Frank Vogel deserves some sympathy. That should not be confused with pity.
Vogel is a well-paid professional basketball coach. Pity is reserved for those with terminal illness or catastrophic injuries.
Still, the Magic’s head coach is trying everything he knows how to do in order to bring Orlando out of what is now a 9-game losing streak. The latest setback was a 121-109 loss to the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.
When you have not won a game since November 10, you’ll try anything.
During the last three weeks, they have shot poorly at times, committed too many turnovers, lost focus, or played poor defense. They have also played well in spurts during this time, but not in sufficient quantities or at the right time.
Monday’s game is one where even frustrated fans should feel for Vogel. Following Saturday’s 130-111 drubbing in Philadelphia (where former Magic player J.J. Redick drilled 8 three-pointers), Vogel tinkered with his starting lineup on Monday to try and get the right combination.
He inserted Jonathan Simmons into the lineup while now bringing former starter Terrance Ross off the bench. Simmons led the team in scoring with 21 points, while Ross had an off-night shooting.
The Magic played hard, made 16 three-pointers and had spurts of aggressive defense. It took a hot shooting team and a “career game” from former Magic star Victor Oladipo for the Pacers to win.
“We try to play the right way and we got a lot of good looks,” Vogel said. “Sometimes you hit a team or a player that is just playing out of his mind. And we’ve hit a string of those.”
Oladipo, the former standout at nearby Indiana University, made his first 11 shots on a 26-point night. It had to be doubly hard for Vogel to witness the show Oladipo put on.
When he first took the Magic job in May of 2016, Vogel mentioned that he was excited about having the opportunity to coach Oladipo. Just a month later, that chance was gone when the Magic made the disastrous trade with Oklahoma City for Serge Ibaka.
Vogel also had to watch another player involved in that trade, Damontas Sabonis, pour in 19 points and grab 8 rebounds for the Pacers. Sabonis and Oladipo came to Indiana from Oklahoma City in exchange for Paul George.
It must also be difficult for Vogel to take yet another loss at the hands of the team that fired him less than two years ago. He is now 0-6 against the Pacers.
While not liking the result, he was not disappointed with his team’s effort on Monday and continues to focus on “playing the right way.” The Magic just need to remove the albatross of the losing streak that is hanging around their collective necks.
“We’ve gotta get a win, but it’s a long season,” he said.
Vogel and the Magic try to break the losing streak at home on Wednesday against George, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Amway Center. Despite the three superstars, the Thunder are only 8-11 and 2-8 on the road.