When the Orlando Magic left the floor after their one and only home game last week, they were a shocked and stunned team. Things turned out much differently on Thursday after their 102-94 win over the Sacramento Kings at the Amway Center.
Last week the new additions were playing together in a game that counts for the first time. It most certainly looked like it. Chemistry was seemingly non-existent.
After two more losses and Monday’s victory in Philadelphia, the team’s first, the pieces are closer to fitting together. While 78 games still remain in the regular season, it is OK to look ahead to what this team can become.
Serge Ibaka is scoring and providing the defensive presence the Magic had hoped. On Tuesday, he scored 17 points and blocked only one shot, but clearly altered others from opponents who got into the paint.
Evan Fournier and Elfrid Payton continued their stellar play at the guard position. Fournier scored 29 points on 10 of 15 shooting while Payton had 11 assists and only one turnover.
“It was pretty good tonight, defensively,” said Fournier. “I thought the key to the game was that we started very well. The last (three) games we started flat. That was the key, in my opinion.”
Aaron Gordon had his best game of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Jeff Green, D.J. Augustin, and Bismack Biyombo provided solid minutes off the bench.
The Kings are not among the NBA’s elite teams, but they are a good test for a team still coming together. The Magic never got out to a big lead and had a difficult time dealing with All-Star DeMarcus Cousins (so does every team). Despite his 33 points, the Magic kept the Kings at arm’s length in the second half to earn the victory.
Orlando (2-3) will go for their third straight victory on Saturday when the Washington Wizards come to town.