ORLANDO - With 28 assists during their thrashing of the Lakers, the Magic have now dished out more than 25 dimes 10 times this season.
Over the last 10 games, Orlando ranks fourth in the league in assists, averaging a shade over 26 of them during this stretch. The only teams that rank ahead of the Magic are the Warriors, Bucks and Pelicans.
Saturday’s showing was another reminder of just how unselfish and cohesive this team has become.
Most teams rely on one, maybe two, playmakers to set up teammates. Not the Magic, though, as not one player on the team ranks in the top 25 in assists. That’s because they do it by committee – sharing the rock, making extra passes and infrequently settling for contested shots.
Earlier this year when the Magic ranked near the bottom in field goal percentage, both inside and outside the arc, Steve Clifford repeatedly said he liked the shots his team was taking. He predicted that eventually shots will fall, and felt strongly his players were developing good habits.
By playing such a healthy brand of basketball, which has helped them win six of their last eight games, the Magic’s players have built up a ton of trust in one another. The key now is to not lose sight of what is working and not revert back to old, unfavorable sequences.
There are so many examples from the win over the Lakers that show how selfless the Magic were and how unified they looked.
Perhaps the best two of them were where D.J. Augustin passed up good shots for great shots.
Something else that is really striking is that the team’s top scorers, Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross, are all on pace to set career highs in assists this season.
Gordon has registered at least three assists in nine of the 15 games he has appeared in so far this year, something he did in just 20 of the 58 games he played in last season.