Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Preseason Game #4: Magic @ Pistons Recap


A lot of defensive lapses. You know it's bad when the FOX Sports Detroit crew goes freeze frame on an opponent's weak defending. Coming into the Palace of Auburn Hills, the Jacque Vaughn's Orlando crew easily could have been 3-0 instead of 0-3. On Monday night, the Magic lost in Cleveland 114-111 in overtime nonetheless. Well there was no way the Magic should have won in Detroit on Tuesday night. Orlando gets to go home after two road losses in 24 hours. It's tough to be positive after a 112-86 smackdown, preseason or not. 


Vaughn's starting five of E'Twaun Moore-DeQuan Jones-Quentin Richardson-Josh McRoberts-Gustavo Ayon doesn't instill much confidence in your fan base. Lawrence Frank was not shy to play his expected regular season Pistons starters. Frank appeared to be working on his real rotation. For a fourth straight game, Jacque's help defense approach led to a lot of wide open jump shots for our opponent. However, for the first time this October the Magic's offense was absolutely stagnant. The Pistons' overall size and length advantage over Orlando played a major factor in this beatdown all night. Detroit's speed is scary. Very ugly at times and Detroit had this contest at hand almost from the beginning. No Jameer Nelson, JJ Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, Nikola Vucevic, Glen Davis (despite being charged with a technical) and Andrew Nicholson will do that. That's on top of Al Harrington, Arron Afflalo, Ish Smith, and Christian Eyenga already being out this entire preseason so far. It was encouraging to see Orlando begin the 3rd on a 9-2 run despite being down 38-62 at halftime. Then an 11-2 in the middle of the 3rd period by Detroit basically ended the game right then and there. Heading into the 4th quarter, the Magic were down 88-61. Game over. I didn't blame you if you switched to the Obama-Romney debate at 9 p.m. EST. It was pleasantly surprising seeing Jacque Vaughn actually stand up and show some fire in his eyes. 

E'Twaun Moore started off nicely by scoring Orlando's first 5 points. I still don't like him as a point guard though. He can dish it, but Armon Johnson's ball handling skills are still exceedingly more impressive than Moore's. Moore is still an upgrade over Chris Duhon. There's little doubt. Defensively, he can be a spark plug. But he can shoot the rock and thread some needle passes. 



DeQuan Jones' first career NBA start (Eh, we'll count preseason for the Miami Hurricane) was Monday night in Cleveland where he impressed against the much more highly-touted Dion Waiters. Jones started once more on Tuesday. For a man who can't shoot, DeQuan Jones again just keeps displaying a gorgeous 'silky smooth' jumper. Multiple times. One of the few bright spots in a mud-stomping. Oh, and he can still dunk, making Jonas Jerebko a victim and throwing down some pure thunder. A rim rocker indeed. Don't expect Jones to be able to lock down a muscular guy like Corey Maggette though. 16 points scored through the first three quarters while still providing some decent defense will make Vaughn happy. 22 total points on the evening is great. 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 5 turnovers? Eh, not so much. Kobe Bryant maybe would've been proud. I'm a huge fan of DeQuan, and so should the majority of Magic fans. Keep Jones this roster, permanently. 

Josh McRoberts can't play much defense, but the man can dunk. Threw down a thunderous 1st quarter windmill with so much force it almost knocked off Q-Rich's head. Unlike Redick, I don't want this Dukie to shoot jumpers. Ever. Sweet little no-look pass to a cutting Justin Harper for a lay-up in the first half. Same goes for a behind-the-back baseline dish to a cutting Ayon early in the 3rd quarter. Also, used his athleticism to drive around Jason Maxiell for a smooth right-handed jam. 

Gustavo Ayon had a lot of problems trying to score on Greg Monroe early on. 'Goose' even allowed Monroe to beat him on one fastbreak. That'll be a rarity this season. About midway through the first period though, Gustavo settled down and got back to crashing the paint hard. He used his bag of tricks to creatively throw up a few reverse lay-up attempts. The Mexican had a lot of problems against the larger Andre Drummond. Then there were a few turnovers off post-ups which we expected from Dwight for 8 years. I was thrilled to finally see Ayon drill a 17-foot jumper from the left elbow and take a few more jumpers with as much confidence as Big Baby usually has, but Goose exhumed more faith in his shot. Despite his 4 turnovers, Gustavo poured in 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in the first half. I just expect so much from the former New Orleans Hornet. Heading into the final period, Goose was at 17 points. Ayon finished with a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. 



Kyle O'Quinn kept Jason Maxiell and Greg Monroe on their toes in the first half. Otis Smith's look-a-like is improving every game it appears. Remember, he didn't play Monday night in Cleveland. Andre Drummond did prove very problematic though with his sheer size. Kyle had a solid block on former Magic man Corey Maggette. Monroe made several jumpers over Kyle, but that's what you'd prefer. The alternative is have Greg crush you in the post. O'Quinn nabbed 8 rebounds but seemed out of his element as the blowout progressed. O'Quinn over-commits on help defense and gets burned in that instance. 

Chris Johnson won't be making this team. That is all. #24 may not last the weekend at this rate. Banging knees with Kim English didn't help the cause. Did rack up some points though including a 3-pointer. Not a defensive asset though. I'd add Quentin Richardson to the cut list if he didn't have a guaranteed deal. Q-Rich just can't keep up with the uptempo style Jacque wants to play. I'm ready to see Justin Harper and Armon Johnson get sent away as well. Armon can't provide much assistance on offense or defense. Can't pass, can't really shoot. He can bring the ball up the court, and attack the rim. That's about it. It may have been decent enough for SVG to use him last season, but not now. It's bad when Will Bynum was hurting late in the third, stayed in, and Armon couldn't execute against him.




I defended Harper for so long from the day he was drafted, but no more. Can't do it. Harper may need to go back to Europe to earn a living. Any bit of offensive potential gets trumped by massive defensive faults and inefficiencies. Harper would make a few jumpers, then give it all back and more to guys like Kyle Singler and Tayshaun Prince. Justin scored 11 points tonight, but probably gave up 31 on the other end. Unforgivable defense. Now I know what Vincent Collet in Strasbourg was griping about. 

At 0-4, and halfway through preseason, I think DeQuan Jones will make the Magic roster. I want Josh McRoberts, Justin Harper, and Quentin Richardson bought out or traded now. Make it happen, Hennigan. Then just cut Armon and Chris Johnson. Orlando has 3 homes games and a trip to Memphis to close out the month of October. Jacque and Henny should have seen enough already to get a great idea of who will still be on the 15-man roster come opening night against Denver. 


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