The Orlando Magic’s defensive struggles came to bare again on Friday, as they fell 118-98 to the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. This one was over before the fourth quarter started, with the Pelicans turning 18 Magic turnovers into 22 points, as well as 38 fast break points. The Pelicans would take a lead with 1:25 left in the first quarter and never trail again.
New Orleans cracked 100 points with nearly nine minutes still left in the game, as the once-strong Magic defense surrendered triple digits for the eleventh-straight game. The Pelicans’ twenty-sixth ranked offense finished shooting 49.5 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from three – all this despite a four-and-a-half minute stretch in the third quarter where only seven points were scored by both teams.
That kind of scoring drought would be common for the Magic, who gave up a 17-6 run in the fourth quarter to end any hopes of a comeback.
“Nobody’s happy with how we played tonight”, said Magic head coach Frank Vogel, “I’m not, [the team’s] not, we gotta work together to figure it out.”
Pelicans’ star big man Anthony Davis scored 21 points, and grabbed 14 rebounds – both game highs. The All-Star candidate showed off his skills by dominating the paint, where the Pels scored 54 points.
Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway were the true back breakers for New Orleans, with both logging 18 points, and the pair combining to shoot 8-of-13 from three. Their deadly accuracy kept the Magic defense scrambling, which led to plenty of open looks at the rim.
Though not always effective the Magic offense was diverse, with six players scoring in double figures.
Magic forward Serge Ibaka finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and five blocks – tying a season-high.
Ibaka’s running mate at the small forward position, Aaron Gordon, tied for the team lead in points with 14 to go along with eight rebounds and four assists.
Magic shooting guard Jodie Meeks would leave the game in the second quarter with a dislocated thumb, giving some extra burn to second-year swingman Mario Hezonja. X-rays were negative, but he will need an MRI to check for ligament damage. Meeks finished with five points, four rebounds, and two steals in 16 minutes.
With Evan Fournier already out due to an injured heel, the shooting guard position will be thin when the Magic return home on Friday.
The Orlando Magic (17-27) will have a break from their road woes soon, as they will return to the Amway Center on Friday to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks (20-20). The schedule will only get harder from there, as the league-leading Golden State Warriors will then visit the Magic on Sunday.