Great Ball Movement, Patience Helped Magic Beat Rockets

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - If you are looking for an example of what great ball movement looks like, the Magic’s possession with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win over the Rockets is a very good illustration.

So good that it may not be outlandish to suggest that it was one of Orlando’s best offensive possessions of the season.

The play ended with a D.J. Augustin 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired. It was the passing that preceded the shot that was most impressive, though.

Another outstanding offensive possession occurred a couple minutes earlier when Terrence Ross knocked down a three. Like the other play, this one also featured terrific ball movement.

The key to both plays was the Magic’s ability to attack the paint and force Houston’s defense to collapse. Augustin’s three was made possible thanks to Aaron Gordon’s drive-and-kick to Evan Fournier a few seconds earlier. Augustin’s drive-and-kick on the other play ultimately led to Ross’ triple.

The kickout pass is arguably the most important single pass in the NBA these days. Read about that here.

The teams who have made the most kickout passes this season are the Raptors, Bucks, Spurs, Wizards and Sixers, per Second Spectrum. The Nuggets and Celtics also rank in the top 10 in this category. The Magic rank 11th.

Also interesting is that the Magic have set more off-ball screens than any other team so far this season, per advanced analytics. Only the Warriors have made more shots directly from off-ball-screens than the Magic.

If they can move the ball like they did in the fourth quarters against both the Celtics and Rockets this past weekend more consistently, the Magic will be a hard team to stop.