Hezonja, Vucevic Shine for Magic in OT Thriller

By on October 22, 2015

 Nikola Vucevic (9) drives on New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. (photo Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports)

Nikola Vucevic (9) drives on New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. (photo Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports)

ORLANDO, Fla – Fresh off of their trip to Rio de Janeiro, the Magic returned home to take on the Pelicans on Wednesday night. The Magic won 110 to 107, but in the preseason, the score is of less importance than the flow of the game. With only one more on the schedule before the start of the regular season, and a new head coach at the helm, these final games are critical in finding out what the team will look like long-term.

For the Magic, this is a season of transition. After four years of non-contention in the post-Dwight era, the team seems ready to take that next step forward. Those dark years brought in a haul of draft picks, including Victor Oladipo (2nd overall), Aaron Gordon (4th), and Elfrid Payton (10th), who the Magic traded for.

After seeing the trio play together last year, the buzz this offseason has been all about this year’s class. “Class” seems a bit broad, Magic fans have been talking about one man: Croatian sensation Mario Hezonja, a 6’8” guard-forward who was an offensive force for Barcelona before coming over in this year’s draft. The trouble is, Coach Scott Skiles has been hesitant to play rookies in the past – and has said this season that every player will have to earn their minutes. On Wednesday, Mario would give fans a glimpse of what the future could be.

The Magic started off the game in control, with seven different players scoring in the first quarter. The offense looked in sync; a successful post game (16 of their 29 points) setting up open shooters from mid-range. At the 5:30 mark, Hezonja checked in and hit his first two shots – both threes – to the delight of the crowd.

The second quarter was an entirely different story. The Magic were outscored 19 to 37, 12 of those came from Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. “That guy is as hard to guard as anyone.” Said Skiles said of Davis, who finished with 33 points on the night. A strength of Davis’s game is the ability to draw fouls, and the Magic sent the Pelicans to the line 20 times in the second quarter alone. On the disappointing quarter, Skiles later said, “We shouldn’t have a bad whole quarter. (Maybe) a bad four or five minute stretch…but when we go 8, 9, 10, 12 minutes where we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing, we have to address that.”

In the third quarter, the Magic got back to the pace of the first, cutting the deficit to 4. Skiles’s squad came with the same plan, and got the same result as before: pounding the paint with forward Tobias Harris and center Nikola Vucevic, but avoiding foul trouble this time. The defining moment of the quarter, and possibly the game came when Harris banged in a shot through contact, completing the three-point play to give the Magic the lead. The previously quiet crowd jumped to their feet, and it felt like rally was on at the Amway.

The fourth was tightly contested, but mostly controlled by the Magic thanks to the inside/outside combo of red-hot Euros. Both Vucevic and Hezonja scored eight, but the did so in very different ways. Vucevic punished the Pelicans, fighting for tips, drawing fouls, and slamming home a dunk bring the fans up once again. Hezonja was a silky smooth sniper, who effortlessly hit a pair of threes and a jumper. It all would’ve been over, if not for the NBA player who is no stranger to being counted out: Nate Robinson. Robinson hit back-to-back threes to bring the Pels within range, and two clutch free throws by Davis tied it up in the final seconds to send the game to overtime.

Overtime wasn’t pretty, with both teams injured and missing key pieces. Scott Skiles stuck with what worked, and let Vucevic take over. The big man scored four in the period to bring him to a team-high total of 24. With a one-point lead, Hezonja grabbed an offensive rebound and dished it to forward Evan Fournier for a dagger three-pointer.

Though the Magic were banged up, with Aaron Gordon coming off a foot injury and Elfrid Payton logging a DNP due to his hamstring. Because of this, they relied heavily on not-so-typical players to come up big. Second year guard Devyn Marble logged 16 minutes and forward Jason Smith played nearly 15. Mario played 28 minutes; eight higher than his average this preseason.

The Magic will take on the Grizzlies at home on Friday in their last preseason matchup. The regular season starts with a home game against the Wizards on Wednesday the 28th at 7 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (2-4)
FIELD GOALSREBOUNDS
POS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A +/- OFF DEF TOT AST PF ST TO BS BA PTS
D. Cunningham F 35:09 0-4 0-2 0-0 -12 1 4 5 1 5 0 0 1 0 0
A. Davis F 40:36 8-24 0-2 17-19 -10 2 14 16 0 4 2 2 5 1 33
K. Perkins C 24:24 2-4 0-0 2-2 +7 1 7 8 0 2 0 2 1 0 6
E. Gordon G 39:22 2-7 1-4 9-12 -8 0 3 3 2 1 1 2 0 0 14
J. Holiday G 15:09 2-5 1-2 7-8 +1 0 2 2 1 1 2 4 0 0 12
N. Robinson 25:50 7-11 3-5 1-2 -10 0 1 1 0 3 2 4 0 1 18
R. Anderson 25:32 4-8 3-5 0-0 -1 1 5 6 1 6 1 5 0 0 11
B. Dejean-Jones 15:42 2-5 0-3 3-4 +6 0 1 1 2 3 1 0 0 0 7
A. Gee 31:15 0-4 0-1 4-4 +6 0 3 3 2 5 3 1 0 1 4
B. McCalebb 12:01 1-2 0-1 0-0 +6 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 2
J. Adrien DNP – COACH’S DECISION
A. Ajinca DNP – COACH’S DECISION
O. Asik DNP – COACH’S DECISION
L. Babbitt DNP – COACH’S DECISION
N. Cole DNP – COACH’S DECISION
C. Douglas-Roberts DNP – COACH’S DECISION
T. Evans DNP – COACH’S DECISION
S. Kilpatrick DNP – COACH’S DECISION
Q. Pondexter DNP – COACH’S DECISION
Total 265 28-74 8-25 43-51 5 40 45 10 31 12 22 7 3 107
37.8% 32.0% 84.3% TEAM REBS: 11 TOTAL TO: 22
ORLANDO MAGIC (5-2)
FIELD GOALSREBOUNDS
POS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A +/- OFF DEF TOT AST PF ST TO BS BA PTS
E. Fournier F 34:34 4-12 1-3 2-4 0 0 2 2 2 2 0 0 1 1 11
T. Harris F 29:53 7-13 0-1 4-4 +2 3 5 8 2 4 2 3 1 1 18
N. Vucevic C 33:09 9-20 0-0 6-11 +19 7 7 14 4 6 1 2 0 2 24
V. Oladipo G 27:05 4-11 1-3 1-2 +11 0 6 6 5 5 1 1 0 1 10
C.J. Watson G 31:30 1-9 0-3 1-2 +19 2 5 7 7 5 3 2 0 0 3
M. Hezonja 28:18 6-10 4-6 3-4 +7 1 3 4 2 2 0 1 0 1 19
D. Marble 16:28 3-7 0-2 0-0 -17 0 1 1 4 2 1 2 0 0 6
C. Frye 23:07 3-5 2-3 2-2 +1 1 4 5 0 5 0 2 1 0 10
A. Gordon 14:09 0-3 0-0 2-2 -2 1 4 5 0 4 1 3 0 0 2
D. Dedmon 05:05 0-0 0-0 0-0 -9 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Smith 14:46 2-6 0-0 3-4 -7 0 2 2 1 3 0 2 0 1 7
G. Stiemsma 06:55 0-1 0-0 0-0 -9 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
N. Egwu DNP – COACH’S DECISION
M. Ejim DNP – COACH’S DECISION
S. Napier DNP – COACH’S DECISION
A. Nicholson DNP – COACH’S DECISION
E. Payton DNP – COACH’S DECISION
Total 265 39-97 8-21 24-35 15 41 56 27 40 9 18 3 7 110
40.2% 38.1% 68.6% TEAM REBS: 11 TOTAL TO: 19

INACTIVE

  • Pelicans:
  • Magic:

TECHNICAL FOULS

  • Pelicans:
  • Magic:

SCORING

  • Lead Changes: 12
  • Times Tied: 9

ARENA STATS

  • Arena: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
  • Officials: #25 Tony Brothers, #28 Kevin Scott, #31 Scott Wall
  • Attendance: 12779
  • Duration: 2:57

 

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