The Orlando Magic opened a three-game roadtrip Sunday with a 100-92 loss New Orleans Pelicans.
Anthony Davis crushed the Magic for the second time in as many games in 2013/14, tallying 22 points, a career-high 19 rebounds, and seven blocked shots in an eye-popping performance. Tyreke Evans came off the bench to add 23 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists of his own, getting to the foul line almost at will and disrupting the Magic's defense with his dribble penetration.
Arron Afflalo scored an efficient 25 for the Magic, and Victor Oladipo added 18 with five steals, but their contributions weren't enough against a hot-shooting Pelicans team which also dominated the glass: New Orleans outrebounded the Magic, 48-32, on Sunday.
Harris helped get the Magic get off to a strong start by getting into the lane and drawing attention, scoring seven of Orlando's first 17 points as it took a 17-16 lead. But the Pelicans soon took control of the game by running out on the Magic's many turnovers for easy transition scores.
From the 2:55 mark of the first quarter to the 9:17 mark of the second, New Orleans went on a 22-6 run to take a 15-point lead. The same young, athletic lineup--Oladipo, Doron Lamb, Maurice Harkless, Harris, and Kyle O'Quinn--that coach Jacque Vaughn has used lately to bring Orlando energy faltered in this stretch: it proved unable to create good looks in the half-court or to stop the Pelicans on defense.
Once Vaughn returned to his starting unit late in the period, Orlando drew closer, with a Jameer Nelson triple cutting the Pelicans' lead to eight with 20 seconds to play in the half. Evans spun past Orlando's defense for a layup to put the hosts back up by double-digits just before the buzzer, but Orlando had to feel encouraged to be trailing by only 10, given how sloppily it played.
Orlando drew to within four points on an Afflalo layup with 6:15 to play in the third quarter, as close as it'd been since 28 seconds remained in the first. But the Pelicans scored on each of their next four possessions as Orlando went scoreless, building their lead back to 13 points. The Magic's lack of size hurt it throughout the night, but especially on one sequence during that stretch, during which the Pelicans' Davis and Jeff Withey played volleyball on the offensive glass long enough for Withey to tip in a basket.
Consecutive layups from Nelson to close the third brought Orlando to within six points of New Orleans. But Evans took over in the fourth to build a bigger cushion for the home team, scoring each of its first 10 points to build a 10-point lead.
Afflalo then took over for Orlando, scoring six straight points as the Pelicans' offense dried up. The Magic continued their push and drew to within three after a difficult Harris floater over Davis. Afflalo committed turnovers out of the post on each of Orlando's next two trips, the sorts of errors the Magic can't afford to make against most teams if they hope to win.
A one-handed Davis slam over Glen Davis with 1:24 to go put the Pelicans up eight points. That lead shouldn't have been insurmountable--it only represents three possessions, after all--but Orlando was unable to challenge after that play.