ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Orlando entered Friday night’s game with the New Orleans Pelicans trying to find answers to a slide that has moved them 10 games below .500. But without leading scorers Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier again due to injuries, a shorthanded Orlando Magic team fell short against New Orleans by the score of 111-97.
DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points and 11 rebounds as the Pelicans took advantage of the Magic’s lack of depth in the front court (injuries to Gordon and rookie Jonathan Issac). Cousins was able to use his strength to not only score in the paint, but get to the line to attempt 11 free throws.
When Cousins wasn’t scoring in the post, Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday was scoring from the perimeter. Holiday had 24 points, but he had three of the Pelicans’ 10 made three-point baskets in the contest. He also contributed on the defensive end with three steals as well.
The Pelicans took advantage of the Magic using their 13 different starting up this season (They have played 33 games so far), to get off to a quick start that the Magic could not recover from. Anthony Davis scored 10 of his 20 points in the opening quarter as the Magic had no answers on stopping the former Kentucky star. The Magic’s inability to stop the pick and roll allowed Davis to receive multiple alley-oop dunks throughout the game.
“Just reading the defense. They were trying to play top side. Me and Rondo just kind of a chemistry where we know when to do it and it was there a lot tonight.” – Pelicans forward Anthony Davis on his alley-oop finishes tonight
Orlando couldn’t find an offensive rhythm most of the night. The team struggled all night to hit a constant number of shots. Orlando shot 42% from the floor and missed 16 of their 20 three-point attempts in the game. Nikola Vucevic missed 13 of his 20 shots, even though he scored 21 points in the game. Because of the struggles on both sides of the ball, it allowed the Pelicans to be up as many as 27 point in the game.
“We had some breakdowns, they just out-played us. Holiday got going, you spend so much time focusing on Cousins and Davis and you realize they’ve got an All-Star level point guard, really two All-Star level point guards, in the starting lineup and Rondo really hurt us with his assists and Holiday hurt us with his scoring. It just wasn’t good enough.” – Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel on the team’s defensive performance against New Orleans
Jonathon Simmons led the Magic with 22 points as he shot 10 for 15 from the floor. He also had eight rebounds in the 30 minutes he played. Elfrid Payton filled the stat sheet with 18 points, five rebounds and six assists as he shot eight for 13 from the floor.
Orlando will travel to the nation’s capital for a game against John Wall and the Washington Wizards before the Christmas holiday. Their next home game is against the Detroit Pistons on December 28th at 7pm.
Points of Interest:
- Rajon Rondo had eight assists in his 23 minutes played and was able to create so many open looks for the Pelicans
- Marresse Speights started in place of Mario Hezonja and scored seven points in 17 minutes played.
- Orlando never led in the game
- Orlando had four technical fouls in the game, including three of them in the second quarter. (Payton, Speights and Bismack Biyombo), Vogel had one in the opening quarter
Danny Thompson is a sports contributor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org