Orlando Magic Grades: LA Clippers 99, Orlando Magic 90

Michael Carter-Williams had to take control in the second quarter as the Orlando Magic fell in their opening scrimmage. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Carter-Williams had to take control in the second quarter as the Orlando Magic fell in their opening scrimmage. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic returned to the court with some mixed results. The team showed plenty to build on and lots to work on as the season draws near.

The Orlando Magic approached their first game in more than four months with a bit of curiosity.

Throughout the beginning stages of the team’s training camp at the NBA’s campus at Disney, they all expressed they had no idea how they would react to playing someone else. The one thing they seemed to know is they had no idea how far they had to go.

Albeit in an exhibition game, the first contest of any kind in four months saw a very familiar team wearing the Magic uniform.

When the NBA’s normal regular season was suspended on March 11, the Magic found themselves battling for the seventh seed. This was not a coincidence. The Magic possess each and every characteristic typically associated with the seventh seed.

Orlando’s play could be described most concisely as consistently inconsistent.

In every measurable manner, for every positive which can be pointed to, a negative can be found. A negative for every positive can be found no matter the number of games chosen, one or all 65 or anywhere in between.

That was very much on display in the Orlando Magic’s 99-90 loss to the LA Clippers in a 40-minute scrimmage to open up play at Disney.

The Magic had plenty of positive signs and things to build on. But also so much to work on before the games count.

Orlando raced out of the gates in the first quarter, taking as much as an eight-point lead, and looking really sharp. They attacked the middle of the paint and were able to finish near the rim or get to the foul line. They lead 29-21 early in the second quarter.

Then Los Angeles re-seized the lead and for good with an 8-0 run midway through the second quarter. The Clippers outscored the Magic 32-16 as the Magic’s offense became bogged down in drives into traffic and poor shot selection.

The ball stopped moving and the Clippers could take advantage behind Lou Williams’ scoring and some generally hot 3-point shooting, especially considering this was the first game in so long.

The Clippers led by as much as 13. Orlando righted the ship in the second half. The starters came back in and played with more energy behind Nikola Vucevic’s 18 points. The bench played with more energy and precision too, cutting the lead to two possesions on three occasions in the fourth quarter.

Orlando’s execution was not necessarily poor, just not as high a level of quality as needed throughout the entire contest. It is something certainly to build on.

Preseason games are about what the individual team is or is not doing as opposed to matching up with or reacting to the opponent’s strengths. The Magic were simply trying to get themselves right and see where they were at.

For as much as the unknown has been discussed within the context of concluding the season, the Magic’s game showed no general signs of change.

The players might not have the same physical prowess after the four-month layoff. But they still looked more together and locked in than could be expected.

Innate individual skill sets and cohesion among the team developed throughout the normal regular season have not deteriorated. Orlando committed only 10 turnovers and they were able to fluidly move the ball for much of the game.

The only thing missing was finishing with the 3-point shot — Orlando made only 5 of 28 3-pointers, compared to LA’s 16 of 41, essentially the difference in the game.

Everyone expected the team to struggle shooting coming out of the game. Orlando made only 42.1 percent of its shots overall. But the team was able to get in the paint.

The Magic are still trying to get back to the pace that made them successful later in the season. Perhaps Markelle Fultz’s return will help the team out on that front.

One game does not make a pattern. An eye should be kept on the disparity among individual contributions though.

Clifford kept the starters’ minutes relatively low, keeping them all around the 20-minute mark. This game was about getting on the floor and not pushing anyone too far. The real trick will be getting players back in rhythm.

That will be a continuing process.

C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC. A. It was going to be hard to expect anyone to step in and <a href=

Another player who certainly looked ahead of the curve was <a href=. F. Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON. A

B+. <a href=. G. Orlando Magic. MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS

B-. When <a href=. G/F. Orlando Magic. TERRENCE ROSS

A-. The LA Clippers should also come away from this game feeling really good — and not just because of the win. The Clippers looked sluggish early on and struggled to hit from the outside. They were clearly going to rely on the 3-pointer a lot more. Paul George really helped pace the team early on — he scored 18 points on 6-for-13 shooting.<p>They needed to settle in. But when they did, the made life hard for the Orlando Magic. Orlando struggled to break down the defense and get in the middle and that enabled LA to get out on the run some more and get quality shots. They found their way into the paint and kicked out.</p><p>The Clippers made their 3-pointers — whether it was Lou Williams or Kawhi Leonard or Paul George or Patrick Patterson. That is enough to make a difference at this early stage. The Clippers have to clean up their turnovers and fouling. And they gave up their share of runs into the paint. But this is a good start for a title contender.</p>. 44-20. 2nd West. LA CLIPPERS

Next. The 2020 Orlando Magic are a much-improved team. dark

The Orlando Magic will play their second scrimmage on Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers.