Denton: Block Heard 'Round the World
By John Denton
Jan. 9, 2014
SACRAMENTO – Not long after the Orlando Magic’s game in Portland on Wednesday night, Victor Oladipo’s cell phone began to buzz relentlessly with one text message after another.
Several of his friends saw his jaw-dropping block of Portland point guard Damian Lillard’s dunk attempt and wanted Oladipo to know that his play was ranked No. 4 on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 Plays of the night.
As much as that brought him pleasure, Oladipo said he gladly would have traded the blocked shot for a Magic victory that seemed possible most of the night before a fourth quarter-faltering that led to a 110-94 loss.
``I found out because my friends were texting me, `I saw you on SportsCenter,’ and stuff like that. But I try not to watch it too much,’’ Oladipo said on Thursday from Sacramento where his Magic will face the Kings on Friday night. ``A couple of guys sent (video of the block) to me and it was pretty cool. It was pretty athletic play, but I would have liked to have won the game, though.’’
Following a turnover, Oladipo hustled back on defense and didn’t back down even though he was facing a two-on-one fastbreak against Nicolas Batum and Lillard. He properly stopped the ball, making Batum pass it early. That gave Oladipo time to recover in time to defend Lillard, who had cocked the ball high overhead for a potential dunk.
However, Oladipo went up to a point where his elbow was rim high, and he perfectly timed Lillard’s dunk attempt. Oladipo swatted the ball so hard that it bounced back to the 3-point line. ``The best thing is that he played forward and wasn’t considering what happened previous to get himself in that situation,’’ said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, referring to Oladipo’s bad pass before the block. ``That single possession is what mattered the most at the time.’’
Vaughn also credited Oladipo for hustling back on a play where some players might have checked out of. It occurred with 5:57 left in the fourth quarter and Orlando trailing 90-82. Magic guard Jameer Nelson, who was on the floor at the time of the blocked shot, marveled at the play made by his rookie backcourt mate.
``He’s a young, athletic guy and he got pretty high up there,’’ Nelson said. ``I didn’t know that Lillard was actually going to try to dunk on him. But (Oladipo) got him.’’
Nelson said that Oladipo usually makes at least one play a night where he shows off the enormous potential he possesses. Nelson is hopeful that Oladipo will eventually grow into being the type of player that Orlando can build its team around.
``It’s definitely fun to see him grow, and he’s growing and we see it every game,’’ Nelson said. ``He’s going to be a good player in this league for a long time as long as he continues to work and get better.’’