Magic Come Up One Point Short in Season Opener

By on October 29, 2015

 

 Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) shoots over Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat. (Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports)

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) shoots over Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat. (Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports)

ORLANDO, Fla – The Orlando Magic tipped off the season with an 87-88 loss against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. In a battle of guards, it was Nikola Vucevic that missed a go-ahead bucket with 3.5 seconds left on the clock.

The Wizards came to town with one of the most explosive backcourt duos in the league, featuring guards John Wall and Bradley Beal. The Magic, with their own up-and-coming tandem of Elfrid Payton at the point and Victor Oladipo at shooting guard looked to make an early statement in the East against the perennial playoff contenders. The Wizards have played the big brother role of late, winning all four of their matchups against Orlando last season.

The Magic opened with an ugly first quarter, but eventually righted the ship. After forcing three consecutive defensive stops, the worst-case scenario started to play out for Orlando: both Wall and Beal got hot. Not typically a sharpshooter, Wall drained a three in Payton’s face, and Beal followed with one of his own early in the game. This seemed to provoke Payton, who uncorked several long shots that all missed the mark. The team struggled to find offensive flow early in the game, with the exception of rookie Mario Hezonja, who scored eight in the first quarter of his NBA career. After a late surge, the Magic only trailed 29-31 going into the second.

The second quarter featured a return to normalcy for both teams, with the Wizards’ backcourt cooling down and Orlando resuming their domination of the paint that began late in the first. The Magic tied the game early in the second, and then Elfrid Payton buried a long two for the lead as the Amway Center erupted into applause. The quarter was tightly contested, each team scoring 22, and giving the Wizards a 53-51 halftime lead.

By the third quarter, the guards’ battle had taken a backseat to a steady and balanced style by the Orlando Magic. Again dominating the paint, they fed forward Tobias Harris and center Nikola Vucevic, while making use of Elfrid Payton’s slashing style. Payton often commanded respect when driving to the bucket, leaving shooters like forward Evan Fournier and Victor Oladipo Open. Vic, however, had a woeful night from beyond the arc (1/8), despite having a solid stat line when the night was over.

In the fourth quarter, the real fireworks began. Both sides traded blows throughout the period, with neither able to pull away. With just under two and a half minutes left in the game and the score tied at 82, Mario Hezonja rattled in a three to thunderous applause. It appeared the Magic were starting to take control, especially after Tobias nailed a short shot to increase the lead to 87-82 at the two-minute mark.

The Magic would not score again. The offense stalled, and the Wizards began to slowly pick away at their lead. Now at 87-86 Magic, twelve seconds on the clock, Orlando was one stop away from making the Wizards resort to fouling. John Wall had other plans. He split the defense and drove to the hoop, laying it in to give his Wizards the lead.

With ten seconds left, the Magic needed to regroup and score quickly or have their home opener spoiled by Beal and Wall. The outlet pass was to Tobias, who flew across the court, attempted a layup only to have it blocked at the rim by Wizards center Marcin Gortat.

A whistle sounded and a wave of confusion enveloped the building. The refs called a meeting and decided to review if the play was a goaltend. If the call stood, an automatic two points, and a nearly assured win would be awarded to the Magic. The Amway Center stood in silence as they reviewed the replay. Finally, the head ref waved it off – no goaltend.

The Magic were given the ball with 3.5 seconds left on the clock, still down 87-88. Coach Scott Skiles drew up a play where either Tobias or Vucevic got the ball cutting to the basket. With Tobias Harris covered, they passed it to Vuce, who met a stone wall in Marcin Gortat. With the buzzer about to sound, Vucevic did all he could: he threw up a long two that clanged off the rim. The air went out of the hopeful crowd as they realized that time was up.

When asked postgame, coach Skiles said the Vucevic was the second option, but reiterated, “we’ve got to put our head down and drive to the basket, try to get some contact.”

Despite the loss, there were several bright spots for the young Magic team. Tobias Harris turned in a very efficient performance, scoring 15 on 7 of 14 shooting. Payton and Oladipo were on the opposite end, shooting 33% and 35% respectively. They both contributed in other ways, however, as both registered a double double and the pair finished with the first and second most rebounds of anyone on either team.

The Magic won’t have much time to stew over their loss, as they take on the thunder at home on Friday. This matchup will feature two first-year head coaches, due to the Thunder’s hiring of former Florida coach Billy Donovan.

7:00 PM ET, October 28, 2015

Amway Center, Orlando, FL

1 2 3 4 T
WSH 31 22 12 23 88
ORL 29 22 16 20 87

Top Performers

WSH: J. Wall 22 Pts, 7 Reb, 6 Ast, 3 Stl, 5 Blk

Orl: V. Oladipo 17 Pts, 11 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl

Washington Wizards
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
Kris Humphries, PF 26 4-9 1-3 2-2 2 4 6 0 1 0 3 2 +9 11
Otto Porter Jr., SF 37 3-10 1-5 0-0 2 6 8 5 2 0 1 1 +19 7
Marcin Gortat, C 36 4-6 0-0 2-2 2 6 8 2 0 2 2 1 +14 10
John Wall, PG 39 9-18 2-6 2-6 1 6 7 6 3 5 6 3 +10 22
Bradley Beal, SG 38 9-19 2-8 4-7 3 3 6 0 0 1 4 2 +4 24
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
Drew Gooden, PF 20 1-6 1-4 0-0 4 3 7 1 0 1 0 2 -14 3
Nene Hilario, PF 12 0-6 0-0 1-2 1 1 2 1 1 0 1 2 -13 1
Gary Neal, PG 18 3-8 0-2 0-0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 -5 6
Ramon Sessions, PG 14 0-2 0-0 4-6 0 3 3 2 1 0 0 1 -19 4
Kelly Oubre Jr., SF DNP COACH’S DECISION
DeJuan Blair, C DNP COACH’S DECISION
Jared Dudley, SG DNP COACH’S DECISION
Garrett Temple, SG DNP COACH’S DECISION
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
33-84 7-28 15-25 15 34 49 17 8 9 17 14 88
39.3% 25.0% 60.0%
Fast break points:   17
Points in the paint:   30
Total Team Turnovers (Points off turnovers):   18 (15)
+/- 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
Tobias Harris, SF 31 7-14 0-3 1-2 2 5 7 3 0 1 2 4 -1 15
Nikola Vucevic, C 28 5-13 0-0 0-0 1 6 7 2 1 2 2 4 -10 10
Elfrid Payton, PG 35 5-15 1-3 0-0 4 6 10 8 1 0 2 1 -11 11
Evan Fournier, SG 27 1-7 0-3 1-2 0 4 4 1 2 0 1 1 -1 3
Victor Oladipo, SG 36 7-20 1-8 2-2 3 8 11 2 2 0 1 2 -10 17
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
Aaron Gordon, PF 17 4-8 0-2 4-6 4 3 7 1 0 1 0 0 +2 12
Jason Smith, PF 5 1-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 -5 2
Mario Hezonja, SF 25 4-9 3-5 0-0 0 3 3 2 0 0 4 3 +2 11
Dewayne Dedmon, C 15 2-6 0-0 0-0 2 4 6 0 1 2 1 4 +12 4
C.J. Watson, PG 21 1-6 0-2 0-0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 2 +17 2
Channing Frye, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION
Andrew Nicholson, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION
Shabazz Napier, PG DNP COACH’S DECISION
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
37-100 5-26 8-12 17 39 56 20 9 6 14 22 87
37.0% 19.2% 66.7%
Fast break points:   12
Points in the paint:   46
Total Team Turnovers (Points off turnovers):   16 (14)
+/- denotes team’s net points while the player is on the court.

 Flagrant Fouls: None
 Technical Fouls: PLAYERS: None – TEAMS: None – COACHES: None
 Officials: Jason Phillips, Eric Lewis, Dedric Taylor
 Attendance: 18,846
 Time of Game: 2:21

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