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Third quarter plagues Magic despite win

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The Magic have been one of the worst teams in the third quarter this season.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In the standings, the Orlando Magic got the win on Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. While winning in the NBA isn’t easy, no matter who the opponent is, Wednesday’s win against the short handed Pelicans is one the Magic will soon want to forget.

From the start they appeared flat and lifeless, struggling to score just seven points in the opening half of the first quarter. While they were able to find some life and get things going later in the quarter, and into the second quarter, their inability to play consistent, high energy offense in the second half almost cost them the game.

As has been the case multiple times this season, they came out lifeless in the second half, seeing the Pelicans, without Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, get back into it, cutting the lead down to two early in the third quarter, and taking the lead briefly in the opening portion of the fourth.

“Stay with it,” said Frank Vogel about how they were able to overcome losing momentum out of the half. “Keep grinding [on] the defensive end. When your shots not falling, like ours has been in the last couple games, you rely on your defense.

“That’s what we’re trying to build here, a team that can win even when the offense isn’t clicking and that’s what were able to do.”

The struggles are all too common for the Magic, who hold the fourth worst net rating in the third quarter this season at -14.1 points per 100 possessions. Those struggles have cost them multiple games this season, but the players are unable to fully pinpoint why they’re struggling.

Nikola Vucevic, who came up with two big buckets late in the game, said the team likely lacked energy, which allowed the Pelicans to get back into it. Vucevic also talked about how the team needs to get the message across the board of playing less selfishly on the offensive end, moving the ball and finding the good, open shots every time.

The lack of ball movement has definitely hurt the Magic in third quarters this season. Players get antsy and try playing one-on-one, and killing any and all movement the offense may have had, leading to more and more struggles.

“Not 100 percent sure,” said Aaron Gordon when asked about the third quarter struggles. “I know we need to start scoring at a higher pace. That’s something that each individual player needs to improve on and bring it to the game”

Despite the win, the Magic still clearly have a long way to go. They put together one of, if not their best performance from tip off to the final buzzer on the defensive end, but their continued inconsistencies offensively plagued them, especially in the third quarter.

It’s a work in progress, but if the Magic want to finally get to the point they hope they can, it needs to start with improved play in the third quarter.