Summer League Recap: Magic 87, Rockets 69

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By John Denton
July 7, 2014

ORLANDO -- Orlando Magic point guard Elfrid Payton’s Monday started much the same way that his NBA debut went on Saturday – with a host of unsightly turnovers. This time, however, the rookie got his jitters under control and showed exactly why he was the No. 10 pick in last month’s NBA Draft.

Payton, whom the Magic traded for on draft night, dominated Monday’s game throughout with his abilities as a drive-and-dish point guard and led Orlando to an 87-69 defeat of Houston in third-day play of the Orlando Pro Summer League.

``I was just coming out today trying to be more aggressive,’’ said Payton, who didn’t miss a shot and compiled 12 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in 28 minutes. ``That’s something that separates me and I need to do a better job of that.’’

Orlando (2-0) got strong play from rookies Aaron Gordon (nine points and seven rebounds) and Payton to coast to the lopsided victory. The Magic, who rested standout guard Victor Oladipo, led by as many as 23 points in the first half and cruised the rest of the way.

Payton made all five of his shots after hitting just one banked-in runner in Saturday’s shaky debut. On Monday, he repeatedly got into the lane and made plays either for himself or others. This time, he shook off a poor early start to thrive.

``I started out with three quick turnovers, but I was able to settle in and limit that the rest of the game,’’ Payton said. ``I think I did a good job of (driving) today. I got help from my teammates, getting angles and I was able to get (in the paint) today.’’

Houston (0-2) rallied to get within 78-67 late in the fourth quarter. Nick Johnson, a collegiate teammate of Gordon’s at the University of Arizona, had 13 points for the Rockets. Cjhris Crawford had 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists off the bench.

The Magic took apart the Rockets in the first half behind stellar play from the rookie triumvirate of Payton, Gordon and Marble and led 54-31 at the break. Even with Oladipo not playing and watching from the bench, Orlando stormed to a 23-11 first-quarter lead and never looked back.

Payton looked skittish in his NBA debut on Saturday with four turnovers and he opened Monday’s game with a bad pass that led to a layup on the other end. But Payton righted the ship in a big way by aggressively attacking the rim. He twice got into the paint and dished to Dewayne Dedmon for alley-oop dunks. Later, Payton blew past Houston’s Chris Kramer for a two-handed dunk and he put back a missed shot just before the halftime horn to give the Magic a commanding 23-point lead.

Gordon, the No. 4 pick in June’s NBA Draft, was aggressive and playing without the jitters that accompanied him during his Saturday debut. He screamed into the air after a layup that sent Houston into a timeout. Later in the first half, he rubbed off a screen to convert a floater and he then confidently stroked a 20-foot shot from the wing and left his shooting hand cocked in the air for an extended period of time. In 13 first-half minutes, Gordon had nine points and six rebounds.

``The jitters were there maybe at the beginning, but once the game starts it’s just playing basketball,’’ Gordon said. ``I’m having fun out there. Now, I’m just adjusting and trying to make the right reads.’’

Marble, a second-round pick, continued his stellar play with seven first-half points. He got to the free throw line seven times in the game’s first 20 minutes. He finished with nine points and seven rebounds despite missing eight of his nine field goal attempts.