‘Mo-buckets, less problems.
Sorry, I had to get that out of the way; didn’t really know how else to start this. Veteran forward Marreese Speights exploded Monday night for 18 points in 22 minutes for the Magic, including a career-high six three-point field goals. Speights helped lead the Orlando Magic to a 115-99 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Magic were able to clamp down their defense in the second half, holding the Pelicans to a mere 35 points in the final two quarters. This was after Orlando surrendered 40 points to the Pelicans in the 2nd quarter alone.
Early on, shots were falling for the Magic, but they had absolutely no answer for All-Star forward Anthony Davis. Davis had 26 points in the first half on a meager 11 attempts from the field (although he was 10-10 from the line), to go along with three blocked shots and four rebounds. Aaron Gordon in particular seemed to be really struggling with Davis’ length early in the contest, both on the offensive and defensive ends.
Besides lighting up the Magic, Davis was able to get both Gordon and Jonathan Isaac in early foul-trouble. Gordon and Isaac picked up two fouls apiece within the first eight minutes of the contest.
Gordon did get it going in the second quarter, he led the Magic with 10 points in the period. Evan Fournier led the Magic in the first half with 16 points. But the Pelicans took a 64-60 lead into the half.
I wasn’t really sure who the New Orleans Pelicans were heading into this game. I feel like I have even more questions about them after watching them play the final two quarters tonight. DeMarcus Cousins, who posted 10 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 5 assists in the first half, essentially disappeared in the second half. He looked lost defensively at times, and visibly frustrated at others down the stretch in this contest. The Magic held Cousins to 2 points in the second half tonight. Although Cousins finished with a double-double to go along with 7 assists, Orlando was able to force Cousins into 6 turnovers.
Davis is a star. He was the best player on the floor tonight as he finished with 39 points. But the Magic were able to prevent anyone else on the Pelicans from getting anything going in the second half, and were able to pull away behind a 28-15 fourth quarter run.
After struggling to find their touch last night in Charlotte, the Magic got hot once again in New Orleans. Orlando connected on 16 three-point attempts in the game (47%). Evan Fournier finished with 20 points on 7-12 shooting, including 4-7 from 3PT. Nikola Vucevic had a really solid night as well, especially in the second half. Vucevic finished with 20 points and 8 boards. And once again, Jonathon Simmons brought energy and relentlessness off the bench, finishing with 20 points or more for the second night in a row.
But the story of the night was Mo Speights. Besides his shooting of course, Speights provided the Magic with a stabilizing presence that settled things when Gordon and Isaac found themselves in foul trouble.
Games like tonight are why the Magic brought in veterans like Speights and Arron Afflalo. They won’t always play huge roles night-in and night-out. But on any given night, either one of those guys can help the Magic win a game.
Tonight, it was #MoBuckets.
On the second night of a road back-to-back, the Magic ran away from the Pelicans late
‘Mo-buckets, less problems.