As the Kings win 121-107 it is another tough watch for Magic fans, falling woefully short against the NBA’s worst defensive team.
THE OPENING QUARTER
Harrison Barnes opened the scoring for the Kings with a couple of made 3, responded to by the Magic from Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon. The leagues worst defence started well with 2 blocks and restricting Orlando to 3 of 11 shooting.
Orlando chipped into the 11 point lead the Kings had built. Khem Birch was playing with energy and aggression on both ends. As the quarter closed a bad turnover led to Buddy Hield hitting a late 3 to extend the lead back out.
Orlando shot 31% from the field in the quarter, trailing 32-23 at the buzzer.
INTO THE SECOND QUARTER
The Kings defensive play was becoming less effective as Orlando lived off some early offensive rebounds and second chance points. Despite that Orlando were still not shooting well, missing good open looks. The positive was seeing Terrence Ross starting to show signs of firing.
Nikola Vucevic and Cole Anthony connected on successive 3s but the Kings kept hitting scores, seeing them back with an 11 point lead with 4:16 remaining in the half.
A 10-0 scoring run saw Sacramento take a 17 point lead with one minute remaining, the largest of the night.
At the half Orlando had shot only 37% and a rested Kings team looked effective, having hit 9 shots from beyond the arc. Sacramento had led from the start, taking a 65-50 advantage at the interval.
THE THIRD QUARTER
Orlando started the quarter like a team who’d got the treatment from Coach Clifford. Sadly it didn’t continue. The Kings responded seeing the Magic making a lot of early fouls, getting into the bonus with 7:27 remaining in the quarter.
The Kings were playing solid basketball on both ends of the court as they pushed the lead to 22. Slowly Orlando began to chip away at the lead again, in part on the back of more high energy Birch play.
However, the Kings kept going making it back to a 19 point lead at quarters end by 96-77.
INTO THE FOURTH
A big final quarter was needed to pull back the deficit. Steadily the lead was cut, dropping it to 12.
Again the Sacramento response was in the form of Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes for 8 quick points. With a little over 7 minutes Orlando were down by 20.
Having failed to cut the lead to single digits with a shade under 2 minutes remaining Coach Clifford waved the white flag. By the final buzzer the scoreline saw the Kings win 121-107.
THE FINAL SCORE – THE KINGS WIN 121-107
ON THE NIGHT
Orlando drop to a season record of 8-11, moving back to 9th in the East.
In a game against the worst defensive team in the NBA questions have to be asked about this performance. Sacramento held the lead from the opening seconds to the final buzzer.
Orlando never had an effective answer for their starting 5 or for a returning Hassan Whiteside. Whenever the Magic showed signs of a recovery those 5 players always found an answer.
A telling stat on the night was the number of points from turnovers. Sacramento scored 23 points from the 14 Orlando made. From the Kings 15 turnovers the Magic could only conjure 8 points.
Too many Orlando fouls gave the Kings 17 points and it could have been much worse as they missed a further 9 from the charity stripe.
They matched Orlando on defensive rebounds and steals.
There is an argument to say that Sacramento had a huge advantage over Orlando, even before a ball was tipped. Having five nights off allowed for rested legs. Having an opportunity to actually practice and address issues is huge. That time did tell in the game.
DISCONTENT AS THE KINGS WIN 121-107
Defeats against teams like Sacramento, New York and Charlotte, along with the manner of that in Indiana have hurt Orlando’s standing. This is in no way meant to be disrespectful any opponent. It is a critique of Orlando. Repeatedly, in seasons past struggling teams have broken losing streaks against Orlando. Bad offences have been able to get a foothold in games. Poor defence has been allowed to become effective. To be successful that is a trait a team can not have attached to their name.
It is also understandably stirring up discontent amongst fans.
At times the body language on display last night from players in Magic blue has some fans online questioning the players commitment. Questions of blowing it up and the benefits of tanking are also being voiced loudly.
Next up for Orlando is the visit of the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
History is not a friend when it comes to the Clippers. Orlando last won on November 6th 2013! The Clippers have taken 13 straight games since that time. The visit of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is a daunting task but one that must be faced by an improved attitude.