Gregg Popovich's San Antonio Spurs hopped and skipped their way into Amway Center and improved to 13-3 as they annihilated the Magic 110-89. Spurs are still a championship contender. The now 5-9 Magic once again coughed up too many turnovers, displayed countless atrocious defensive rotations, and a lack of transition attack. It's the first time Orlando has truly been out-matched so badly. 2-for-15 from 3-point range won't get it done. Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo each shot 50 FG% and poured in 14 and 16 points. Glen Davis finished with a semi-decent 12 points on 6-of-16. At least Kyle O'Quinn managed a career-high 6 points and 5 rebounds. On this evening, Orlando settled for jumpers instead of bullying their way through the paint with Tim Duncan is San Antonio's only legitimate stalwart. It's frustrating since the Magic had two full days to prepare while the aging Spurs have a game in Miami on Thursday to complete a four games in 5 nights, as well as a 6-game Eastern Conference road trip. They've won all five contests so far going into their highly anticipated 6th game against the Heat. There's a reason why Popovich has been coaching that Spurs team for 16 years as Gregg is still running a tight ship of deadly veterans.
Coach Vaughn on the Magic's problem tonight: "Just being ready from the start. Be ready. Your effort and energy and discipline and concentration has to be at a premium. Especially when you're playing premium teams."
E'Twaun Moore comes in as a substitute midway through the first period and immediately turns the ball over, then takes an ill-advised shot and bricks it. Big catapulting reason why the Spurs went on a 13-0 run. No ball movement or offensive flow. Moore's defense (or lack thereof) on Ginoboli allowed Manu to drain 4 treys and put the Spurs up 29-18 after one period. Arron Afflalo needs to go through a dribbling and passing workshop if he wants to be respected as a first option on offense. You know it's bad for E'Twaun when you begin contemplating about giving his minutes to Ish Smith.
Coach Vaughn on lack of free throw attempts: "It was a point of emphasis. That's a sign of them being more aggressive than us, and attacking the rim. Pretty simple, they were a little bit more aggressive than us tonight."
Coach Vaughn needed to recognize that Nik Vucevic was bodying up Tim Duncan quite nicely and making the future Hall of Famer's night difficult. Especially in comparison to Gustavo Ayon whose legs and feet are falling apart before our eyes. A Duncan 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer put the Spurs ahead 55-41. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili had combined for 37 points in those first twenty-four minutes. The main difference was that San Antonio shot 6-of-12 from 3-point range in comparison to the Magic's terrible 1-for-8. Oh, and Orlando didn't attempt a single free throw. That's another habit I don't want this team to acquire long-term.
Coach Vaughn on his team's mentality tonight: "There has to be an extreme focus coming into each and every game. You can't afford to simply walk into the game. You have to be prepared and run into the game. We were lucky to not be down more at halftime."
Orlando wouldn't shoot their first free throws until the 4:32 mark of the 3rd period (and DeQuan Jones missed both), but the start of the 3rd quarter yielded much more inside Magic scoring production that led to the Magic nailing their first 4 shot attempts of the quarter. Orlando went on a roller coaster ride of trailing by almost twenty, to almost getting within single digits. After all that mistaken-filled wasted energy, Orlando was down an insurmountable 81-64 deficit heading into the final period. The Amway Center atmosphere was quiet beyond belief. The Spurs still have a title worthy high-caliber roster, and it's pitiful when the casual television viewer sees an abundance of empty seats.
The only reason to have watched the fourth quarter is to keep tabs on the young guys such as O'Quinn, Andrew Nicholson, and DeQuan look decent in garbage time. Positive player development is all one can hope for in this situation. The Magic finish their longest home stand of the season by facing off against Brooklyn for already the 3rd time this year on Friday. Orlando may be 0-2 against the revamped Brooklyn franchise, but Jameer hasn't gotten his crack at Deron Williams and the Nets yet.