Orlando Magic Grades: New Orleans Pelicans 135, Orlando Magic 100

The Orlando Magic were unable to get anything going as the New Orleans Pelicans wrecked the Magic at home. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic were unable to get anything going as the New Orleans Pelicans wrecked the Magic at home. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

38. Final. 135. 69. 100

The Orlando Magic know how small their margin for error is. They cannot give away possessions or make too many mistakes. They have to be on point defensively and attack the glass.

Those tasks got a lot tougher just before the game when the team ruled out Wendell Carter with ankle soreness. The Magic are certainly giving the impression that getting one of the top spots in the Lottery is something they would not mind getting.

Still, this team is young enough that every game is an opportunity. And the team wants to see its players grow and develop. Wins may not be in order, but the team can still work on its basic principles and make opponents work to get wins.

It certainly should not be this easy. Or as easy as the New Orleans Pelicans made it look.

The Orlando Magic could not get any stops and struggled to find any footing as they lost in embarrassing fashion to the New Orleans Pelicans to open their final homestand.

The Pelicans picked apart the Magic’s defense throughout the night. Driving into the lane and scoring at the rim or dumping off to centers or kicking out to threes. The Magic’s defense completely deflated, nearly giving up their post-deadline average of opponent points in the paint through the first half.

New Orleans finished shooting 55.6-percent from the floor. The team posted 66 points in the paint, including 42 in the first half. The Pelicans did not even need the three-point line to defeat the Magic 135-100, leading by as much as 42 points in the game.

Quite simply, this is what it looks when one of the worst teams in the league is down several key players that help them function at a basic level. Even if the team was playing with a decent effort, they did not have the precision to execute at any level. Too many important players were just off in the wrong ways to give the team any chance to win.

Orlando ended the game shooting 36.7-percent from the floor. The Magic made this game for a quarter and a half but fell behind by double-digits midway through the second quarter while the Pelicans used Zion Williamson as point guard and they just kept attacking the paint with the Magic unable to stop them or keep them off the glass.

All of the Magic’s overarching problems since the trade deadline came to roost throughout the course of the game. Made worse by the absence of so many key players who help this team function.

D. . C. Orlando Magic. MOHAMED BAMBA

We wanted to see what Mohamed Bamba would look like with a start with this new-look team. He has largely played well coming off the bench with the increase in minutes and the lack of pressure from players behind him on the depth chart. But this was an opportunity lost for Bamba. Not only did he miss shots when the game mattered, but he played extremely poorly at the one thing he was supposed to be good at. Bamba just gives no presence in the paint or rim protection.

Bamba’s stat line will cosmetically look good — 17 points, 12 rebounds, 6-for-15 shooting in a career-high 28 minutes. That feels like it should be a good game for Bamba. But he constantly overcommitted to the ball on drives into the paint and got beat to the offensive glass by Steven Adams. Adams is a good rebounder anyway, but Bamba was just moved out of the way constantly.

He just gave little presence. And his 3-point shot was off early. He missed most of his shots when the game was in the balance. Most of his scoring came in the second half when Adams left the game with an ankle injury and the game was far out of reach.

F. Orlando Magic. CHUMA OKEKE. C-.

Chuma Okeke‘s shooting slump continues. This game was as bad as it has been for Okeke in his rookie year. His shot was not going in and he did not seem able to make anything else good happen either. Okeke finished the game with four points on 1-for-12 shooting, including missing all four 3-pointers. He missed plenty of open looks and he continues to make relatively good shot decisions. But for whatever reason, the shots are not going down for him.

Okeke’s defense was relatively solid. It was a big ask for him to guard Zion Williamson. He largely made him work to get into the paint when they were matched up. But Okeke was not slowing him down — despite that viral video of him from his college days against Williamson. The Magic have to figure out how to get Okeke out of his rookie wall.

B. . PG. Orlando Magic. COLE ANTHONY

Coach Steve Clifford did not feel any of his players outside of Chasson Randle played well. But I will give some credit to a few players who played with good energy throughout the game and at least seemed to get something out of the game while the score still mattered. Cole Anthony is the start. He was the team’s catalyst in the early part of the game and continued to do a good job controlling the pace of the game and attacking the basket and the paint.

He finished the game with 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting, making 2 of 4 3-pointers. He could have done a bit better moving the ball, but then again, nobody was making shots. In the second half, he started forcing his shots a bit more as he was trying to force the team back into the game. That is not where he is going to find success for this team.

. PG. Orlando Magic. R.J. HAMPTON. B

R.J. Hampton was also one of the few players who seemed to play with energy and effort throughout the game. He got a few opportunities to get into the open floor and that is where he thrived. He was quick getting to the basket and comfortable in the open court. The Magic need to be looking for him to get out on the break whenever he has the chance to do so.

Other than a few of those fast-break chances, Hampton had a few nice flip shots flourishes around the basket on his way to 10 points on 5-for-13 shooting. He had the assignment on Brandon Ingram on a few occasions. But that was a tough assignment for him and he was already in rhythm by the time they matched up.

. 26-33. 11th West. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS. A+

There was not much the New Orleans Pelicans did poorly in this game. They were living in the paint throughout the entire game, even when they seemed to be lazing their way through the game. By the second quarter, the Pelicans were just scoring at will against the Magic. New Orleans got 29 points from Brandon Ingram and 23 points from Zion Williamson. But everyone had a hand in breaking the Magic’s defense completely apart.

New Orleans finished with 34 assists on 50 field goals. They had 58 rebounds, including 12 offensive rebounds for 18 second-chance points. The Pelicans just did whatever they wanted. The Magic might have been able to stem the tide with some confidence by hitting shots. But that was not in the cards for this one.

Next. Cole Anthony's inefficiency should not be a worry. dark

The Magic fall to 18-41, 14th in the Eastern Conference. They trail the Washington Wizards by 7.5 games for the final spot in the Play-In Tournament.

The Magic have been eliminated from avoiding the Play-In Tournament. They will be eliminated from the Playoffs completely with any combination of seven losses or seven Wizards wins.

The Orlando Magic are tied with the Detroit Pistons for the third-best odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery with 13 games to play.

The Orlando Magic return to action at the Amway Center on Sunday against the Indiana Pacers.