The Orlando Magic suffered an embarrassing letdown in their first game after the All-Star Break, as the lowly Sacramento Kings, playing without franchise combo guard Tyreke Evans, soundly outplayed them on their way to earning a 111-105 victory. Dwight Howard (31 points, 17 rebounds) and Hedo Turkoglu (19 points, 8 assists) played magnificently for Orlando, but didn't have enough to overcome iffy performances from most of their teammates. Also worrisome for Orlando? The Kings won the game with a near-flawless fourth quarter, outscoring the Magic by a 32-21 margin in stunning fashion.
Jermaine Taylor, who hails from nearby Tavares and starred at UCF prior to going pro, led Sacrameto with a career-best 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Backcourt-mate Beno Udrih had 18 points and 10 assists, while role-playing bigs Jason Thompson and Samuel Dalembert combined for 34 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. Each King who logged more than 8 minutes played exceptionally well.
The Magic? Not so much. Not at all, even. Besides Howard and Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson had 15 points (but 5 turnovers) and J.J. Redick rifled in 12 on 5-of-10 shooting. The other players didn't contribute, with Brandon Bass going 2-of-6 and Jason Richardson continuing to slump his way to an 8-point outing on 4-of-12 shooting.
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
After the loss, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said, "I don't know how much more complete you can be in playing poorly." As the table above shows, he's on the money. The Kings, a below-average defensive team, made the Magic worse than their season averages in each of the four factors. Orlando had its moments--a 20-4 run to erase a Kings lead which had grown to 11 in the first half is its highlight--but overall played worse than one of the league's doormats.
A Nelson-to-Richardson alley-oop dunk in transition gave the Magic a 12-point lead, their largest of the night, with 4:26 remaining in the third quarter; they appeared to be on a roll. But as television color commentator Matt Guokas points out, the Magic let up after that, perhaps hoping the Kings would simply fold. If that's the case, Orlando badly underestimated Paul Westphal's squad, which closed on a 13-6 run, building momentum toward a fourth quarter in which it took control.
To be fair to Orlando, Sacramento scored on some broken plays late in the game... but it still scored. Dalembert got back-to-back buckets off off-target passes from Udrih, including a long, contested hook shot just before the shot-clock expired. Udrih followed those baskets with a layup to give the Kings a 104-100 lead with 1:52 remaining. The rest of the game, the Magic managed only a long Nelson two-pointer and a too-little, too-late Turkoglu three.
Perhaps one could argue this game was simply a result of Orlando being sluggish after the All-Star Break. We won't know how true that is until Friday, when it hosts the Oklahoma City Thunder. But to get beat in this way, by a team this bad, is hardly an encouraging sign. On the other hand, the Magic won four of their five games heading into the Break. We'll see which team shows up Friday.