When the Magic play from behind

Written by Philip Rossman-Reich on .

David Manning/USA TODAY
David Manning/USA TODAY

One thing the Magic have certainly gotten used to the past year and a half is being a bit behind on the scoreboard. That is the nice way of putting things.

The team is most definitely going through a rebuild (if you have not heard) with an emphasis on youth and building things through the Draft. That takes a commensurate amount of patience and takes a ton of heartache. The Magic have experienced plenty of that.

What has been even more noticeable in recent games is the Magic having to constantly play from a deficit and play catch up the entire game. 

That is a tough place for a young team to be. Sure, the Magic typically have the energy and the drive to make things a game, but ultimately their depth and inconsistent talent leave them with another loss. Playing from behind is not an easy thing to do and has been a consistent theme throughout the 2014 season.

"I just think we're not happy with our record," Nikola Vucevic said earlier this year (but the sentiment could easily carry over three months later). "We're not doing stuff consistently. We've shown when we can do it, we're a pretty good team. We have some good wins. When we play the right way, we defend, we play hard the whole game, we start right, when we start the game right then it's a lot easier to play because we're right there. When you get down by 20, it's hard to come back."

That tinge of disappointment has not left the team. Sure, the Magic have matched last season's win total with 10 games left in the season, but that has hardly registered with this roster. They wanted a bit more from this season. There is definitely a sense that they have left games out there.

And having to make these extreme comebacks is not helping matters.

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Ads likely coming to NBA jerseys

Written by Philip Rossman-Reich on .

Last week, commissioner Adam Silver was at a sports business conference sponsored by IMG and the hot-button issue of advertisements on jerseys came up. Unlike David Stern, Silver has spoken very openly about his league since taking over as commissioner and has shown an open mind to doing business in new ways.

That includes putting advertisements on jerseys. Something he estimated would happen within the next five years.

It just creates that much more of an opportunity for our marketing partners to get that much closer to our fans and to our players,” Silver said at the conference, put on by the Sports Business Daily/Journal. “It gives us an opportunity just to have deeper integration when it comes to those forms of sponsorship.

This is not surprising. It has been something that has been under discussion for quite some time yet has met resistance from American fans.

The potential revenue streams are just too much to overlook at this point. MLS and the WNBA have already gone to advertisements on jerseys.

It does not appear a jersey like the one above where the team name is completely replaced with a brand name or advertisement. They likely will go with patches similar to the ones used on practice jerseys currently.

The reality is that something like this will happen sooner rather than later. Might as well just accept it now.

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Victor Oladipo has lost the ROY pace?

Written by Philip Rossman-Reich on .

Magic fans have had one wondering eye on the Rookie of the Year race as Victor Oladipo was the preseason favorite to win the award. How could you argue when you see plays like this one:

Unfortunately, consistency has been an issue for Oladipo and the gap between him and Michael Carter-Williams does seem to have gotten too wide.

As I noted last week, Victor Oladipo has been a bit slow coming out of his injury. He has picked things up including last night's energetic performance, but the two-week stretch where he was struggling to score efficiently and the team was struggling to win were emblematic of the consistency issues Oladipo has had as a rookie. This is not a bad thing, just makes it difficult to win the Rookie of the Year against a solid player like Michael Carter-Williams.

The Sixers' rookie has had the advantage because he is used to playing point guard and has had the ball in his hands from the very beginning of the season. This is a player using nearly a quarter of his team's possessions as a rookie.

As I wrote for Crossover Chronicles, Carter-Williams has left a sliver open, but it will be tough for Oladipo to make up the gap:

When it comes to winning the coveted award though, it has been widely assumed Michael Carter-Williams wrapped it up at the beginning of the season. He put in the killer performances early on in the year. He had a recent triple double at Madison Square Garden. And, frankly, no one cares the goings on at the bottom of the standings.

Oladipo had a lot of ground to make up and Carter-Williams has left some window for him to make up that ground.

Sorry for killing that dream. The numbers just seem to make it difficult to fathom Oladipo overtaking Carter-Williams. Not without a lot more press in Oladipo's favor and a few more stellar games -- a triple double would be nice.

This is not to say Oladipo has not performed well this season. He has had a fantastic rookie campaign and has shown a lot of promise for the Magic's future. He is certainly part of the bigger picture at this point.

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Magic recaptured in win over Blazers

Written by Philip Rossman-Reich on .

David Manning/USA TODAY
David Manning/USA TODAY

There were times the Magic looked a bit listless and tired on their West Coast trip. Leads slipped away and margins grew as the frustration of a team hungry for some success simmered. It was bottled up and ready to burst as the team arrived in Orlando on Monday morning from the West Coast trip some time around five in the morning.

As the ball tipped off Tuesday night at Amway Center, you could tell there was energy just ready to creap over and burst through. Either that or a growing sense of fatigue as the team drifts through the final 10 games of the season.

This team is the former and not the latter. Portland, a team drifting its own way, found that out the hard way with each Victor Oladipo cut to the rim, with each Nikola Vucevic post up and each Tobias Harris pull-up jumper.

The ultimate energy play for Orlando came in the second quarter when Oladipo dropped Mo Williams with a crossover and drove in on Robin Lopez to finish a difficult and-1 layup. It was one of several highlights from the rookie who made his impact on the game with his energy, if not his efficiency.

The energy flowed throughout as the Magic avoided a second 10-game losing streak with a 95-85 win over the Blazers at Amway Center on Tuesday night.

  Score Off. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
Portland 85 91.9 41.3 32.0 13.8 19.8
Orlando 95 102.5 47.1 32.0 12.9 25.9

Everyone made a contribution with NIkola Vucevic scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, including 10 in the first quarter as Orlando established a paint presence early. Tobias Harris had 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting, pulling up for jumpers at will and hitting two of his three 3-point attempts. He also added 11 rebounds.

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Top Draft prospects make early exit from NCAA Tournament

Written by Philip Rossman-Reich on .

Well, if you were interested in seeing more Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, you might have to wait until Summer League to do so.  Both Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, the expected 1-2 in the NBA Draft, bowed out of the NCAA Tournament in the first weekend with some very poor performances this weekend. In all likelihood, fans have seen their last of the phenomenal freshmen before they declare for the NBA Draft in June.

Both had solid seasons, but it is also clear they are freshmen and they have a lot of growth to do. Parker looked to be the more complete of the two players and had games where he absolutely took over. Wiggins still looked like a bundle of potential in a raw player. But he went on crazy scoring runs and took over for his team.

The criticism of both after this weekend's games was that they shrunk from the moment and failed to demand the ball. Of course, they are 18 year olds and freshmen to boot. They can learn how to demand the ball as they gain confidence and a realization that you do not need to be the oldest player to be a leader and dominant player.

It takes time. This weekend's games are not likely to matter much in the long run -- not after the great seasons they turned in the past five months.

It is clear that Wiggins and Parker are the top guys. For a recent five-on-five panel I participated in over at Orlando Magic Stuff, all of us Magic bloggers took one or the other as our top guy (in fact, I was the only one to take Parker).

Not helping matters either is that Magic fan favorite for the WoNK pick, Tyler Ennis, also departed from the NCAA Tournament in the first weekend.

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Recapping Day 2 NCAA Tournament action in Orlando

Written by Philip Rossman-Reich on .

While the Magic were losing on the West Coast, the NCAA Tournament took over Amway Center for an exciting and energetic weekend at the Amway Center.

Florida and Louisville advanced from their pods in Orlando to reach the Sweet Sixteen. The two favorites to reach the Final Four (and coincidentally, my national championship game) did not play their best basketball at the Amway Center, but they survived and advanced.

It was a great atmosphere at the Amway Center on Saturday afternoon. Probably one of the loudest basketball games played at Amway Center as Florida fans packed the arena to see the local team play. It might as well have been a home game for the Gators and it was.

Amway Center saw a sell out for the NCAA Tournament Third Round games between Florida and Pittsburgh and Louisville and Saint Louis.

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Fantasy Perspectives: Comparing Victor Oladipo and Dwyane Wade

Written by Justin Becker, Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues on .

Rob Foldy/USA TODAY
Rob Foldy/USA TODAY

In the 2013 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic selected guard Victor Oladipo with the second overall pick. He is a combo guard who succeeded in college due to his intense athleticism and defensive prowess. It’s a description that could have been applied to another player coming out of college 10 years ago, Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade.

When the Heat drafted Dwyane Wade in 2003, they knew they were getting a combo guard as well and experimented with him as their point guard during his rookie season. That is something the Orlando has tried with Oladipo this season. At point guard, Oladipo can be compared to the Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, but as a shooting guard he can be compared to Dwyane Wade.

Let’s take a look at how similar both Oladipo and Wade are in their rookie seasons.

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Magic run in place against Lakers

Written by Philip Rossman-Reich on .

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY

When the Lakers came to Orlando about a month ago, confidence was oozing from this Magic team. They were running on the break and dictating tempo. They were moving the ball and hitting shots. They were confident and had swagger about them.

After the Magic visited Los Angeles, you would hardly know that was the same team with the same players.

The team that just completed an 0-4 West Coast swing and was officially eliminated from Playoff contention (as long a shot as that might be) does not have that same sureness about it. The confidence is gone and there seems to be few positives to take from each loss. Not from a team perspective.

Orlando fell behind again and fought back to make things close. Just never close enough to take the lead or score a win. The Magic's defense let them down as Jordan Hill turned in a career-best performance and Nick Young paced the Lakers off the bench for a 103-94 win at Staples Center on Sunday.

  Score Off. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
Orlando 94 97.4 48.8 32.5 18.3 20.7
L.A. Laker 103 103.3 50.0 17.5 13.1 36.3

The Lakers beat the Magic to several loose balls -- except for Dewayne Dedmon -- and made the big shots they needed to hold off the Magic.

Orlando's perimeter defense seemed a step slow containing dribble penetration from Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young and Kent Bazemore. Their half-court offense worked smoothly, particularly using the pick and roll. Los Angeles' shooters kept Orlando more than honest.

Los Angeles shot 46.3 percent from the floor and scored 46 points in the paint. They made their jumpers too, hitting 6 of 16 3-pointers. The Lakers just made shots when they had to and got offensive rebounds as the game got tight at the end.

Nick Young more or less iced the game to give the Lakers a nine-point lead with a desperation pull-up 3-pointer from the top of the key as the shot clock expired. It was one of the times the Magic played some decent defense. That one time it did not matter.

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Magic to honor Grant Hill at Tuesday's game

Written by Philip Rossman-Reich on .

Fernando Medina/Getty Images/Orlando Pinstriped Post
Fernando Medina/Getty Images/Orlando Pinstriped Post

As part of the Magic's ongoing Legends Night series in honor of the franchise's 25th Anniversary, the Magic will honor former Magic All Star Grant Hill at Tuesday's game between the Magic and the Trail Blazers.

Hill will be recognized between the first and second quarters with a video tribute and presentation at center court. He will then join the Fox Sports Florida telecast for parts of the second quarter. Hill will also be on Magic Drive Time with Dante Marchitelli on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. on 740TheGame in Orlando.

Grant Hill signed with the Magic in 2000 after the team cleared cap room through the Heart & Hustle team. He was to join Tracy McGrady and be part of a new Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen style backcourt to dominate the Eastern Conference. Even with Tim Duncan deciding not to join the Magic's new super team, many believed the pairing would be a good one.

Problems arose almost immediately however since Hill came off the airplane on crutches. That would foreshadow seven years in orlando filled with injury after injury.

He played just 18 games in his first two years in Orlando. That put the mantle entirely on Tracy McGrady to carry the team. He did, but only as far as a brief Playoff appearance. Hill never joined him in the postseason.

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Magic sunk by late-game mistakes again

Written by Philip Rossman-Reich on .

Russell Isabella/USA TODAY
Russell Isabella/USA TODAY

Every tenth of a second mattered in the end. Just like every twitch or movement toward the paint that gave Trey Burke that extra space in the corner for his go-ahead 3-pointer.

The little things needed to win. That has been a common refrain in games for the Magic throughout the season. Every time Orlando has a chance to win of late it seems soemthing goes wrong to prevent them from doing so. A foul on a 3-point shooter, a missed layup, a missed free throw, an inbounds violation. Something zany, ordinary and frustrating.

This time it was a combination of things after Victor Oladipo gave the Magic a lead with about a minute to play on a feathery crossover and pull up jumper.

Up by three points, the Magic allowed Derrick Favors to get to the rim very quickly on a pick and roll with 12.5 seconds left. The Jazz quickly fouled Arron Afflalo who split his free throws.

Gordon Hayward took the outlet and drove all the way into the paint (argue about traveling later, folks, it was not called). He sucked in every Magic defender including Maurice Harkless who dug in perhaps a step too much into the paint. Hayward emerged from the other side and fed Trey Burke in the corner.

The rookie calmly drained the 3-pointer, giving the Jazz a one-point lead with 1.9 seconds left.

Orlando could not inbound the ball cleanly to Nikola Vucevic following a timeout. And Afflalo's desperation 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left was no good.

The frustration at the end of these games continued for the Magic. The little things necessary to win tight games escaped them once again as the Jazz held on for an 89-88 win at EnergySolutions Arena on Saturday.

  Score Off. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
Orlando 88 91.1 43.7 15.4 12.7 30.4
Utah 89 93.3 46.0 13.3 14.8 34.7

Orlando had seemingly done everything it needed to do to climb out of another early deficit. The Magic were playing catch up the entire way through the game and only ovvertook the Jazz in the late stages of the game.  That is not necessarily a way to work your way to a win, but the Magic put themselves in a position to do so thanks to their effort and their energy.

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