A matchup of 0-3 teams is not usually tantalizing to hoop fans, but the game between the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans was. With New Orleans, you have a top three player in the Association in Anthony Davis who is making his case to be number one. For Orlando, a stable of young, athletic talent looking to take the next step in their development and earn a playoff spot for the first time in three seasons. The Magic got the better of it, with a 103-94 win for their first W of 2015.
Here are 5 key takeaways from Tuesday night’s victory:
1. The Magic can dominate the paint, even when they’re playing against one of the league’s best big men.
Coming into Tuesday’s game, Orlando averaged 48 points a game inside. Against New Orleans, they got 56, 10 of those on fast breaks, created by 14 Pelican turnovers. Nikola Vucevic got the better of the big man matchup with Davis (14 its, 9 rebs.) He scored 22 points on 10/21 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds for his 2nd consecutive double-double.
2. The Magic have several scoring options.They’ve had 3 different leading scorers in their 4 games. Victor Oladipo had 17 game one against the Washington Wizards, Tobias Harris with 30 in the game two double overtime thriller versus the OKC Thunder, and Evan Fournier has led the team twice. 19 against the Chicago Bulls and a career high 30 on 12/20 shooting, 4/9 from 3 point land versus the Pelicans.Head coach Scott Skiles’ squad also produced 22 points off the bench. That helped them hit their season average of 103 points per game.
3. They still commit too many turnovers.
The Magic handed New Orleans the ball 18 times on the night, 12 times in the first half alone. On the season they’re averaging 17 a game. But, I guess that’s to be expected from a young team. The positive is that they cut out those mistakes in the second half, allowing them to escape the 504 with the W.
4. Dwayne Dedmon and Aaron Gordon need more playing time.
The Magic were +10 in the 12 minutes he played. Against New Orleans he had 6 points, 4 rebounds, a block and changed several other shots at the rim. I sincerely believe Dedmon can be groomed into a Tyson Chandler/DeAndre Jordan type of player. A hustle & heart player who can clean the offensive and defensive glass, hold his ground in the post on defense, block and change shots and get easy dunks on the offensive end. Let me make this clear, he’s nowhere near that yet. But, remember what they were at this stage of their career.
Orlando was also +3 in Gordon’s 4:28 minutes of action. In the first two games of the season he was seeing key minutes and was very active on both the offensive and defensive backboards, while contributing effectively on the offensive end. On the season he’s averaging 10.3 ppg and grabbing 5.7 rpg in 19.7 minutes.
5. The Magic have had double-digit leads in three of their first four games.
On Tuesday, Orlando led by as many as 18 points, and 17 at the half. But, they allowed New Orleans to cut it to 6 midway through the 3rd, and led by only 9 going into the fourth.
The positive, unlike against Washington and OKC, every time the Pelicans cut the lead to single digits, the Magic pushed the lead back to double digits before winning by 9. They’ve clearly learned from the mistakes made in those first two games.
Next up for Orlando, James Harden, former Magic superstar Dwight Howard and the 1-3 Houston Rockets, Wednesday night in Southeast Texas.