The Orlando Magic headed into battle with their in-state rivals in Miami wanting to play well on the defensive end of the floor and by all accounts, they did just that. Even with the Miami Heat getting solid contributions from their new big three in limited action — Dwyane Wade posted 11 points, 2 assists, 2 steals. Chris Bosh with 18 points, 9 rebounds. Loul Deng with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists — it was the Magic, without starters Victor Oladipo and Channing Frye, who held the Heat to just 39.4% shooting and just 5-for-32 from the perimeter, and pulled off a close win with balanced offense and aggressive defense. Here’s some takeaways from the game:
Improvements are showing
The Magic’s core guys in Tobias Harris, Nik Vucevic, Maurice Harkless, and Kyle O’Quinn put in a lot of work once again in the off season and it showed. Tobias seemed to be draining every shot he took as he went 6-of-9 from the floor on his way to a 15 point, 7 rebound night. He also made both three-point attempts to go along with three dimes. Nik Vucevic, who is becoming a Heat killer, looked much more comfortable and aggressive in the paint with a team high 16 points and 6 rebounds. Harkless and O’Quinn both ignited the Magic early in the game off the bench. Harkless looked fluid playing off-ball, putting up an efficient 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go with 4 rebounds. Kyle O’Quinn also had a good night with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting to go with 6 rebounds.
The Magic’s 2014 draft class looked impressive in their first NBA action. Elfrid Payton, who the Magic acquired via draft night trade, made his presence felt early. Entering the game in the first quarter, Elfrid would strip the ball from Dwyane Wade, dribble down the court, and dish it off to Harkless for an easy layup. That sequences would be one of many to come. Though he turned the ball over five times and went 1-for-8 shooting, Elfrid put his court vision and playmaking ability on display as the game went on, finishing with seven assists. He was also put in a very unique situation to run the offense in the 4th quarter and in the extra period. His offense will come in time, but it must be refreshing for him to know head coach Jacque Vaughn trusts him to make the right plays in late game situations.
Aaron Gordon is a pup
The youngest player in the draft played like youngest player in the draft, which is expected when your opponent is a 10-year vet in Luol Deng. He struggled early on the game with his offense going 2-for-6 from the floor and spent too much time having to look for Deng moving without the ball on defense. His free-throw shooting is also a work in progress as he also went 2-for-6 from the charity stripe. He did show flashes of his potential as a defensive stopper getting a block on Loul Deng’s driving layup attempt and contesting a potential game winner from rookie Heat point guard, Shabazz Muhammed in overtime. In the wanning seconds of regulation, Gordon would also make a key play. Corralling one of his eight rebounds on the night, and taking it coast to coast to tie the game. He’s a work in progress for sure, but the potential is there for Aaron Gordon.
Devyn Marble a second round gem?
It’s just one game in the preseason, and it’s a cardinal sin to put much stock in what happens in the preseason, but the Magic may have discovered another second round gem in Devyn Marble. Making his debut in the 4th quarter, nailed a driving bank shot and drilled a three-pointer before taking over in overtime. Marble would go on to score eight points to lead the rookies with 13, and dish out two game sealing assists: a lob to Dewayne Dedmon and and a pass to Andrew Nicholson for the jumper. Again it’s just the one game in the preseason but hopefully Marble’s play would be an indication of things to come.