The Orlando Magic fell to the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday 88-71, in a game where they only made six field goals in the first half.
Eleven players logged minutes for the Magic as they dove deeper into their roster. Anthony Black and Jett Howard sat out after playing the first three games in Las Vegas.
Guard Dexter Dennis took advantage, leading the way with 16 points.
As for Portland, Michael Devoe led the team in scoring with 18 points. But in the first half, it was Shaedon Sharpe who had 12 points in 13 minutes – looking like what every fan base hopes a sophomore looks like in summer league.
The Magic just did not have the horses to keep up with the Blazers and their main roster players who were still playing. Not by a long shot.
After a strong start, the Magic came undone when their second unit came into the game once again. And they got buried in an avalanche. A 21-0 run by Portland that spanned from the first to the second quarter gave the Blazers a monstrous 45-19 lead at the halfway point.
And it surely made for an interesting game dynamic where the final score was an afterthought before halftime and it really never mattered.
It truly epitomized Summer League basketball because even though it is a meaningless game in July, it would be nice to say the final score does matter when the players are out there on the court.
But alas, the game matter more for the players and their individual performance rather than the final outcome of the glorified scrimmage.
So what did tonight’s outcome mean – especially if nothing matters like I have said over and over now?
For starters, Orlando has fallen to the bottom of the Summer League standings. But do not worry, for the die-hard fans, there will be more basketball.
Holding an 0-4 record, Orlando gets the honor of participating in the consolation bracket where they will play Saturday against the Boston Celtics.
Sarcasm aside, one extra game for the players trying to put good tape out there to make an NBA roster or sign a contract either overseas or in the G-League is never a bad thing.
And it is exactly why Orlando has a 22-man roster. We will see – as we did Thursday – guys continue to fight for their right to hoop in the NBA.
Moving into some specific player storylines:
Prized rookies, Anthony Black and Jett Howard sat out, the fifth matchup for the Magic in Las Vegas will probably be the same. Thus the “will-they-won’t-they” storyline will be put to rest.
And it makes sense. For the Magic front office, they have seen each player take their lumps as well as rise to the occasion.
Those guys are going to be on the court come October. And honestly, it has been nice to see both lottery picks make it out healthy.
So it is now more about sifting through the other 20 players to find who will fit the bill for the coveted two-way contracts the Magic have available.
Orlando has two open roster spots and it could be any number of players.
At the start of Summer League, many suggested that name could be Kai Sotto. Tonight, he logged 13 minutes while tallying six points and four rebounds.
A lot of fans were happy to see him get a long-awaited opportunity to play in the NBA, and when the news dropped soon after Bol Bol was released by the Magic, it seemed as if stars were aligning.
But after not seeing any action in the first three games, he started behind the eight-ball and will need to make the most out of the fifth–and potentially last–game on Saturday.
D.J. Wilson has been somebody picking up some steam as of late.
The forward out of Michigan (the Magic seem to like that) played well against the New York Knicks on Wednesday and Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers he had 11 points and two blocks in 13 minutes.
He also grabbed six boards but the overall effect on the glass was not felt as Orlando was out-rebounded 56 to 39 for the game.
Robert Baker has gotten consistent minutes so far in the Summer league. But his best game is still when he reached double-digit points against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.
Quinndary Weatherspoon got his shine during Orlando’s matchup with the Knicks when he shot 7 for 13 for 17 points in 27 minutes on the floor.
Certainly an improvement from his slow start against the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers where he had five total points on 2-for-10 shooting from the field.
Tonight he had 11 points, six assists and five rebounds in 28 minutes of play. It is a sign that Magic summer league coach Dylan Murphy wants to see more of him.
For Caleb Houston and Kevon Harris, it appears their fates have been decided to a certain extent as they did not play. Having both been a part of the Magic organization last season, and each putting in minutes in a lot of NBA games, they will be back.
But who knows to what capacity? Whoever fills the open spots, and whoever can keep their current spots remains to be seen. The Magic hold their cards close to their chest so we may not know until after the last matchup.
Regardless of personnel moves, the Magic will play in their final Summer League game against the Celtics in a couple of days. Surely, more answers will be provided after that matchup.