When the season started, both Orlando and Sacramento were rising teams centered around franchise big men. Now, in mid-March, neither has that supposed franchise centerpiece on their roster, and both are firmly out of the playoff hunt.
With the Kings resting point guard Ty Lawson, small forward Tyreke Evans, former Magic man Arron Afflalo, and big man Kosta Koufos, it seemed to be an easy win in the bag for the Magic. The Kings, however, would have other plans.
It all started with a 10-run by Sacramento that gave them a 79-73 lead in the third quarter. From there, indecision and sloppy ball handling would sink the Magic’s offense.
During this same time period, the Kings would catch fire from deep, hitting six of their nine tries.
Though the Magic would tie the game at 109 with just under two minutes left in the game, they would never lead again. The Kings hit two straight buckets to secure their 26th win, and the Magic’s 44th loss.
As strange as it sounds, Anthony Tolliver was a gamebreaker for the Kings. Seemingly every time the Magic began to make progress, Tolliver would sink a three to bury the Magic back into a deficit. The 31-year-old forward scored 19 points and tie a career-high with five made triples.
The Kings hit 16 threes in total at a 53 percent clip. They finished with 7 players in double figures, with Tolliver and Darren Collison tying at 19 as their co-leaders.
With this win, Sacramento broke an eight-game losing streak, and secured their second win since trading Demarcus Cousins on February 19th.
As for the Magic, the familiar crop of issues were once again their downfall. Though they would hit 13 three-pointers, which tied for their third-highest output of the season, the offense still looked anemic at times. When they had a lead, they didn’t do enough to shut the door on the Kings, who would use that hope to fuel their comeback.
Against a Kings team that is possibly the least talented in the league when not resting its starters, the Magic coughed up 15 turnovers, which turned into 18 Kings points. The Kings scored 120 points on 53 percent shooting overall – their second-highest scoring total since losing Cousins.
On a positive note, Magic point guard Elfrid Payton notched 13 points, 10 rebound, and 13 assists, his third triple-double of the season.
Magic center Nikola Vucevic continued his strong play after returning from an Achilles injury. He put up a diverse line, including a game-high 23 points to go along with nine rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and two steals.
The Orlando Magic (24-44) will get little time to learn from this loss, as they will travel to San Francisco to face the Golden State Warriors (52-14) who are now tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the league.