On Friday afternoon, Victor Oladipo was cleared by doctors to play, and was upgraded to questionable. Friday night, he made his much anticipated debut against the Milwaukee Bucks….and shined.
The Orlando Magic started off unusually lethargic. The starting five of Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris, Channing Frye, and Nikola Vucevic just didn’t seem themselves. Brandon Knight of the Bucks looked like Ray Allen, as he was getting whatever he wanted en route to a 21-8 lead before the Magic found their groove and ended the quarter on a 17-9 run to trim the lead to single digits.
Oladipo made his debut in the second quarter and would change the game for the better. In his first four minutes, he scored five points and grabbed two boards. What he brought to the team had an intangible effect. They played better offensively and defensively. From giving up 42 points in the paint to the Bucks in the first half, to giving up just 14 in the second, Oladipo’s presence made a real difference for the Magic. Fans were also treated to some great sequences from Aaron Gordon in his limited action, outplaying the second-overall 2014 pick, Jabari Parker with his defense on teammate Giannis, and his energy.
The Bucks would not go down without a fight however. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks would string together a comeback, but were unable to bring the Magic’s lead under seven thanks in large part to Tobias having a strong game. The Magic would go on to roll over the Bucks 101-85
Tobias Harris led the Magic with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Nik Vucevic had 18 points and nine boards. Evan Fournier, who struggled at first, finished strong with 15 points. Victor Oladipo in his first game back finished with 13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists.
The Magic head back on the road for a rematch against John Wall and the Washington Wizards on Saturday