Kim Klement/USA TODAY
The Magic returned home from their Texas road trip looking to bounce back. Victor Oladipo was certainly among them after a difficult shooting performance in Houston. He got what he wanted against Memphis on Friday.
The Magic? They still struggled offensively and with fouls, although the final margin was close again. But individual players seemed to bounce back fine and put in the individual performances you want to see. Now it is putting it all together for the regular season to come.
The Grizzlies defeated the Magic 97-91 at Amway Center on Friday, getting 19 points and 11 rebounds from former Magic Rookie of the Year Mike Miller. Victor Oladipo 22 points on 6-for-12 shooting, bouncing back from his poor shooting performance against the Rockets.
Oladipo's bounce back
Rookies are going to be inconsistent. They will make mistakes. And sometimes their play one game will look nothing like their play the next.
Victor Oladipo is not immune to this either. He struggled Wednesday night in Houston, shooting 3 for 12. It was his first poor offensive game of the preseason and the first time he really did not look good. Or, in other words, looked like a rookie.
He bounced back Friday night in a big way. This should be a very encouraging sign for the Magic.
Oladipo scored 22 points on 6-for-12 shooting. He made all eight of his free throws and two of his three 3-point attempts. This is a sign that Oladipo is doing what he does best — working to get to the basket and attacking.
Oladipo took good shots against Houston, but was not getting to the basket as much. His jumper is still the weaker part of his offensive game. So if he is not attacking, he is liable to have games like the one he had Wednesday.
Seeing him bounce back with a game like he had Friday night is why everyone believes Oladipo is going to be so special.
Fouls and more fouls
The biggest problem defensively for the Magic has been the constant and consistent fouling the team has done throughout. Some of this is expected becuase it is the preseason.
We are five games in and this is a problem that is slowly getting corrected, but maybe a bit too slowly. The Magic committed 24 personal fouls in Friday's game and gave up 27 free throw attempts to the Grizzlies. These numbers are slowly going down.
Fouls though remain an issue. Especially for Orlando's big men.
Nikola Vucevic fouled out in 26 minutes. Kyle O'Quinn had five fouls in 22 minutes. These have not been outliers in one game. These two guys, Orlando's primary post players so far this preseason, continue to foul a lot.
Some of that certainly goes to the defense and the struggles it might be having. Perimeter defenders are allowing penetrators into the lane and forcing the centers to make the play. Thus their fouling could be a problem with the defense along the perimeter.
In any case, Orlando cannot survive for very long if Vucevic is committing a lot of fouls.
Through five games, we are all still trying to get a sense of what this Magic team's offense is going to look like. That is tough, of coures, because Orlando has not had its full roster on the floor at one time really this entire preseason. The Magic are doing that somewhat on purpose.
But the offense continues to play 24 really good minutes and then 24 kind of confusing minutes. The Magic are not expected to have the best offense in the league this year. There are still going to be struggles. How much is the question, it seems.
Friday night, Orlando scored 37 points in the first half and then 54 in the second. Typically Orlando puts its best offensive effort in the first half. This was the reverse.
Orlando ended up shooting 43.4 percent for the game and 4 for 18 from beyond the arc. Jameer Nelson was just 1 of 7 from the floor and Arron Afflalo was 3 for 7. Those guys are likely fin entering the regular season. The offense should tick back up when the games start.
It is hard to figure this team out even at this point in the preseason.