For the first time this season, FOXSportsFlorida.com checks in with color analyst Jeff Turner to get the latest on the Magic. You can follow Turner on Twitter at @JTurnerMagic.
FOX SPORTS FLORIDA: Considering how few and far between road victories have been in 2014, how enjoyable was the flight home Wednesday night from Philadelphia?
JEFF TURNER: I think everybody was kind of tired. You had a lot of guys playing a lot of minutes. But there was more of a positive vibe. These guys have been working really hard. And you look at those first four games — those are playoff teams with a lot of guys coming back. So it was nice to get a W.
FSF: Is the confidence that Tobias Harris showed in taking and making the game-winning shot a sign of his growth and maturity at age 22?
JT: That trip was really good for Tobias. That last home game before we left against Toronto, I thought he struggled a little bit. I thought he was aiming the ball a little bit. In the Chicago game, especially the third quarter, he was really assertive when the team needed him. And that kind of builds on itself, and you saw the result of that confidence. Seeing the ball going in really helps Tobias.
That whole fourth quarter, there were a lot of guys who stepped up and made big plays. There were a couple of tough floaters that Ben Gordon made. We probably overlooked it, but right before he went out and Elfrid (Payton) came back in, Luke Ridnour hit a huge pullup jumper. And obviously Elfrid did some unbelievable things at the end of the game.
FSF: You mention Ben and Luke. While the emphasis of this team tends to be on younger players such as Harris and Payton, how much has the signing of four over-30 veterans been a positive influence?
JT: Let’s not forget Channing (Frye). Those guys made plays — just veteran, smart plays. As you’ve got young guys who are learning how to win and how to play in this league, to have those guys step up and do those things (is huge).
It was interesting. During the game (at Philadelphia), Dante (Marchitelli) was doing the sideline and talked about Willie (Green) speaking up in the huddle and talking to the guys about some things that he saw. So Willie’s contributing whether he gets on the floor or not. I think Rob Hennigan and his staff (made) great, great free-agent signings with those guys so far from what we’ve seen.
FSF: Going into Friday night, the Magic were only 29th out of 30 teams in the NBA in points scored per 100 possessions with 94.3. How do they go about raising that figure?
JT: There are two things right now that seem to be issues for them. The turnovers are still too high at times. I think Jacque (Vaughn) used the term not careless, but a little casual maybe on some of them as opposed to turnovers of aggression. Once you get possessions and you get shots, that helps you. And the second thing is rebounding, keeping people off the glass. That does two things. That allows them to really get the pace up if they can defensive rebound and get out and run a little better, which will get more easy ways to score.
FSF: What about them averaging only 19 free throws a game compared to 31 for their opponents?
JT: That’s huge. That’s another part of it. Brian Hill used to always say that you’ve got to win the games within the game. You’ve got to win the rebound game, and you’ve got to win the free-throw game. You’ve got to get there more than your opponent, and you’ve got to make them. That’s a huge part of it, and that’s an area that’s got to improve.
It’s interesting. You look at what the team lost as far as guys who were able to get to the line last year — Jameer (Nelson), Arron (Afflalo) did a great job of that. And then you have to add Victor (Oladipo). The guys we’ve added have the ability to get to the free-throw line, and when Victor comes back, that number will definitely go up.
FSF: Finally, have you ever seen an early-season Magic schedule so top-heavy with road games?
JT: (Laughs) No. I’m just hoping I can survive. I’m not worried about the players. Just the back-to-back from Chicago to Philly — I think we got in at almost 3 a.m., and you lose the hour going from Central to Eastern (time), and then coming back to Orlando. So, yeah, it’s going to be interesting. We’ll know a lot about this team after this road trip and how they handle it.