Preview: Magic go for season sweep of Pelicans
TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
Nearly two months ago, the Orlando Magic overcame 39 points by star forward Anthony Davis and handed the New Orleans Pelicans a 16-point loss.
It was part of a surprising 8-4 start, but since then the injuries and the losses have piled up for the Magic.
Orlando hopes to stop a six-game losing streak Friday night when it hosts the slumping Pelicans.
On Oct. 30, the Magic shot 50.6 percent, placed five players in double figures and hit 16 3-pointers in a 115-99 win over New Orleans. It was Orlando’s fifth win during a solid 12-game start, but since then the season has regressed significantly.
Since a 16-point victory at Phoenix on Nov. 10, Orlando (11-21) is 3-17 with 11 losses occurring by double digits. The Magic lost nine straight from Nov. 11 through Nov. 27, won three of their next five before starting their second-longest skid of the season.
Orlando is winless since getting a 110-106 overtime win over Atlanta on Dec. 6. That was the same night Evan Fournier sprained his right ankle.
Fournier, whose 18.3 points are tied with Aaron Gordon for the team lead, is listed as questionable for Friday. So is Gordon, who has missed the last two games with a strained right calf.
Besides their co-leading scorers, rookie Jonathan Issac is questionable with a sore right ankle after re-injuring it Wednesday. Issac missed over a month with the injury before returning in Sunday’s loss at Detroit.
Fournier and Gordon were in street clothes Wednesday night when the Magic fell behind by 30 points and never led during a 112-94 loss at Chicago.
Missing three opening-night starters in Terrence Ross, Gordon, and Fournier, the Magic fielded a starting lineup of Wes Iwundu, Mario Hezonja, Nikola Vucevic, Elfrid Payton and Jonathon Simmons.
“We didn’t guard well enough, we didn’t play defense well enough,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said.
Vogel’s comments back up the numbers.
Orlando is allowing 110.3 points per game this season and 107.8 during this skid after allowing Chicago to shoot 50 percent.
“Man, no excuses and we’ve got to play harder, play better and have more attention to detail,” Payton said. “When you are playing undermanned, you just have less room for error. You’ve got to accept that challenge.”
New Orleans is not playing undermanned just inconsistently.
The Pelicans (15-16) were a season-high three games over .500 after a 115-91 win at Phoenix on Nov. 24. Since then, they are 4-8.
While the Pelicans are averaging 113.4 points in this slide and have scored at least 100 points in 20 of their last 21 games, they are allowing 115.5 points in their last 12 games.
On Tuesday, the Pelicans allowed at least 115 for the 13th time this season and fell to 2-11 in those games with a 116-106 loss at Washington.
Davis scored 37 points and DeMarcus Cousins added 26 but the Pelicans trailed by 25 and allowed the Wizards to shoot 50 percent. New Orleans also misfired on 15 of 20 3-pointers after entering Tuesday as the league’s top 3-point shooting team this month at 46.9 percent.
New Orleans continued to be plagued by turnovers as it allowed 25 points off 16 giveaways. The Pelicans are among the league’s most careless teams at 16.5 per game and in the last four games, they have allowed 100 points off 75 turnovers.
“I thought, once again, we’re kind of singing the same song every night. We look at our turnovers and, you know we have 16 for 25 points,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “It’s hard to beat a team, especially of that caliber if you’re going to turn the ball over 16 times because, you know, some of those times you’re putting the ball in John Wall’s hand and you’re not going to be able to contain him, especially when they’re live turnovers.”
Davis injured his right wrist in the first half, but X-rays were negative, and he sported a heavy wrap on the wrist the rest of the game. Davis, who has missed five games this season and turned his ankle last Friday in Denver, is expected to play Friday and hopes not to be talking about a big deficit and turnovers again.
“We let teams come out and jump on us early and now we’re just playing uphill the whole time, so when you kind of get that lead and then try to fight back, you know you just kind of tire yourself out,” Davis said. “Then you got to try to play harder, more energy, try to take over.
“They made some open shots, some offensive rebounds. I think they had 10. But the thing that’s hurting us is turnovers at 16 but that’s not bad for how we played but we’re turning too much over collectively.”