It was a planned absence but still probably a bit shocking nonetheless for guard Kevin Anderson.
Maalik Wayns, who impressed Magic fans and several scouts throughout the week, left the Magic's Summer League team (on good terms) to join the Warriors' Summer League team in Las Vegas next week. This was a planned move from Wayns and one the Magic expected to happen. But after Ish Smith suddenly left the team Monday with an offer from the Rockets, it left the Magic a bit thin at point guard.
More importantly for Summer League, it gave guys like Anderson and Charlie Westbrook a chance to play for really the first time this summer league. They took their opportunity and played pretty well.
Orlando nearly squandered its opportunity to earn a win losing a seven-point lead in the last three minutes of the game. The Magic though made the plays necessary to get a win.
It started with a well-executed play at the end of regulation, that did not end up with any points. Mark Price drew up the famous alley-oop play that Dwight Howard and Courtney Lee made famous. DeAndre Liggins' pass was far too high for Andrew Nicholson to catch (maybe even for Dwight Howard to catch) and the Magic turned over the last chance to win in regulation.
In overtime, Orlando spotted Philadelphia the first five points. Justin Harper though had one of his best offensive games of the week, scoring 18 points on 6-for-18 shooting and tied the game up with a 3-pointer late and then nearly won the game with a nice drive to the elbow and pull-up jumper. He scored all five points in the first overtime and added a free throw in the second extra fram. DeAndre Liggins also turned in his best offensive performance of the week, he hit the go-ahead bucket in double overtime to give the Magic a 77-75 victory.
This game turned out to be about last year's two second round picks and Harper and Liggins took control of the team in this one.
Harper was his most aggressive, not settling for spot-up jumpers and trying to attack the rim more than he had the rest of the week. Harper did finish 6 for 18 from the floor, hardly an efficient number, but he was more aggressive than he had been all week and that was probably more of what Mark Price and the Magic were looking to see. Harper had a double double with 10 rebounds too.
Liggins was also his most aggressive offensively on the week. I know I have been waiting to see Liggins display some of his offensive skills and work to improve his jumper. It was never a doubt that he could bring it defensively.
Thursday he scored 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting, sinking several mid-range jumpers and shooting with a ton of confidence. It was exactly what you wanted to see from him in Summer League play.
The Magic know most of what they want to know about these players. There are not going to be too many surprises at this point
The same might be said about this year's draft picks, Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn.
Nicholson continued to show a great knack and comfort in the post. His footwork and post sense is outstanding and he has garnered double teams every time he catches the ball on the block. Nicholson scored six points and grabbed 10 rebounds, but more interestingly he was +12 in 31 minutes of play. Nicholson had a positive impact even though he was not scoring.
O'Quinn too continued to be active around the basket. O'Quinn also had a really nasty block early in the game as he scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
There were a few surprises.
The point guards obviously had to step up with Wayns departing the team. Anderson fit into the role nicely with 12 points and nine assists. He struggled a bit handling some full court pressure, but he showed good court sense and got the Magic into their offense. Unlike Wayns, Anderson was efficient shooting 4 for 8 for the day and 2 for 3 from beyond the arc. He made the most of his extended playing time.
The other surprise, and this has been bubbling for a while, came from Dequan Jones and Dominique Sutton. Their line scores do not impress, but both players have brought a lot of energy to the game and have really played hard. Their stat lines are unfortunately what will keep them from getting a training camp invite. Neither is particularly adept at scoring and neither has the physique to play as big as they are able to play in Summer League.
Still, these two guys have had a great effort that is worth noting.
Orlando finishes off its Summer League against Boston this morning.