As Nikola Vucevic hits 42 points again the Orlando Magic left everything on the court last night. It was a monumental effort from Orlando that took a much needed win on the second night of a road back-to-back for over Sacramento.
The good news to start the night was that Sacramento had DeAron Fox and Marvin Bagley III absent, resting some minor knocks. That saw two of the Kings leading scorers absent, a boost Orlando needed.
For Orlando they had mustered 9 fit players, so could play the game. A starting line-up of Gary Clark, Dwayne Bacon, James Ennis III and Nikola Vucevic were joined by a returning Michael Carter-Williams. The return of MCW after a 19 game absence was a boost in itself.
THE OPENING QUARTER
Orlando’s first possession saw MCW get an assist to a trailing Nikola Vucevic, hitting the three from the top of the arc. The second play was almost a carbon copy but Vooch could only find the rim.
Inside 3 minutes Orlando were looking at a further potential injury after James Ennis III rolled an ankle after Robinson took his landing space on a three point attempt. Ennis was left limping but hit the free throws and followed that up on the next play, cutting to the basket for a lay-up.
Carter-Williams was using his minutes to be involved in every play on both ends. He and Ennis were all hustle. It was summed up by an Ennis steal on defence that led to a fast break, though the initial lay-up was missed MCW ripped the ball away under the basket and a put back two resulted. Back-to-back three’s from Bacon and Vucevic saw Orlando get a lead back.
A flurry of baskets saw the lead constantly changed. At the quarter close the score was level at 33-33.
INTO THE SECOND QUARTER
The quarter opened with a Terrence Ross 3 from the corner under heavy challenge. Despite the high degree of difficulty on the shot it sailed into the basket for an Orlando lead.
The Kings went on a 10-0 scoring run to grow a 6 point lead.
Mo Bamba had joined the game. He missed his first three field goals and had a turnover but his hustle had resulted in a score, some solid screens and had forced a Kings turnover. Mo also dived onto the floor to claim a lose ball, which resulted in a hustle play from Ennis for another Ross 3 point make. That brought the score to 45-46 with a shade over 7 minutes remaining in the half.
Vooch was not getting any extra defensive attention and had found his shooting game after the previous night’s frustration. He was 10-13 for 23 points at the half. Ross was shooting well also for 13 points.
Orlando led at halftime by 64-59 in a high scoring half.
THE THIRD QUARTER
It was immediately clear that Sacramento had tried to change how they were playing Vooch. One of the League’s worst defensive teams effectively threw anyone available at him. However through a lot of MCW hustle for 10 points, a Gary Clark made 3 and more Ennis effort saw Orlando extend the lead early to 15 points.
On the second night of a back-to-back with limited numbers the Magic effort was incredible. Vooch extended the lead further with a jump shot on which he was fouled.
With a touch over 7 minutes remaining of the quarter James Ennis stole the ball but as he moved up the court he pulled up holding his groin, left the game and headed to the locker room. He did not return and every Magic fan looked to the gods of basketball pleading for them to give us a break!
That set back did not stop Orlando. Back-to-back 3’s from MCW and Vooch (off an Carter-Williams assist) soon followed as the lead grew to 20. This lead was however cut by the Kings to 9 as Orlando went cold for a time.
At the buzzer the score was 97-87 to the Magic.
INTO THE FOURTH
The opening score was from another Carter-Williams assist, laying the ball back to a trailing T-Ross for a 3 from the top of the arc. The Sacramento defence could not deal with the trailing three ball, resulting in further success for Vooch.
Orlando’s defensive effort was superb, typified by Khem Birch.
As Vucevic hits 42 points, almost reaching his career best he was showing why he should be an All-Star. During the final quarter he added 3 consecutive assists to his total.
However Sacramento were not done and fought as they tried to cut into the Magic lead but Orlando were having none of it! The effort of all saw the team leave the building with the win.
THE FINAL SCORE – 123-112
ON THE NIGHT
Orlando’s season record is now 9-17, remaining 13th in the East.
Five Magic players made double figure scoring:
As Nikola Vucevic hits 42 points he again led the team in scoring. Vooch also produced 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
James Ennis scored 10 points and Dwayne Bacon 11.
Michael Carter-Williams having been out for 19 games played over 27 minutes stuffing the stats sheet with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
Orlando did not lose a quarter in scoring. They took care of the ball all night, seeing only 10 turnovers. That is a brilliant stat considering that we are asking players to play out of position at the point.
The defence held one of the NBA’s hottest shooters, Buddy Hield to just 19 points.
Up next on Sunday it is Devon Booker, Chris Paul and DeAndre Ayton as we face the Phoenix Suns. Of course that is again assuming we have 9 fit players!