Davis and The Pelicans No Match for Vucevic

By on December 29, 2015
In a meeting in October, Nikola Vucevic (9) drives on New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. (photo Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports)

In a meeting in October, Nikola Vucevic (9) drives on New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. (photo Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports)

ORLANDO, Fla. – It was a battle of the big men in Orlando, as the Magic (18-13) and Nikola Vucevic bested Anthony Davis’s Pelicans (10-21) by a score of 104-89. Vucevic had possibly his best games of the season, putting up 28 points (14-of-21 shooting), seven assists, and eight rebounds.

Before going to the locker room due to a knee to the groin, Davis was keeping pace. He would finish the night with 20 points (9-of-16), eight rebounds, and two steals despite playing only five minutes in the fourth quarter.

“Obviously, Vucevic is one of the best centers in the league,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, “Great footwork, good touch around the basket, and his ability to spot up and shoot 15 – 18 footers is good.”

Vucevic’s performance came on the heels of the first official NBA All-Star balloting of the year, a list that did not include the Magic center. On his exclusion from the current All-Star team, Vucevic nonchalantly said, “It just started, so there’s still a long way to go.”

The Montenegrin big man was not alone in his conquest of New Orleans, as fellow European Evan Fournier was second on the team with 20 points. He was nearly perfect from beyond the arc, hitting three of his four attempts. He also had four assist and two steals to round out a solid performance across the board.

Besides speaking French to each other on the court, it’s clear that the two have a certain rapport between them. The pair have assisted each other to a combined 49 buckets this season, six of which came against the Pelicans.

Fournier added, “I don’t think it’s a secret now, we have very good chemistry on the floor. We both grew up in Europe, played the same basketball, so we have the same reads on the defense and we always try to find a way to get open shots.”

The Magic as a whole were able to find open shots on Monday, shooting 54% from the floor. They opened the game on a 9-0 run, and went at the inept Pelicans’ defense early and often.

Despite the early hole, the Pels rallied and cut the deficit to just 2 at the end of the first. They would keep it close for the whole first half, and it looked to be a shootout with the Magic up 50-46 at the break.

That would change nearly the instant the third quarter started, as the Magic would push the lead to 10 in just over two minutes. Gentry quickly pulled his second half group and replaced them with the starters, but they would never find they offensive rhythm they enjoyed in the first half.

This was compounded by Davis’s injury, which happened at the end of the third. Magic guard Victor Oladipo drove to the hoop from the left side, and caught a leaping Davis right in the groin. The superstar collapsed in a way that made it look like he might not get up, and was soon surrounded by his team and their doctors. Though there are certainly longer-lasting injuries, this one would appear to keep him out for most of the remainder of the game.

Also registering quiet, but effective games were Magic forwards Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson. Harris scored 14 points, and displayed his athleticism with two rim-rattling dunks. He also collected nine rebounds. Nicholson had 13 off the bench, and the play of the night: a one handed dunk that sailed over Jrue Holiday for an and-one.

The Magic (18-13) will look to continue their winning ways against the reeling Brooklyn Nets at home on Wednesday before hitting the road. This road trip will see them matched up against their peers in the Eastern Conference: the Wizards, Cavs, and Pistons on Friday, Saturday, and Monday respectively.

New Orleans Pelicans
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
Anthony Davis, PF 28 9-16 0-2 2-5 2 6 8 1 2 1 2 1 -12 20
Alonzo Gee, SF 16 1-3 0-1 0-0 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 2 -15 2
Omer Asik, C 15 1-2 0-0 0-2 1 4 5 0 0 0 1 2 -13 2
Eric Gordon, SG 24 1-6 1-5 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 -13 3
Tyreke Evans, SG 30 6-12 2-2 2-2 2 2 4 8 0 0 1 3 -19 16
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
Ryan Anderson, PF 23 1-8 0-4 1-1 1 2 3 4 0 0 1 0 -1 3
Dante Cunningham, PF 18 2-6 0-2 0-0 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 2 +3 4
Kendrick Perkins, C 15 2-3 0-0 0-0 2 2 4 1 0 0 1 2 -3 4
Alexis Ajinca, C 13 2-2 0-0 3-3 0 3 3 0 0 2 0 2 -4 7
Norris Cole, PG 30 8-14 1-2 0-0 1 7 8 3 1 0 4 1 -6 17
Jrue Holiday, PG 26 4-10 1-2 2-2 0 2 2 4 1 1 1 0 +5 11
Toney Douglas, PG 2 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 +3 0
Luke Babbitt, SF DNP COACH’S DECISION
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
37-83 5-20 10-15 10 32 42 23 5 5 13 15 89
44.6% 25.0% 66.7%
Fast break points:   8
Points in the paint:   44
Total Team Turnovers (Points off turnovers):   13 (13)
+/- denotes team’s net points while the player is on the court.

Orlando Magic

STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
Channing Frye, PF 23 1-4 1-3 0-0 0 3 3 5 2 1 0 2 +21 3
Tobias Harris, SF 37 5-8 1-2 3-3 1 8 9 4 0 0 0 1 +19 14
Evan Fournier, SF 33 7-12 3-4 3-3 0 2 2 4 2 0 1 0 +18 20
Nikola Vucevic, C 37 14-21 0-1 0-1 0 8 8 7 0 0 2 2 +14 28
Elfrid Payton, PG 22 3-5 0-0 0-0 0 3 3 0 0 0 2 0 +14 6
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
Aaron Gordon, PF 11 3-5 0-1 1-1 1 3 4 0 0 0 0 0 -4 7
Jason Smith, PF 13 2-3 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 1 1 0 0 3 -5 4
Andrew Nicholson, PF 21 6-10 1-2 0-3 1 4 5 1 1 0 0 2 +3 13
Devyn Marble, SF 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 -3 0
Dewayne Dedmon, C 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 -3 0
Shabazz Napier, PG 2 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 -3 0
Mario Hezonja, SG 12 2-5 1-3 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 +3 5
Victor Oladipo, SG 26 2-7 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 6 1 0 2 1 +1 4
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
45-82 7-17 7-11 4 33 37 28 7 1 9 14 104
54.9% 41.2% 63.6%
Fast break points:   0
Points in the paint:   58
Total Team Turnovers (Points off turnovers):   11 (16)
+/- denotes team’s net points while the player is on the court.

 Flagrant Fouls: None
 Technical Fouls: PLAYERS:1 ORLANDO ( Smith 1 ) -TEAMS: ORLANDO (1) -COACHES:None
 Officials: John Goble, Mark Lindsay, Karl Lane
 Attendance: 17,606
 Time of Game: 2:00

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