Summer League Recap: Magic 96, Pistons 87
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By John Denton
July 11, 2014
ORLANDO -- The Orlando Magic offered up a glimpse of the future on Friday by playing Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton together in the backcourt and seeing both guards shine in a variety of ways.
Oladipo was in attack mode throughout with 22 points, while Payton once again did a little bit of everything for the short-handed Magic with 18 points, eight assists and four steals as Orlando defeated Detroit 96-87.
``Defensively, they are going to be a problem (for foes),’’ said Magic summer league coach Wes Unseld Jr., who led the squad to a 3-2 record in Orlando Pro Summer League play.
Aaron Gordon, the No. 4 pick in the June NBA Draft, also made the best of a challenging situation by scoring 12 points, grabbing five rebounds and handing out three assists in 28 minutes of work. Because of injuries and prior commitments to the Las Vegas Summer League, Orlando had just eight players available and Gordon had to move from his natural position of small forward to center. Still, it was one of his best games of the week because of the way he attacked the paint and finished at the rim.
``I decided to start driving more and let everything else come, that’s what I wanted to do,’’ said Gordon, who averaged 7.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists in five games. ``I got to come back to (attacking). I have to use my body and my quickness to get to the rim and everything else will come and my jumper will start falling. That’s what I have to base my game off of. I got away from (attacking) a little bit, but I’ll make the necessary adjustments.’’
Orlando also got 16 points and five rebounds from second-round pick Devyn Marble, who capped off a stellar week with another strong showing. Seth Curry, who will head to Las Vegas later on Friday to play with the Phoenix Suns Summer League team, chipped in 10 points and two more 3-pointers.
Two former Orlando players, DeAndre Liggins and Justin Harper, led the Pistons (3-2) with 20 and 16 points. Detroit fell behind by as many as 26 points in the third quarter, but it did rally to within seven points of the lead late in the fourth period.
Orlando sealed the game on one of the prettiest plays of the tournament. Payton stripped the ball near midcourt and then found a streaking Oladipo for a spectacular alley-oop. Oladipo marveled at the improvement that Payton made from a shaking start last Saturday to Friday’s finale in the Orlando Pro Summer League.
``I think we played well together,’’ Oladipo said of his on-court chemistry with Payton. ``I can play on ball and he can play off ball or I can off ball and he can play on ball. We can just rotate the whole game. … It’s kind of tough for teams to plan for one person and then another person runs the play. It’s going to be fun playing with him. He plays at a high level, especially on the defensive end. The steal-to-the-lob play was crazy, so I’m looking forward to playing with him and turning people over.’’
The Magic led 52-43 at halftime behind the brilliant start from Payton. Even though he was playing in a lineup that often featured four point guards and Gordon on the floor, Payton took charge as the playmaker. He repeatedly got into the lane and either scored on floaters or made plays for others.
Payton’s best sequence of the first half came midway through the second quarter. A 26 percent 3-point shooter in college, Payton confidently stroked a wing three to put Orlando up 37-29. Then, seconds later when a defender ran him off the 3-point line, Payton got into the paint to make the defense collapse and he fed Devyn Marble for a nifty reserve layup.
He finished the first half with 13 points and four assists. Also, he turned the ball over just two times and the Magic were a plus-six in his 15 minutes on the floor.
``I learned the pace of the game and how quick you have to make decisions,’’ Payton said while summing up what he culled from this week. ``I think I have a pretty good foundation. I think every day I got better and playing with my head.’’