The Orlando Magic failed to pass the century mark in scoring for the first time this season. Orlando was outplayed from start to finish and ended up with a blowout loss to the Chicago Bulls 105 – 83.
Going into the game Orlando would have the challenge of replacing the production of their first and second string point guards. With DJ Augustin being injured in the Magic last game in Memphis and Elfrid Payton not quite ready for action Orlando leaned on Shelvin Mack at point guard. The absence of Payton and Augustin were felt throughout this game as Orlando failed to ever get into the flow of their offense. The defense end of the floor was no better as Chicago had little resistance scoring. While Orlando did manage to take the lead for a short time the effort used to get the lead drained them. The Magic seemed out of sorts the entire game and never looked to be a cohesive unit.
What looked to be the Orlando Magic of the past 4 seasons returned to the Amway Center against the Bulls. While many will downplay the importance of chemistry, there is no denying that it was missing for Orlando tonight. After Elfrid Payton suffered his injury it was assumed that Orlando would regress slightly was DJ Augustin is not the creator that Payton is. However, when the Magic kept winning the narrative turned to Augustin being a better shooter than Payton, which opens up the floor. None of these observations are necessarily wrong. The main factor in the early success of this
The main factor in the early success of this team, however, was their chemistry. Payton has played with Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon since he was a rookie. DJ Augustin came aboard last season and even started over Payton for stretches of the year. Having that familiarity with your teammates and knowing their tendencies is a big part of long-term success. After seeing how the offense flowed with Shelvin Mack at the point shows how much chemistry is needed on this team. Mack is good in small spurts and even great when paired with the rest of the newcomers on the team. Placing him in the starting role just threw Orlando’s rotation off. Not only was the starting lineup affected, the bench was effected as well.
Aside from the offense never getting it going, the Magic were constantly late on rotations. They exerted so much effort trying to muster up some offense that they were gassed on the defensive end. While trying to make a comeback in the third and fourth quarters Chicago came up with wide open three-point shots. Many of the open looks came on second efforts. Orlando would play great initial defense and then 4 passes later someone is left open with no one within 10 feet of them.
The Orlando Magic next game is Sunday versus the Boston Celtics.