In crunch time, Oladipo and Harkless shine

NBAAll eyes were on Victor Oladipo at the end of the game. Maybe that is unfair for a rookie — even the second overall pick — in a Summer League game. After his teammates — particularly Maurice Harkless — helped bring the Magic back into position to win after defensive lapses and fouls derailed the Magic.

It was Oladipo who brought the house down. It was Oladipo whom fans will be curious to see when the lights turn on for real.

Oladipo began his drive, stopped and pulled up for a long two-pointer, his foot just grazing that devilish 3-point line that many questioned he could shoot from. The ball went through the hoop and gave an elated Amway Center practice court something to really cheer about.

Chants did indeed reign down from the VIPs and season ticket holders sitting atop the practice court in the Magic offices. After Khalif Wyatt's shot fell off the rim, the Magic could celebrate a 90-89 win over the 76ers.

  Score Off. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
Philadelphia 89 103.2 49.3 37.5 16.8 54.4
Orlando 90 108.6 51.6 24.1 15.6 42.2

"He comes in, steps in and just goes and takes that shot and he made it," Maurice Harkless said. "It's a big time play and it's a good sign."

Much like the rest of this week, Oladipo has not disappointed. He will have one highlight for fans to remember and get them through August and September before the season starts in October.


Oladipo scored 24 points to go with six assists, in another solid Summer League showing for the point guard experiment. He made seven of eight free throws and three of five 3-pointers. Oladipo did a lot for the Magic to be in a position to win. But he gave all the credit to his teammates.

He would not have been there without them.

"They wanted to win just as bad as I did," Oladipo said. "They were eager to win. I just hit a big shot for us. It was just a great team win. Credit Maurice Harkless, he played great for us. And Andrew Nicholson, everybody did a great job. Withtout them, I never would have had to hit the shot."

The Magic seemed on the ropes and destined for the Summer League's last place game on championship Friday. 

Harkless though began to take over the game, getting the look in his eye of a leader knowing he has to close. Yes, it is Summer League, but that is something positive developing in the young player.

Harkless drove into the lane with the clear intent to score and finish. Those 15 extra pounds he has put on already this summer helped him absorb contact and finish, even if the referees were not going to give him the foul. Harkless scored 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting, adding four assists to his name.

That did not really tell his impact, particularly late in the game.

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Andrew Nicholson too picked up his offense in scoring 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting. After struggling with turnovers against Miami, he had just one and was given nearly free reign to post up and take on the Sixers defenders and he was largely successful.

"I got a little furstrated, but that's how it is," Nicholson said. "Offense is pretty fickle. So you just got to translate to the defensive end."

The game though would be decided for the Magic on the defensive end. There, Orlando had some problems throughout the day.

The Sixers shot 45.6 percent from the floor and 5 for 13 from beyond the arc. It was on the offensive glass Orlando really struggled. When the team would get a stop, it would be out of position for the offensive rebound or commit a foul after some good defense. The Sixers had 19 second chance points and went to the line for 37 free throw attempts.

However the defense stepped up when it needed to.

With time ticking down after Kyle O'Quinn preserved a one-point deficit on a nasty block of Arsalan Kazemi near the rim, Oladipo (the point guard) brought the ball up the floor. James Borrego did not call timeout, allowing the rookie to operate and trusting him to go when the time was right.

Borrego said Oladipo looked comfortable with the ball in his hands at the end of the game and that is why he rolled with him.

It was a good, confidence-building decision as both Harkless and Oladipo stepped up to give the Magic the win.

"I think you are looking at two winners right there between Moe Harkless and Victor," James Borrego said. "Their mentality is to win and that's what they did tonight. We wish that we would have played better so it didn't come down to the end. But, in the big picture, this is a good learning experience for us. Two guys made big plays down the stretch to get a win. That's a significant step for us moving forward."

Orlando was not going to take losing any more after the crushing loss to Oklahoma City and then the disappointing effort against Miami. Thursday night, the Magic dug deep and made the plays necessary to win.

The Magic will now get a rematch with the Celtics at 2 p.m. in the seventh place game for the Summer League. That may not be the position the Magic wanted to be playing for, but it is still a chance to learn and grow and finish the week strong.

Borrego said he wants to see the team finish on a high note and finish with the same mentality they finished Thursday's game.

"It's one game, they'll have time to rest," Borrego said. "Let's go at it and be aggressive tomorrow. It should be fun."

Maybe not as fun for fans as the moment their second overall pick stepped calmly and cooly into the spotlight late in a game.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily