Denton: Magic Look to Bounce Back Against Bobcats

Victor Oladipo

By John Denton
April 4, 2014

CHARLOTTE – Still steamed by a lopsided loss on Wednesday to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic are hoping to relieve some pent-up frustration tonight.

And they will be playing in one of the few places where they have had success on the road this season.

The Magic were uncharacteristically flat on Wednesday against Cleveland, losing 119-98 at the Amway Center. It wasn’t so much the loss that infuriated the Magic as it was the way they fell. Orlando surrendered nine dunks, 10 layups and 64 points in the paint. They are hoping to have a strong bounce-back performance tonight against Charlotte, the last team that they defeated last Friday in Orlando.

``Nobody likes to go out and have a bad showing, especially as a team, so we’re going to come out today and play hard,’’ Magic rookie guard Victor Oladipo said. ``We have to play together.’’

Getting off to a strong start could be a big key for the Magic (21-54), which has struggled at the beginning of games of late. Orlando has fallen into deficits of 16, 21 and 19 points in the first half of late and it had to expend a lot of energy just to get back into games.

The Magic were able to wipe out a 16-point deficit last week against Charlotte and win the game in overtime. But when they got behind on Wednesday against Cleveland, there was no comeback in an unsightly second half. The 21-point defeat was the largest in nearly three months for Orlando.

``You are going to have those down ones throughout the course of the year,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``When I got home I did like I do every night and I looked at the scores across the board and (a blowout) just happens this time of the year. You continue to try to fight that and that’s where consistency comes in where it doesn’t matter what time of the year that it is. We had a great shoot around (Friday) morning and I’m fully confident that we will be ready to play.’’

Orlando owns the NBA’s worst road record at 4-34, but one of those victories came in Charlotte back on December 11. The Magic used strong performances from Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic to pull away in the fourth quarter for that 92-83 victory.

Vucevic was a beast on both ends of the floor when Orlando defeated Charlotte 110-105 a week ago. Not only did he slow down All-NBA candidate Al Jefferson with his long-armed defense, he also contributed 24 points and 23 rebounds. It was his second 20-20 game of the season and the sixth the past two seasons in Orlando.

That performance led to Cleveland double-teaming and digging on Vucevic all throughout Wednesday night’s game. Those traps played a big role in Vucevic being held to 11 shots and just seven points and seven rebounds. Vucevic is well aware that double-teams could be coming again tonight against Charlotte considering the success that he’s had against the Bobcats.

``It’s possible that they could double-team me and that’s something I’m always looking at when I get the ball,’’ Vucevic said. ``But if they do double-team me, it will be an advantage for us. I’ve got to make the right play out of the double team and then we just have to keep the ball moving because it’s faster than any guys. We just have to get good looks. Hopefully, they’ll double-team me tonight and we’ll make good plays out of it.’’