of the floor."
Pace a factor
The Magic have prioritized getting out in transition as much as possible in the new season, resulting in an estimated 96 possessions in Sunday's win. The ability to attack quickly helps Orlando's offense.
"Our best form of execution is playing with a little pace," Afflalo said. "[That means] getting the necessary stops that we need and then trying to get out and get some easy baskets before the defense is actually set."
At least one of his teammates agreed.
"I think that's something we have to do," said Vučević. "We're a young team so we gotta be able to run, and we got guys that can do that, so we definitely try to put emphasis on that."
Orlando held a 12-3 advantage in fast-break points on Sunday and is averaging 12 fast-break points per game through four games. In its first season under Vaughn, Orlando ranked 25th in that category, with just 9.9 fast-break points per game.