The Orlando Magic are expected to have their top scorer
They certainly could have used him their last time out.
With Arron Afflalo likely back, the Magic will try to bounce
back from their worst shooting performance of the season and send
the Sacramento Kings to a fifth straight road loss Saturday
Afflalo leads Orlando (8-18) with 21.6 points per game, and that
production was sorely missed in Wednesday’s 86-82 loss to Western
Conference-worst Utah. With the guard out due to an illness, the
Magic shot a season-low 32.6 percent from the floor in their third
straight home loss and sixth in seven games.
Afflalo feels he should be healthy enough to return.
“There was a little something going on with my throat or
something. I’m fine,” he said. “I’ll be OK.”
Orlando surely hopes so, as it could use some offensive help
since it’s averaging 91.5 points while dropping nine of 11 games,
after scoring 100.0 in the first 15.
“We gotta get those stops in play with a little more pace,”
Afflalo said of solving the recent scoring slump. “We can’t count
on half-court execution for a full 48 minutes, so the more we can
get the proper stops and get out there and get some transition 3s
and some fast-break layups. Hopefully, generate some fouls.
Whatever it takes to get us back up in the hundreds.”
Improvement from Victor Oladipo would also help. The rookie
guard went 1 for 12 with a season-low three points Wednesday, two
days after going 3 for 12 to finish with eight points in an 83-82
win at Chicago.
Oladipo, the second overall pick in the June draft, isn’t
dwelling on his recent performances.
“You gotta let it go, especially in this league,” he said. “If
you let it build up and let it stay with you, you still not going
to play well the next game. That game has come and gone, so I’m not
really worried about it.”
The Magic lost both meetings with Sacramento (7-18) last season,
including a 125-101 defeat at home Feb. 27.
The Kings, though, are 2-8 on the road, losing four straight
while surrendering 114.3 points per game and 53.5 percent shooting
– 50.6 from beyond the arc.
Those struggles continued Friday with a 122-103 loss at Miami,
which connected on 61.4 percent of its field goals.
The Kings shot 58.1 percent – and still lost by 19 points.
Shooting that well and losing by that much simply doesn’t happen in
the NBA, or at least, hadn’t happened since April 5, 1986, when
Phoenix shot 61.1 percent and lost to Sacramento 119-100.
“Every day in practice, every shootaround, every team meeting,
every film session, all we talk about is our defense and obviously
the message isn’t getting through,” coach Michael Malone said.
“They’re not accepting it. They’re not willing to accept it. I’m
not sure what the problem is, but I have to find five guys
(Saturday) night starting in Orlando who are willing to compete on
the defensive end of the floor.”
DeMarcus Cousins is doing his part offensively, averaging 28.3
points, 10.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists while hitting 62.5 percent
from the floor during this four-game road trip. The center scored
27 points on 11-of-15 shooting against the Heat.
He’s totaled 22 points in two visits to Orlando.