Summer League Recap: Magic 83, Sixers 77
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By John Denton
July 5, 2014
ORLANDO -- More experienced from a full season of NBA action and 20 pounds lighter from an offseason of work, Victor Oladipo was easily the best player on the floor in the Orlando Magic’s Summer League opener on Saturday.
Oladipo’s improvement showed in his 18 points, six rebounds and three assists in Orlando’s 83-77 defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers in first-day action of the Orlando Pro Summer League.
``From the jump they want me to lead the team and be a leader out there, so that’s the only way I know how to lead – with high energy how I play,’’ Oladipo said. ``I feel like the guys fed off me and I had to bring it. I felt like I did a good job with that today. I had some little tiny mistakes, but everything is correctable and I can get a lot better.’’
Another player from the 2013 NBA Draft, Nerlens Noel, played exceptionally well to steal the spotlight away from 2014 lottery picks Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton. Playing in his first game action in 17 months, Noel opened the game with a thunderous dunk and finished with 19 points and four steals.
Noel, last season’s No. 6 pick, showed no ill effects of rust or the left ACL that he tore on Feb. 12, 2013 while playing at the University of Kentucky. He made six of 11 shots and his only negative was that he corralled just two rebounds in 26 minutes.
Gordon, the No. 4 pick in the draft by Orlando, had the play of the game in the fourth quarter when he came out of nowhere to swipe K.J. McDaniels’ layup attempt out of the air. Gordon didn’t shoot the ball well (3 of 11) and played with some jitters at times, but his athletic blocked shot filled the gymnasium with oohs and ahhs.
``A lot of people swat it into the second row and it’s unnecessary,’’ said Gordon, who is the Magic’s youngest player at 18 years old. ``But if you can get it and go the other way, (do it). But I got a little excited and tried to push it, but you aren’t supposed to try and go behind the back in open court. I broke a Cardinal rule and that’s a smart basketball play.’’
Elfrid Payton, the No. 10 pick who was traded from Philadelphia to Orlando on draft night, was swarmed most of the day and turned the ball over four times. But he played better in the second half and finished with five assists and two points off a banked-in driving shot in the lane.
Devyn Marble, a second-round pick fighting to make the Magic, had 13 points and two 3-pointers. Seth Curry, brother of Golden State star Steph Curry, hit two threes and scored nine. Kadeem Batts added 13 points for Orlando (1-0).
The Magic led 46-43 at the half behind a strong start from Oladipo and some solid 3-point shooting. Orlando hit six of 12 3-pointers in the first half to grab the lead.
Oladipo stripped the ball away from Casper Ware at midcourt and finished on the other end as he was fouled to get himself going early in the game. Oladipo had nine points and three rebounds early in the game, but most importantly the team was a plus-10 in scoring with him running the offense.
Gordon showed off his athleticism early on by leaping high for a couple of rebounds. His first two shots were offline, but he scored his first NBA points on a breakaway dunk. He also showed good explosiveness off the dribble by getting into the lane for two free throws.
Marble, who is in a fight for a roster spot because of his second-round draft position, drilled two 3-pointers in the first half and had a stretch of eight straight points for the Magic. Curry also had a stretch of eight straight points for the Magic.
Noel seemed excited about his first game action in more than a year, scoring 11 points in the first half. He opened the game with an up-and-under dunk on Magic center Dewayne Dedmon and converted a couple of hook shots and a nifty floater in the lane.
Philadelphia guard Pierre Jackson suffered a devastating injury in the first half when he tried to get free from Payton and ruptured the Achilles tendon in his right foot. He lay on the floor in agony for more than a minute as the teams continued action.