Denton's Dish: The 5th Quarter (4/16/14)
By John Denton
April 16, 2014
ORLANDO – With both Orlando and Indiana resting several of their veteran players, the Pacers broke open a close game in the third quarter and cruised to a 101-86 defeat of the Magic in the regular-season finale.
Here are five takeaways from the Magic’s final game of the season:
ROOKIE REVIEW: For the final assist of his rookie season, Victor Oladipo will have to fetch Krispy Kreme donuts and Chik-Fil-A chicken bites for breakfast for the team on Thursday morning.
Oladipo ended his rookie season on the floor with a bang Wednesday night, stealing a cross-court pass and racing down the floor for a thunderous dunk. A few seconds later, Oladipo was out of the game for good. He played just 17 minutes and finished with four points and one assist.
Despite the grind of the NBA’s marathon, 82-game season, Oladipo marveled at how quickly his first year in the NBA flew past. He called his first game in Indianapolis – not far from where he starred in college at Indiana University – his greatest highlight because he got a standing ovation from the Hoosier faithful in the crowd.
``I just want to thank God for getting me through the year, bringing me to this point and all of the blessings that He has given to me and my family,’’ Oladipo said. ``For me going through this year is a blessing. I know that there are plenty of better years to come. It’s crazy to see how fast the year went. You can never take any day for granted because Father Time waits for no man. So I have to take every day like it’s my last and take advantage of it.’’
For the season, Oladipo averaged 13.8 points, 4.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals. Over 80 games, he played 2,486 minutes.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: Despite the night being the end to an otherwise rough season, an energetic crowd of 18,846 packed the Amway Center.
It was the third sellout of the season for the Magic at the Amway Center. Over the 41 home games of the season, the Magic averaged 16,245 fans a game.
MOTIVATION FOR THE OFFSEASON: Tobias Harris scored six points in 10 minutes off the bench, but he did not play after halftime on Wednesday. For the season, Harris averaged 14.6 points and 7.0 rebounds. He did so while splitting his time between starting (36 games) and coming off the bench (25 games) and while playing power forward and small forward.
After two years of losing, Harris said he would attack the offseason to make sure that he came back a better player next season. He desperately wants to get the Magic into a position where they are competing for a playoff spot this time next year.
``For me, two years of not getting to the playoffs is tough and that’s the goal of every player,’’ Harris said. ``Going into this offseason, it’s motivation for me and my teammates to be better.’’
NO NELSON ON WEDNESDAY...AND MAYBE FOREVERThe Magic continued to play it safe on Wednesday night with veteran point guard Jameer Nelson, who missed his third straight game with a strained groin.
Nelson, 32, has one year remaining on his contract with the Magic, but it is at the team’s option. Orlando has until July 15 to decide whether or not it wants to pick up the option and retain the 10-year veteran.
Nelson takes great pride in the fact that he’s only played for the Magic in his career. Nelson, along with Magic Hall of Fame member Nick Anderson, are the only two players in franchise history to play 10 seasons in Orlando. He said earlier in the week that he is very much worried about his future and that he hopes he is still playing for the Magic next season.
Nelson is the Magic’s all-time leader in assists and he needs just 41 more games to equal Anderson for the team lead in games played at 692. Nelson also passed Shaquille O’Neal this season for fourth on the squad’s all-time scoring list. For this season, Nelson was fifth on the team in scoring (12.1 ppg.) and eighth in the NBA in assists per game (7.0).
Vaughn said that regardless of whether Nelson returns or not, his influence on the young players on the Magic will live on for years. ``What he’s been, along with the other veterans on our team, is extremely important to our locker room,’’ Vaughn said. ``We have a young group that hasn’t experienced a lot of things that the NBA entails and it’s about on a daily basis and he’s done it. He’s able to pull a player to the side and have a conversation with me or showing guys on the floor, Jameer has been really good.’’
Nelson was chosen to speak to the Amway Center crowd before the game and he thanked the fans for their support this season.
QUOTABLE: ``I wish we would have won the (last) game. Unfortunately we didn’t, but as coach said, `It’s a good game for us going into the offseason because we know what we have to work on.’ There are a lot of things to work on. Perhaps we turn the outcome of this game around next season.’’ – Magic center Kyle O’Quinn