NEW ORLEANS – The Orlando Magic put on dominant display against the New Orleans Pelicans winning 130-119, a good start to their 4-game road trip while also putting an end to their 3-game losing streak.
In his first game back since November 20th logging 29 minutes of action, All-Star Center Nikola Vucevic looked active boasting a stat line of 20 points, 9 rebounds and 1 steal shooting 8/15 from the field and 2/5 from beyond the arc.
Vucevic on his return said “I felt great, I’m really happy to finally be back you know after 11 games, 3 weeks, it’s been great. I know we got a win which was great, it made the comeback better”.
Coach Clifford noted the presence of Vucevic was a huge positive as his leadership on defense made a difference especially with the Pelicans small ball lineup with Holiday, Ball, and Ingram sharing the floor.
Everything was working offensively for the Magic as they were led by Jonathan Isaac’s double-double, his 5th of the year contributing 21 points and 11 rebounds on 7/11 shooting.
Everyone was a beneficiary as eight players finished the night in double figures. The bench was especially tremendous led by veteran point guard DJ Augustine with 17 points and 8 assists.
Markelle Fultz notably, showed a glimpse of why he’s a former #1 overall pick with his sensational behind-the back crossover dunk he showcased in the 2nd quarter. Coach Clifford said of Markelle’s ability to push the ball in transition, not allowing the defense to get set, contributed to the win.
Mohamed Bamba played with some poise logging 19 minutes with 13 points 6 rebounds going 5/6 from the field and 2/3 from deep range.
It was in the 2nd half where the Magic took control as noted by Coach Clifford. “The big stretch in the 3rd quarter was with the second group, JI was in there part of it, AG was in there part of it and you know, we made a bunch of threes. Terrence Ross made threes, MCW made threes, DJ was in the paint. Mo made 2 threes. That was really the stretch of the game that made the difference.”
The Pelicans had four players score 20 or more points with Holiday leading them with 28 points and 8 rebounds. However, it wasn’t enough as the Magic were firing on all cylinders, especially from three, connecting on 50% of their attempts.
The Magic won the game tonight in large part due to their defense leading to transition offense as they won the turnover battle, forcing 17 Pelicans turnovers. “The ball got going up and down some off our defense, I mean we scored a bunch of I don’t know how many but a bunch of points in transition” said Coach Clifford.
The Magic finished the game with a head-scratching 5 technical fouls, something to pay attention to going forward.
The Magic face off against the Utah Jazz in the 2nd game of their Western Conference road trip on Tuesday. They look to improve upon tonight’s game taking the winning streak to 2 games.