Orlando Kids Fall Apart, Lose In OT (Again)

Rockets 119, Magic 114 OT

The NBA is a league that inflicts cruelty on the young. Vignettes of heartbreak that young players grow from play a crucial part in player development. Veteran players with all their war wounds and scars that come with having earned their rightful place in the league take advantage of the young innocents who are just getting their feet wet.

The Orlando Magic know how it feels to be on the receiving end of a team that is poised, patient and experienced. The Magic as a team are a bunch of neophytes, first and second and third and fourth year players. C.J. Watson has been in the league 8 years and Channing Frye has been in the league 9 years. They are the two veteran players on the Magic. Otherwise, it’s just the kids that new Magic coach Scott Skiles is working with.

What has been a bright spot for Skiles early in this season is Evan Fournier. The former Denver Nugget has finally blossomed as the knock down scorer most thought he would be. Fournier, who is from France, played in Europe as a professional when he was 17. When the Nuggets drafted him in the first round, he had already played three years.

Fournier is the Magic’s leading scorer, 18.5 points a game. His last two games, the Pelicans on Tuesday and the Rockets tonight, he scored 29 points and 30 points respectively. On Tuesday, the Magic won their first game of the year. Tonight, they lost in overtime. It was their second overtime game in four days, both with similar results.

On October 30th the Magic hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder and had a lead in the last minute but Kevin Durant hit an uncontested three to tie it up. Victor Oladipo put the Magic within a whisper of their first win with a three of his own with four seconds left. Russell Westbrook was having none of it. He drilled a typical Westbrook gutsy shot/prayer/30-footer to send the game into overtime.

As the first overtime was ending, the Thunder had the lead when Oladipo drilled another three to send the game to a second overtime. In the second overtime, the Thunder took control, sending the Magic to an 0-3 record. So close, so faraway.

Tonight, the Magic were back in familiar territory, in a close game. The Rockets had a two point lead when James Harden fouled Evan Fournier on the baseline. Fournier made both shots to send the game into OT. But this is where the Magic kids always fall apart.

Oladipo missed a three. Elfrid Payton, a notoriously horrible shooter, launched a jumper that missed. Tobias Harris missed a layup. And so it went. They kids scored 4 points in overtime. They lost their fourth game of the year.

The kids still have more growing up to do.

photo via llananba