Orlando Magic Grades: San Antonio Spurs 120, Orlando Magic 97

Defense have successfully stifled Terrence Ross as the Orlando Magic's offense continues to struggle. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Defense have successfully stifled Terrence Ross as the Orlando Magic's offense continues to struggle. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

120. 29. 97. 38. Final

The Orlando Magic got the response they wanted after a blowout loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. They got the strong effort and energy. They had the things they wanted to focus on and they executed them.

Orlando led 13-6 early on. Wendell Carter was making his living in the paint and the ball moved with ease. The team was competing defensively. The Magic were snapped to attention.

The San Antonio Spurs came out of the timeout and composed themselves. That is what veteran, organized teams do. They take the lessons and breather from their coach as a chance to find their base again.

San Antonio did that, scoring the next 18 points. The Magic went the next seven minutes trying to force their way into the lane and trying to find ways to score. It was a team trying to find any way to score and any way to get things going to the basket. And a team consistently repelled and unable to find a way to score.

The Spurs turned the blocks and rebounds into transition chances and out-executed a Magic team that still overhelps and does not look overly organized on defense yet.

Orlando let this moment frustrate the team again. And things only got worse.

The Spurs got whatever they wanted for much of the rest of the game, using DeMar DeRozan in the halfcourt to torture the Magic and then just closing the vice grip on them offensively. Orlando just could not move the ball or find open shots consistently.

The Spurs blasted the Magic 120-97, leading by as much as 30 points. The game was never really close, gaining a pro forma feel by halftime. The Magic, dealing with an injury to Mohamed Bamba after he pulled himself from the game late in the first quarter, just did not have the bodies to stay with it or compete consistently.

That has remained the biggest problem for the Magic.

B. . C. Orlando Magic. WENDELL CARTER

Finding positives from this game is going to be a difficult task once again. There were no real standout performances when the game was still in the balance — R.J. Hampton led the team with 16 points on a putback slam on the game’s final possession but had 13 of those in the second half when the game was decided. Wendell Carter stood out for his early impact.

The Magic made it a point to get him the ball early and try to work him in the post. They wanted to create situations where they could feed him the ball along the baseline or dump off to him. He made himself available and scored — eight of his 15 in the first quarter. The Magic were not able to get to him for much of the rest of the game.

Some of that might have been him having to play so much with Mohamed Bamba limited to the first quarter with an injury. A lot more of that had to do with how the San Antonio Spurs closed down the paint and prevented any kind of dribble penetration to set him up. Adding to the problems was Carter continues to struggle on the glass. He had eight rebounds but recorded just a 15.2-percent defensive rebound rate. The Magic are still struggling on the glass and this has been a point of weakness in Carter’s otherwise solid defensive game.

DWAYNE BACON. C+. . G/F. Orlando Magic

Dwayne Bacon ended up scoring and making a fair amount of his shots — 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting and 0-for-3 shooting from deep. Bacon has always been good about putting up numbers. But Steve Clifford has started talking more about players who can put up numbers but do not necessarily help their team win. He is not speaking directly about Bacon when he says this. But Bacon may very well be that kind of player.

His style of scoring is to try to break down the defense on his own. He is not a ball mover. So he got his numbers. But his desire to score and hit tough shots, sometimes tougher than they need to be, throws the team off. The Magic made a lot of bad decisions at the rim and in the paint. Bacon was not all of that.

But he was a poster child of it. And it is hard to say whether Bacon is the best player to lead the team — especially in the lineups he is put in without other players to spread the floor or force him into a secondary creator role.

C. . G/F. Orlando Magic. TERRENCE ROSS

Before the trade deadline, the Orlando Magic swung with Terrence Ross. He could shoot the team in and out of games. But at least then, there were some other reliable players to cushion the fall. The Magic were fine with this because they knew Ross would be there when they needed him and they could gamble that one big game would change their fortunes.

Since the deadline? Sometimes it feels like Ross struggles to find his shots. Sure, there are new playing groups — like early in the season when the rotation was inconsistent — but Ross is struggling even to find his shot. If there is one guy who should have the green light to fire whenever he touches it, it should be Ross. He scored eight points but on just 2-for-4 shooting. Four field goal attempts are not enough for Ross if this team is serious about competing for wins.

. PG. Orlando Magic. COLE ANTHONY. C+

Cole Anthony is still getting his feet under him after missing two months with the rib injury. It is hard to blame him for a whole lot of things. He is a rookie trying to pick up where he left off two months ago. That is not easy. And he is still shooting plenty and finding little spurts of play. He scored 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting with three rebounds and three assists. He continues to be active and play with energy and a little bit of edge.

But Anthony is still struggling with some basic point guard things. And he may not be re-entering the starting lineup any time soon. The Magic cannot trust him to run the team effectively get them organized yet. He is still clearly learning this. The Magic were slow to get into their sets throughout the game and they often broke down before they could start.

. 26-26. 9th West. SAN ANTONIO SPURS. A

The San Antonio Spurs played a composed and calm game. The Orlando Magic got them down early but the San Antonio Spurs got in the huddle and found their groove again. They found their strategy in closing down the paint and challenging shots at the rim. The Magic could not pass their way out of it. And the Spurs just pounce on every mistake.

San Antonio shot 51.6-percent from the floor and 10 for 25 from deep. If San Antonio were a heavier volume 3-point shooting team, this game might have gotten more out of hand. DeMar DeRozan led the team with 19 points, putting the Magic far out of reach with a scoring burst in the second quarter. Not a whole lot more was needed than their energetic defense.

Next. Orlando Magic know what they are and demand more of themselves. dark

The Orlando Magic finish their homestand on a six-game losing streak and fall to 17-37, 14th in the Eastern Conference. They trail the Chicago Bulls by 5.5 games for the final spot in the Play-In Tournament.

The Magic have been eliminated from earning the top-2 seeds in the Eastern Conference. The Orlando Magic will be eliminated from earning a top-6 seed in the Eastern Conference with any combination of nine losses or nine Charlotte Hornets wins. They will be eliminated from the Play-In Tournament with any combination of 14 losses or 14 Chicago Bulls wins.

The Orlando Magic will be eliminated from receiving the best odds at winning the NBA Draft Lottery with any combination of 18 Magic wins or 18 Detroit Pistons losses.