The Orlando Magic topped Flamengo on Wednesday, 106-88, improving to 3-1 in the preseason. Our Zach Oliver offers these takeaways. - ED
Domination in the paint
Continuing a trend they set in their first three preseason matchups, the Magic had little trouble scoring in the painted area Wednesday. Orlando outscored visiting Flamengo, 56-38, in the paint, including a lopsided 22-6 in the opening quarter. While they were only able to score 16 points there in the following two quarters, they finished strong, outscoring the Brazilian side, 18-6, in the fourth quarter.
"Well, I think it started early," said coach Jacque Vaughn when asked about his teams success there. "I think, whether it's Nik [Vucevic] establishing himself, and we've talked about having the ability to get to the rim. We want to be aggressive and make it tough on the opponents and part of that is driving the basketball. And sometimes it won't look pretty, but overall we want to be aggressive in what we do."
After averaging 38.1 points per game in the paint last season, it's good to see the Magic attacking at a high rate. They have the personnel to get to the rim when they want, and with the free-flowing style offense they expect to run, they could see many attempts in the paint every night.
Green makes Magic debut
After missing the first three contests with a hyperextended left knee, offseason pickup Willie Green made his preseason debut with the team. Green, who started at shooting guard, finished the night with 11 points in just under 20 minutes of action.
Coach Vaughn was impressed with Green's debut. "I thought he was good on both ends of the floor," said Vaughn, who also praised Green's work on defense: "He gave us a physicality on the defensive end of the floor. He communicates, he helps his teammates."
Overall, Green's play was very encouraging. While his numbers don't jump off the page, his understanding of the offense, and willingness to help his teammates on both ends, will help the team. As the season moves on, his role on the court might end up being minimal, but his impact off the floor could be one of the biggest on the team.
Gordon making strides
Despite coming off the bench for the first time this preseason, the electrifying rookie Aaron Gordon had arguably his best game yet. His 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and one block represented preseason highs for the Arizona product, and he was able to show off his great motor on both ends of the floor. His strong performance was the next step for the rookie to take, and just a glimmer into what the team could get from him as he continues to develop.
Coach Vaughn was again happy with what he saw from his top pick. "I just think overall he's continuing to learn," said Vaughn. "It's his fourth game. And only the third, fourth, or whatever game this is for our guys, and different situations are presenting themselves. What you do feel is his aggressiveness on the floor, whether it's going for an offensive rebound or playing post defense."
Gordon brings a lot of good tools to the table, and will obviously continue to grow as the season wears on. While his shot is still somewhat of an issue, his motor and instincts on both ends are going to keep him on the floor, especially early in the season. The sky is the limit for Gordon, and he's just getting started.