Pelicans Fall to 0-4 via 103-94 Loss to Magic – Running Diary Recap

Published: November 3, 2015
In order to discuss and help recap tonight’s game, I enlisted the help of Eddy Rivera, an avid Orlando Magic follower (formerly of Orlando Pinstriped Post and Magic Basketball) and great basketball mind, not to mention a fellow current Chicagoan. Eddy and I had a back-and-forth email thread as the game progressed, in which we discussed some of the things that stood out to us. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this more than the Pels’ lackluster performance tonight.


Mason Ginsberg (6:43 PM)

First, of all, thanks for offering to do this, Eddy. I know NBA writing has taken sort of a back seat for you lately because #RealWorld (I get it, trust me), so I really appreciate the time tonight. Maybe we can do this in person for our teams’ next match-up since we live in the same city now!

Eddy Rivera (6:51 PM)

Yeah, after covering the Magic for seven seasons at Orlando Pinstriped Post and the now-defunct Magic Basketball, I felt now was the right time to take a step back and be more of an observer of the team rather than a beat writer. As you alluded to, the #RealWorld finally caught up to me. Looking forward to chatting through tonight’s Magic-Pelicans game with you — I’ll have to keep that live chat idea in mind for the rubber match in Orlando!

MG (7:04 PM)

For sure. Anything (or anyone) in particular that/who you’ll be watching for tonight?

ER (7:09 PM)

Aside from that Unibrow character? I’m curious to see if Mario Hezonja will get extended minutestonight. He played only 5 minutes against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, which was odd. He averaged close to 20 minutes per game in the Magic’s first two contests. Who do you have winning tonight’s game?

MG (7:13 PM)

Gotta take the Pelicans at home. Not having Asik hurts because Vucevic scares me on the glass, but Anthony Davis is Anthony Davis. The Pelicans’ current lack of depth due to injury isn’t as much of a dagger against Orlando as it would be against other teams as well.

ER (7:18 PM)

I’d have to favor the Pelicans as well. Simply because they have Anthony Davis and the Magic don’t. It’s been a sloppy start in the first quarter. Both teams are playing at a frenetic pace.

MG (7:22 PM)

Jrue Holiday seems even more aggressive than usual tonight. Clearly trying to make the most of his minutes given the 25 minute limit. Nice to see him looking healthy again and getting into a rhythm. This offensive rebounding barrage from the Magic is pretty troublesome right now, and exactly what I was worried about when mentioning my concern with Asik being out.

ER (7:27 PM)

Yeah, Vucevic has been cleaning up the glass in the first quarter — he has six rebounds already. The Pelicans have done a poor job of putting a body on him and boxing him out.

What’s the plan with Jrue Holiday’s minutes, by the way? I read that they were going to slowly ramp up his playing time as the season progressed, but has the rash of injuries changed that plan?

MG (7:34 PM)

There’s no way for me to definitively know the answer to that. Personally, I think every decision with him so far this season has been medically cleared/supported and that the plan didn’t suddenly change once Tyreke and Cole both got hurt. Right now, the restriction is at 25 minutes, and it will likely remain there for a while (+ no back-to-backs).

So, Pels down 28-17 after one quarter. Biggest disappointment to me wasn’t that the bench got blitzed just now, it’s that the starters couldn’t build any sort of lead. Jrue-Gordon-Babbitt-Davis-Ajinca should have been enough to start strong, but no dice.

ER (7:39 PM)

The biggest problem for the Pelicans in the first quarter was their poor interior defense. The Magic scored 20 of their 28 points in the paint. Evan Fournier did the most damage (eight points in the period). He was aggressive in his drives to the rim.

MG (7:47 PM)

Pelicans trying to weather the storm right now until Jrue and Gordon check back in and doing a pretty poor job. I mean, Anthony Davis just bit on a Jason Smith 3-point pump fake. That can’t happen. NOLA just got into the bonus with 7:30 to go, though, so hopefully that helps. This is basically going to be the AD show for the next few minutes (as it should be).

ER (7:55 PM)

Yeah, that was a bad foul by Dewayne Dedmon on Davis to put the Pelicans into the penalty with plenty of time left in the second quarter. Especially given that New Orleans has been struggling offensively to score in half-court sets. The last thing the Magic want to do is put the Pelicans on the free-throw line and make things easy for them.

MG (8:04 PM)

This has been a very difficult half of basketball to watch. Davis finally demanded the basketball close to the rim and went to work, which is something he should be doing all game against a Magic team that doesn’t have anyone who can come close to matching up with him defensively. Unfortunately, no one on the Pels can stop Vucevic or Fournier. The defense is just unbearable. But hey, a buzzerbeater! Only down by 14 at halftime at home to an 0-3 Magic team now! *facepalm*

ER (8:16 PM)

To be fair, even though the Magic are 0-3, they’ve played the Wizards, Thunder, and Bulls tough. In the case of Washington and Oklahoma City, those were winnable games but Orlando failed to execute down the stretch. Those are all going to be playoff teams this season, so the Pelicans should have expected that the Magic were going to put up a fight and they have.

I’m admittedly surprised that the Pelicans have played with a lack of energy, even with a depleted roster. That’s been the difference in the ballgame. The Magic are simply outworking the Pelicans on both ends of the floor, which has visibly frustrated Alvin Gentry — he picked up a technical foul near the end of the second quarter. If the Pelicans simply play harder in the second half, this is still a winnable game for them.

MG (8:24 PM)

Oh, I’m with you; I think the Magic are certainly better than an 0-3 team. But I think the Pelicans should be as well, and to your point about the lack of energy, that kind of first half showing at home is pretty inexcusable. It was never going to be an easy flip of the switch going from Monty Williams to Alvin Gentry, but the preseason gave at least a little reason to think the adjustment wouldn’t be as difficult as this.

Just as I type that, a quick 5 points from Eric Gordon leads to a quick Magic timeout. Hopefully the team can keep this up. Really, Anthony Davis should be close to enough by himself to gain ground, but he had the team’s worst +/- in the first half.

ER (8:35 PM)

Not only did Anthony Davis have the Pelicans’ worst plus-minus in the first half, but he’s been oddly quiet overall — just eight points and six rebounds, and we’re past the midway point in the third quarter.

The Pelicans’ best player has been Eric Gordon, by far. He has 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the floor and looks spry (knock on wood). Which is great to see, because I think people forget how good he is when he’s healthy.

MG (8:40 PM)

Even last season when pretty close to 100%, Gordon was actually a pretty average player apart from his fantastic 3-point shooting. If the Pels can get more from him (especially on defense) this season, it would be huge (and in his best interest in a contract year). And hey, another 3! if only someone else could score. Everyone else for the Pels is throwing up bricks.

…except Anderson!

ER (8:54 PM)

Eric Gordon has certainly been an average player the past few years, but he still has those flashes of brilliance from his days with the Los Angeles Clippers when he was a budding star before injuries derailed his career. We’re seeing it tonight against the Magic.

Orlando is up 78-71 early in the fourth quarter and C.J. Watson just got popped in the mouth by Toney Douglas as he was attacking the rim in transition. Ouch! Hope he’s okay. Douglas got called for an offensive foul.

MG (9:00 PM)

The Pelicans just can’t sustain any sort of run. They keep cutting the Magic lead back to 6 or so, then giving up a couple easy buckets. Like just now. 84-74 now. More defensive breakdowns and miscommunication. In the preseason, the players raved about how much simpler Darren Erman’s new defensive system would be to understand and execute, but there have been some serious growing pains thus far. Asik will help, obviously, but there still shouldn’t be this many lapses.

Make that 87-74. 7-0 run. Davis back in with Gordon, & I’d expect Jrue back soon. Gotta make a run soon or the Pels are staring 0-4 right in the face.

ER (9:09 PM)

We’re officially in crunch time, as the Magic are up by — you guessed it — six points on the Pelicans with less than five minutes in the game. As you mentioned, the Pelicans keep cutting into the Magic’s lead but they’ve been unable to close the gap. Do they have one more run in them to steal a victory at home? The Magic have led the entire game and have been the better team tonight.

MG (9:11 PM)

No arguments there. Two straight Pelicans defensive possessions gave up an easy dunk for a cutting Payton and a baseline in-bounds pass for a layup. Just brutal defense, with far more questions than answers.

BIG missed layup by Payton there with 20 seconds left on a fresh shot clock, followed by an equally big miss by Babbitt on a wide open corner 3-point attempt. Vucevic with another bucket, and the Magic lead by 7 with 1:30 to go.

ER (9:19 PM)

Evan Fournier with the dagger. He made a 3-point shot with 39.8 seconds left that ballooned the Magic’s lead back to 10 and effectively ended the game. Magic get their first win of the season. Pelicans fall to 0-4. Sorry, Mason!

MG (9:24 PM)

Conveniently, “sorry” is also a fitting word to describe the Pelicans’ all-around performance tonight. Only 12 shot attempts from Anthony Davis, and only 14 points to show for it. Toney Douglas (6 points on 9 FGA) was the only Pelicans player to average more than 1.2 points per field goal attempt, and that wasn’t even the team’s biggest problem tonight. It wasn’t even Vucevic; while his 13 boards were impactful, 22 points on 21 shots isn’t going to beat you. Evan Fournier buried the Pelicans tonight. As our own Michael McNamara predicted before the game, the New Orleans guards made him an afterthought, and he burned them.

Win or lose, thanks for chatting tonight, Eddy! Let’s do it again sometime (ideally with better results on my end).

ER (9:38 PM)

Again, I’m admittedly surprised that the Pelicans played with a lack of energy. Especially Anthony Davis, who played with little effort. His inability to be the best player on the floor tonight for the Pelicans (which should normally be a given) is the biggest reason they lost the game. That, and Evan Fournier scoring a career-high 30 points for the Magic. He was fantastic.

And likewise. Thanks for allowing me to chat with you! It was a pleasure.


Thanks again to Eddy for the help tonight – you can follow him on Twitter here. The Pelicans’ next game is another home contest against the NBA version of Atlanta’s dirty birds; with 2 more days off before then, hopefully the Pelicans can start fixing some of the issues we have seen thus far.


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