Orlando lost its fifth game in a row tonight against Houston, despite making a spirited fourth quarter comeback that ended up being 10 points too short. Houston made shots and Orlando didn't make shots-- that was the bottom line is this result. here are your three takeaways from the game.
Why Has Orlando's Offense Been So Stagnant?
One cause that we can easily shelve the blame to is the absence of starting center Nik Vucevic (and Tobias Harris, if he counts). Throughout this young season, Vucevic has done a great job of either being able to score points out of the post or the elbow, yet he has also been able to kick the rock back out to open shooters/cutters all the while. Glen Davis, Andrew Nicholson, and Jason Maxiell simply cannot fill that void for Orlando-- especially on the offensive end and on the boards. The Magic do not have a player who can go one-on-one and "take over games", which is why we often see them go through these rough stretches in untimely spurts.
One thing that the Magic did a terrible job of doing tonight was their failure to convert shots at the rim, which is supposed to be the highest-percentage zone on the floor. A team can usually deal with one player going stone-cold from the floor, but it was an epidemic in the Magic lineup tonight, which went to the tune of a 34.4 percent showing from the field. The opportunities were there for Orlando's taking, but they simply didn't take advantage of their layups and putbacks in tonight's contest.
You cannot shoot 40% around the rim in this league and expect to win a game, plain and simple.
Off Night For Oladipo
The second overall pick in this year's draft had found a nice little groove coming into tonight's game, but tonight surely served as a bump in the road in his progression. Oladipo went 2-for-11 from the field in an 8-point effort, and also failed to register an assist for the first time in his short career. Turnovers weren't the problem tonight as he only had two, but the Indiana product failed to score at the rim on a multitude of occasions. In addition, Oladipo took a couple off-balance shots and long two-pointers that weren't high-percentage looks, which enabled Jacque Vaughn to give him the quick hook more than once in this game.
It's a long season, he's a rookie, and there are peaks and valleys in a player's maturation process. Tonight was a valley for number 5.
MAKE YOUR FREEBIES
After seeing an improvement in team free throw percentage last season due to the departure of Dwight Howard, Orlando has taken a step back in that department so far this year. Orlando went a dismal 16-for-28 from the charity stripe in tonight's game against Houston, good for a 57.1 percent clip. If the Magic want to return to prominence and take that metaphorical "next step" in the rebuilding process, it's going to be a result of improving upon the little things that prove to come up so big on a night to night basis. A couple of made free throws could have closed the gap on a multitude of occasions tonight, and you could say the same for several other games this year. This is an easy way for Orlando to improve their scoring effort-- they do call it the "charity" stripe for a reason.
By: Jake Smith