Orlando Magic Grades: San Antonio Spurs 104, Orlando Magic 77

The Orlando Magic struggled to get their offense going without Nikola Vucevic on the floor in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic struggled to get their offense going without Nikola Vucevic on the floor in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

104. 29. Final. 77. 38

The Orlando Magic had everything working in the first quarter. The ball moved and shots went down. The team was rallying defensively and challenge shots on the perimeter and in the paint.

The team wanted to respond to a frustrating loss in Miami on Thursday. And their only frustration was the turnovers they were committing. But at least they were balls thrown out of bounds. The team was rolling and up 13 points after one quarter.

This was the requisite fight and determination the team needed to see.

How things fell apart was both predictable and frustrating. The Magic took Nikola Vucevic out of the game for his regular rest at the end of the first quarter. The team’s offense went in the tank without anyone who could consistently create their own shot or score.

Scoring is kind of important.

The Magic scored just 10 points in the second quarter to give away the lead. Not even Nikola Vucevic could save the team. But at least he could keep it close. the Magic got it to within three in the third quarter.

But Vucevic could not play the entire second half. That would be silly especially on the second night of a back-to-back. And the 10-point deficit the Magic faced at the end of the third quarter quickly ballooned to 17, then 19, then 20 and more with him out of the game.

What was at one point a good fight for the Magic turned into a 27-point rout as the Spurs defeated the Magic 104-77 at AT&T Center on Friday.

The Orlando Magic could not generate much offensive force outside of Nikola Vucevic and the San Antonio Spurs pounced with a killing blow in the fourth quarter.

Like the second quarter, the Magic managed only 13 points in the fourth quarter. There just was nowhere near enough offense to sustain any chance at coming back.

Rudy Gay went on a scoring binge as the Spurs’ second unit put up their second 30-point quarter of the game to match the Magic’s poor shooting with their reserves in the game. Orlando did not help itself with 18 turnovers (six again from Michael Carter-Williams and four from Nikola Vucevic).

But it all still came down to shooting and offensive execution. The Magic’s offense was consistently stuck in the mud and unable to break free. Everything had to go through Vucevic and the Spurs just surrounded and pressured him daring someone else to beat them.

When he was out of the game, Orlando simply had no answers.

NIKOLA VUCEVIC. B+. . C. Orlando Magic

It is really hard to figure what more Nikola Vucevic is supposed to do to lift this team and try to get them some wins. He is scoring in every way possible and is the only player defenses are even remotely paying attention to on most nights. Vucevic has been that good. And he did it again with 26 points, nine rebounds and 12-for-18 shooting.

Every bit of the San Antonio Spurs’ attention was on Vucevic every time down the floor. He saw double- and triple-teams on every touch and even before he touched the ball. It was a wonder sometimes that he was able to find the gaps to get his shot off and score. The only complaint for him might have been his shot selection late in the second quarter as he tried desperately to get the team some points. But that is splitting hairs at this point.


Michael Carter-Williams is trying to be a generator for the team and create some offense for his team. He has to get some credit for that. But it is just so inefficient right now. And ultimately, he is the one who has to initiate the offense. And even that is an adventure. The Magic just are not getting what they need from their point guard at the moment.

For the second straight game, Carter-Williams turned it over six times. These were not aggressive turnovers where he was trying to make a play or get downhill toward the basket. These were turnovers where he lost the ball, slipped on the floor or just made a bad pass. The Spurs even got him with a full-court press to start the third quarter. The Magic cannot get into their offense right now to even get a good shot. And Carter-Williams has to be better at starting things off.

. F. Orlando Magic. CHUMA OKEKE. B

With Aaron Gordon and Terrence Ross missing the game, Chuma Okeke got his first career start. The rookie still looks like he is finding his comfort zone offensively. But he looked no worse for the wear despite playing out of position. His defense is certainly starting level at this point as he made several nice plays to lock up perimeter players, blocking a Derrick White attempt at the buzzer to end the first quarter. Chuma Okeke’s defensive instincts are fantastic and will keep him around for a while.

Offensively, he is still not quite asserting himself or finding his footing completely. Okeke still largely works as a spot-up shooter and occasional fast-break finisher. His offensive role is still very small. Like everyone else on the Magic, Okeke struggled to score with just eight points on 2-for-9 shooting. He made only one of his seven 3-point attempts for one of the worst shooting nights of his young career.

Orlando Magic. GARY CLARK. B-. . F

Gary Clark takes some heat and rightfully so in many ways. He has been a favorite of Steve Clifford’s since his arrival. And while he is solid on defense, his 3-point shooting has left a lot to be desired for someone who is supposedly a specialist from that range. The Orlando Magic have always asked a lot of Gary Clark and have always needed more.

Clark was fine though Friday. His shooting has largely come around in recent games. It is not that the Magic have a choice but to play him at this point — especially with Al-Farouq Aminu, Chuma Okeke and Aaron Gordon still on various minute restrictions. Clark finished with eight points and six rebounds. He did hit only two of his seven 3-pointers however. But found other ways to stay active.

B+. . 19-15. 7th West. SAN ANTONIO SPURS

The San Antonio Spurs did not get off to the start they wanted. Really, for much of the game, they struggled to pick apart an Orlando Magic defense that was able to get set and play well. Steve Clifford said after the game that he thought his team did enough defensively to win the game. San Antonio was not exactly destroying Orlando, not until the fourth quarter.

But the Spurs were able to stick with it. They took the punch from the Magic early and then locked into their gameplan to try to get the ball out of Nikola Vucevic’s hands. They swarmed him and then tightened up when he was out of the game. The Spurs knew they could overwhelm with their depth at some point. And they struck at the right now.

Next. Orlando Magic still ned discipline through the injuries. dark

The Magic are now 13-25 and 4.5 games out of the final spot in the Play-In Tournament. The Orlando Magic are back in action Sunday at the Amway Center against the Miami Heat.