The final score of the Magic's Summer League finale against the Celtics is ultimately irrelevant — the Celtics won 102-83 dominating the first quarter and never looking back, building as much as a 29-point lead. Victor Oladipo, Kyle O'Quinn and Maurice Harkless sat out the game after all.
Orlando, having relied heavily on those players throughout the first four games of Summer League, was putting players out on the floor who had gotten little playing time and little exposure. It was asking a lot to have them play like a team. The results bore that out.
This game and day was not about that.
"We're very very excited with the week," Magic coach James Borrego said. "We saw a lot of growth with the players that have been here in the past, players that we just drafted and players that are on the fringe and may have an opportunity to join us in camp.
"We always want our players to try to win games. That's what we're in this for. Ultimately, this Summer League is about their growth, their development, making sur ethey understand who we are as a group and what our culture is moving forward. We're disappointed with the 2-3 record, but I think as a whole we're very happy with their development and what we saw over the course of the five games."
Victor Oladipo was a revelation throughout the week, showing he could shoot jumpers and create off the dribble. The point guard experiment did not seem so crazy after its first week. Maurice Harkless showed improvement and confidence in his driving and shooting abilities, taking on a leadership role for the young summer league squad. Andrew Nicholson showed improved strength in the low post. Kyle O'Quinn, more patience.
If this is what the Magic wanted to see, that is what they got.
Oladipo averaged 19.0 points per game in the three games, dishing out 5.0 assists per game and grabbing 4.3 rebounds per game. He contributed 3.0 steals per game, showing at least some of his defensive ability. He shot 53.8 percent from beyond the arc. Oladipo had that game-winner too for us all to remember him by.
Harkless averaged 13.0 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game for the Magic. Nicholson scored 10.8 per game and O'Quinn posted 8.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
These raw numbers do not quite get to the impact this week had for these young players potentially as the team breaks camp and goes their separate ways until training camp begins in early October.
"It was a ltitle bit of everything. It had some good moments, had some rough moments. But it was a good learning process for me this week. Even today, watching from the sidelines was good for me. I coudl see some mistakes and the reason why I make them and some reasons of what I need to do to correct them. It was a great learning week for me. I'm going to go home or go wherever I go now and just think about the game, continue to keep watching the film and continue to learn."
Oladipo was reulated to cheerleader and observer Friday as the Magic trotted out a lineup featuring many more of the undrafted players and free agents signed to the team.
A.J. Slaughter led the team with 25 points and nine assists, making 10 of 22 shots and helping spark a run in the third quarter that cut the lead down from its largest at 29 points down to about 13. Again, the score did not matter as players were playing together largely for the first time this week and playing perhaps under the pressure of having to impress scouts who had not seen them all week.
Slaughter scored 18 points in the second half and shot 8 for 15. He was helped out by Romero Osby's 14 points and Glen Dandridge's 2-for-6 shooting from beyond arc.
These guys got their opportunity to show at least a little bit of what they could do. Whether that training camp invite comes next is another matter.
"Those guys really didn't know until 30 minutes before the game that they were going to pay heavy minutes," Borrego said. "We didn't know what to expect. I thought they responded in those moments. When you get your moment, you take advantage of it. I think a few of our guys did that."
Slaughter certainly was one and we will see what happens with him next.
DeQuan Jones was a player who finally got an opportunity to play. The unrestricted free agent who was a surprise addition to the roster last year, scored 15 points in about 18 minutes. He made 3 of his 4 3-point attempts. Jones just did not play enough (among the Magic's roster players, at least) to draw any conclusions. It remains unclear what is future with the Magic might end up being.
"Today was big," Jones said. "I just wanted to go out and have fun and end on the right note. End with playing hard for my teammates and the guys we have been working with for the last two weeks. It has been an experience. I'm just enjoying it."
That was the point. To enjoy and embrace the experience and learn. For the young Magic, every experience is a learning one. And the Magic learned a lot this week.
There are still improvements to make on the defensive end for the team. Including Friday's 53.4 percent shooting performance by the Celtics, the Magic gave up 47.6 percent shooting. Magic opponents scored 90.4 points per game against them. Not the strongest numbers.
But Orlando showed aggression and assertiveness on defense and communicated decently even if they could not rotate in time. Defense is still a work in progress, but the team showed some growth and chemistry on both ends of the floor.
There are going to be lumps to take as the team continues to learn like this. Now comes the waiting for the next time the Magic play.
"I'm looking forward to [the regular season]," Oladipo said. "It's going to be very exciting. It's going to be crazy to experience my very first, actual NBA regular season game. I'm looking forward to it. I know it's going to be a great, fun process with my teammates and I'm looking forward ot that as well."
We cannot wait either.