Friday night was a scene that has been all too common for the Orlando Magic over the past few years.
Once again watching shots fall off the rim left and right, the Magic quickly found themselves down by double digits. The 10 point deficit quickly ballooned to 20, which rapidly grew to 30, mercifully stopping at 37 in the fourth quarter.
The performance, especially coming off a hard fought victory on Wednesday night against the Miami Heat, was a deflating one for the Magic.
“It was a poor performance on every level,” said Evan Fournier after the 32-point loss. “You can’t have nights like that. It’s going to happen, but it’s got to be once or twice a year, that’s it. We blew a choker already.”
The performance as a whole was poor, as Fournier pointed out, but the offense was, arguably, the worst part.
Lacking any type of flow, the Magic got shut down early and often, and were never able to dig their way out of the hole. Shots were being forced left and right, and the misses quickly piled up, with the Magic shooting a mere 38.3 percent from the field, and 19.4 percent from beyond the arc.
“It gets back to one thing: offensive purpose of play,” said coach Steve Clifford. “That’s what we have to try to fix here before we get on the floor tomorrow night.”
The poor play on offense, quickly turned into poor play on defense, leading to easy buckets for the Hornets.
After giving up 51 points in the first half, and the Magic allowed 69 in the second, including 38 in the fourth quarter. Their inability to see the bucket go through the rim finally caught up with them, and it took a lot out of them.
“The second half, when we couldn’t score, we stopped defending,” said Clifford. “This wasn’t effort or energy level. I mean, our defense in the first half was very good, it’s an offensive thing which, you know, when you don’t score, it can take the juice out of a group, and to me, that’s what happened before I watch the film.”
Finding a way to keep the energy level up on the defensive end, even when the offense isn’t going the way they want it to, will be a key for the Magic. Not having a player that can really go out and get you a bucket, when needed, means the Magic need to continue to move the ball, and find penetration, even when things aren’t going well.
That was simply something they did not do on Friday night, and it showed, not only in their shooting percentage, but also, inevitably, the quality of the shots they got all night.
“Those kind of games are always going to happen,” said Terrence Ross when asked about the lack of shot making. “Shots are not always going to go in, but you’ve still got to figure out a way to get it done.”
The good news for the Magic is they get another chance to bounce back and put together a better game on Saturday night. The Magic will travel to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers, and face their hardest challenge of the early season.
“This is a league where teams can look really good or really bad one night, and come back the next night and look like a completely different team,” said Clifford.
Hopefully the Magic are able to right the ship and correct some of their issues from Friday night, or else they could be in for another long night in Philadelphia.