Heading into Thursday’s matchup with New Orleans, the Orlando Magic needed a win in the worst way, and the Pelicans happily obliged.
With their season all but over, the Pelicans rested all of their starters, including rookie sensation Zion Williamson and All-Star Brandon Ingram. The Magic approached this challenge with appropriate caution, building up a 16-point lead at halftime and never letting off of the gas.
Orlando were able to put the Pelicans down early with deadly three-point shooting. The Magic hit 13 of their first 18 threes, good for a 73 percent clip at the half. Nearly everyone took part in the three-point barrage, with eight different players connecting from deep. The Magic finished a white-hot 15-of-28 on the day – exactly what the struggling team needed as they look forward to their playoff matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks.
The most compelling part of this game may have been that it was a chance to watch rarely-seen members of the Magic get real, meaningful minutes. With no Terrence Ross, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Michael Carter-Williams, or Mo Bamba suiting up in pinstripes, Orlando Coach Steve Clifford had to reach deep into his bag of tricks to find useable rotations – and found gold several times.
Of the bench mob, James Ennis, Vic Law, and Melvin Frazier all scored in double figures, with B.J. Johnson and Gary Clark not far behind. It was a team effort and each of these players hit at least one three-pointer.
The scoring prowess of Magic center and former All-Star Nikola Vucevic was on full display, as he made quick work of the undermanned Pelicans’ front court. Vucevic finished a near-perfect 10-of-11 from the floor and 3-of-4 from three on the night for maybe the easiest 23 points of his long career.
Another bright spot for the Magic was young point guard Markelle Fultz. Fultz finished with a team-high +19 and displayed his knack for flashy passing often, directing the cast of Magic role players into easy shots for most of the night.
Speaking of solid point guard play, veteran point guard D.J. Augustin also had a stellar night, checking in at 22 points on 7-of-10 from the floor and a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Fultz and Augustin provided a solid balance to a Magic roster in need, and it was through them that the offense caught fire.
Next up for the Magic will be their playoff matchup with the Bucks, the dates and times of which can be found below: