Postgame Report: Magic vs. Heat

by Josh Cohen

LAS VEGAS - Being able to watch and learn from Nikola Vucevic, a first-time All-Star last season who re-signed with the Magic late last week, greatly benefited Amile Jefferson, one of the team’s two-way players in 2018-19.

With all that knowledge stored in his mind after being around Orlando’s longest-tenured player for a big portion of the year, Jefferson has been able to implement many of Vucevic’s top qualities into his own game.

Tuesday’s performance during the Magic’s 96-92 loss to the Miami Heat was a great example of this. The former Duke Blue Devil, who won an NCAA title in 2015, displayed excellent court vision, decision making and low-post creativity as part of his 24-point, 15-rebound, three-assist and two-steal afternoon.

“I spent this summer in Orlando really working with coach Ty Corbin and coach Bruce (Kreutzer) on my shooting and me and coach Ty have just been working on being a threat when the opportunity presents itself,” the 6-foot-9, 224-pounder said. “Quick moves, I think I’m doing a really good job of making quick decisions especially when it comes to getting to the rim. I feel really comfortable out there.”

Unlike Sunday’s loss when they trailed the whole way despite making a pair of furious late-game rallies, the Magic were in control for a large chunk of this contest. They led by 10 early in the first quarter and by 12 late in the second. But, with Miami’s starters, including 2019 lottery draft pick Tyler Herro, all playing at least 30 minutes, Orlando wasn’t able to hold off its rivals from South Florida.

The Magic led by four with just over five minutes left in the fourth when DaQuan Jeffries hit a triple. The lead disappeared quickly, though, as the Heat subsequently went on an 11-4 run. A costly out-of-bounds turnover with 19 seconds left prevented the Magic, who were without Mo Bamba, from getting a chance to tie the game or reclaim the lead.

Bamba, Orlando’s first round draft pick from a year ago, will not play for the remainder of Summer League for precautionary reasons. He played extremely well in the one game he appeared in, scoring 15 points in limited minutes against San Antonio.

While Jefferson led his team in scoring and rebounding, he certainly wasn’t the only one to excel for the Magic, who made 10 3-pointers and dished out 23 assists.

Jeffries, one of the more versatile players in all of Summer League, had his best performance thus far, posting 21 points, three rebounds, six assists and three steals.

What was most encouraging about his contributions was his long-range shooting. The undrafted 21-year-old out of Tulsa made five of his six 3-pointers.

“Just my ability to make shots when I’m open, defend great players on the other team. That’s really it, and bringing my energy to the game,” he said when asked what he demonstrated during this game.

Jeremiah Hill, formerly a Division II college player who earned a spot on the Magic’s G League affiliate in Lakeland after trying out for the team, tallied nine points, five rebounds and nine assists.

Herro led Miami with 25 points, while Kendrick Nunn scored 19. Yante Maten posted a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Heat, who attempted 11 more free throws than the Magic and out-rebounded Orlando by 14.

The Magic return to action on Wednesday when they take on the Brooklyn Nets at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

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