The Orlando Magic were dominated bu the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night 129-90 without their best player, Nikola Vucevic.
Vucevic and his wife welcomed the couple’s first child – a son named Filip – on Monday and missed the game to be with them.
He leads the Magic in scoring and rebounding, but the team played as if they had missed their whole defensive core without him.
The Spurs flirted with a 70% for percentage for most of the game and sprinted past the magic all night. The Spurs wee 9 of 10 on fast break points, shot 65 % on field goals, and were 12 of 19 in 3 points shots.
LeMarcus Aldridge dominated Mo Bamba inside and scored a game high 20 points and DeMar DeRozan added 17. Marco Bellineli put in 18 for the second squad, and four 3-pointers on seven of nine shooting.
The Spurs improved to 6-1 in their past seven games and are making it look easy. The Spurs’ average margin of victory in those six wins is 26 points.
`We caught a break with Nikola being out,’’ Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He means a lot to the rhyme and reason of what goes on with the Magic. That was a huge factor. Not having him is huge. Everything makes more sense around him. He’s a veteran, leading scorer, everybody knows where to be around him.’’
The Magic are coming off of a nice two-game winning streak – victories piled up in Mexico City. Orlando edged Chicago and Utah last week in the NBA Mexico Games 2018.
“There were no warning signs about playing like this. I really thought we’d play well tonight,” said Magic head coach Steve Clifford. “I mean they had 21 fast-break points at halftime and they’re 30th in the NBA in fast-break points, so you know we just weren’t ready to defend or fight at all.”
“I mean the thing is if you’re going to give up that many fast-break points you’re going to lose. Give up 21 fast-break points in one half? You’re going to lose. It doesn’t matter who you play. And they played great and we were terrible.”
Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Jonathon Simmons pointed to a lack of focus and the hunger needed to beat a San Antonio team that has won six of seven.
`I don’t think it was lack of energy, but we didn’t play with energy,’’ Fournier fumed. “We just played terrible – offensively and defensively with no awareness and no focus. Not enough for a team that wants to make the playoffs.’’
Vucevic returned to practice on Thursday, and will make the trip to Chicago with the team and will be the starter at center Friday for the Magic against the Bulls.