Victor Oladipo learns that struggling is part of NBA

ORLANDO, Fla. — As a freshman at Indiana, Victor Oladipo was part of a team which finished dead last in the Big Ten. So he knows what rough nights are like.

But never did he have less than 24 hours to bounce back from a lamentable performance and get on the court again.

He’s about to find out what that’s like.

Oladipo was far from the only member of the Orlando Magic to struggle Friday night as their three-game winning streak was halted by the Boston Celtics, who are starting almost totally from scratch this season under former Butler coach Brad Stevens. Aside from Arron Afflalo, who accounted for all nine of their points over the final 1:38, everyone had a subpar outing to varying degrees.

But when coach Jacque Vaughn had to pull Afflalo after the veteran guard picked up his fifth foul with 7:13 remaining, it was up to the rookie to hold the fort. Instead, Oladipo had his pocket picked by Avery Bradley coming out of a timeout, and neither he nor the Magic fully recovered from the resulting three-point play.

“As bad as you want to be perfect every day, it’s not a game of perfection,” Oladipo said as the Magic prepared to fly to Atlanta following their 91-89 loss to the Celtics. “It’s basketball. There’s going to be a lot of mistakes, and there’s going to be wins and losses. You’re just measured by how you bounce back. We’re going to see how really good this team is.”

The Magic showed their fans how good they could be earlier this week with convincing victories over the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers. Oladipo was anything but a bit player in both of those games, particularly when he stole the ball from Deron Williams and delivered a 360-degree spin and dunk.

His line against the Celtics was nearly 180 degrees opposite of that: getting three shots blocked in a 3-of-12 shooting performance, three turnovers, four fouls, and a seat on the bench for most of the final 4:09. Vaughn brought him back in for defensive purposes with less than 30 seconds to go, and it was Oladipo who had no choice but to fling a desperation 3-pointer from just past the midcourt line after Bradley split two free throws.

Bradley had almost as many steals by himself (3) as the Magic did overall (4).

“He just stole it,” Oladipo said of the play which put the Celtics up 81-77. “He’s an aggressive defender. It’s not the first time he’s done that. I’ve seen his track record from back home. He got me that one time. Kudos to him. I’m just going to go right back at him. That’s pretty much what I do — take it one game at a time and keep learning.”

The Magic learned a lesson about not taking anybody lightly. This was a classic trap game. And while the Celtics shot only 35.8 percent from the floor, they forced 20 turnovers and finished with 48 points in the paint by scoring on a number of dunks and uncontested lay-ins.

“I do think we came to play tonight,” Afflalo said. “I just think the focus has to be a little bit sharper for a team that’s trying to be a team that just won three in a row.”

While the Magic are in no danger of looking past the Hawks, the fact that they will then go to Boston for a rematch Monday night might be even more of a source of motivation to Oladipo.

“Victor’s very competitive, and I’m sure he’s thinking about Monday’s game already,” Afflalo said. “We play tomorrow, but I’m sure he’s thinking about it.”

“That’s just the beauty of the NBA,” Oladipo said after experiencing a bit of its ugly side.

 You can follow Ken Hornack on Twitter @HornackFSFla
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