Goal for road trip: Finish 2-2
PORTLAND, Ore. — The sound of sneakers squeaking on a basketball court filled Moda Center as the Orlando Magic practiced Tuesday afternoon. Then, at 1:31 p.m., a loud
rose above the squeaking.
About a half-minute later, another
Magic players did the cheering, reacting to plays their teammates made.
“We had some enthusiasm today, and that was good,” coach said after the workout ended. “Nobody’s really happy that we lost two in a row, the way we lost two in a row. We felt like we missed an opportunity last night [against Golden State] and if we did some things better, we could’ve gotten the biggest win of the year. But we’ve got to put that behind us.”
The spirit at practice was a welcome sign for the Magic, who will conclude their four-game West Coast road trip tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Difficult stretches of a schedule can reveal the colgreat lective character of an NBA team, and the Magic have reached one of those moments.
How much fight do the Magic have? How resilient are they? Do they battle through fatigue?
Answers should start coming into clearer focus soon.
The trip started with a victory over the Phoenix Suns but followed with convincing losses to the Denver Nuggets and Warriors.
The Magic opened their season with the goal of playing .500 on the road, so a victory over the Trail Blazers, and the Blazers’ standout backcourt tandem of
and and center
would provide a significant lift.
“Our only goal is to go 2-2 now,” forward
said. Orlando players entered their game against Golden State knowing they had to play nearly perfect basketball to win, and they performed well during the first half. But they unraveled when the Warriors made a run during the third quarter. Confronted by the Warriors’ switching defense and unable to push the ball upcourt following the Warriors’ made baskets, the Magic reverted to too much one-onone play and failed to move the ball.
“If we play like we played in the first half [against Golden State] offensively — we move the ball, we make the other team work — we’re going to be OK,” center said.
“But we have to pick it up defensively. I feel like we have too many breakdowns, simple things that the coaching staff puts in for us, game plans that are good. We just don’t follow them. Sometimes we try to create our own things. Sometimes we just have mental breakdowns, and we can’t have those, especially against a team like Portland, who has Lillard, McCollum and Nurkic. That’s their three guys. They play very well, so we’re going to have to be at our best against them.
“But it would be a great win for us to go home 2-2 on this West Coast trip. It’d be for us.” Point guard
who strained his left hamstring Nov. 1 and has missed Orlando’s last six games, is making progress with his recovery.
Magic officials have listed Augustin as out for tonight’s game against the Blazers, but Augustin shot baskets for about 10 minutes after his teammates concluded their practice. Swingman
grew up in Portland. Jefferson High School, which he attended, is about 2.3 miles from Moda Center.
His mom and grandmother now live in Southern California, but Ross still has close friends in Portland.
“I’ll probably go to some food spots, go check out a couple of shoe stores,” Ross said.