Orlando Magic put the NBA on notice by crushing San Antonio

Jonathon Simmons (17) scored 17 in Orlando’s win over his former team. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

One week and a half into the season, the Orlando Magic have been phenomenal, but their 114-87 shellacking of the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night was confirmation that their hot start was no sleight of hand.

At halftime, they were torching the Spurs, 61-34 and sustained the lead over the final 24 minutes. San Antonio exacerbated the beatdown by missing 20 of their 24 treys compared to 11-of-23 shooting by Orlando. However, this Orlando squad is no fluke.

Don’t look now, but Frank Vogel’s Magic are pulling off one of the most surprising offseason reinventions in recent memory. One season ago, their offense was an anchor on their campaign, dragging them to the bottom of Eastern Conference standings. Their 29th ranked 3-point shooting percentage annihilated any semblance of floor spacing.

After ronight, they’re hovering atop the East, led by an offensive unit that’s become one of the league’s elite. On Sunday, they hustled the Cleveland Cavaliers off the court. Aaron Gordon Gordon has finally completed his transition from athletic marvel who feasted on driving to the basket into a jump shooting threat on the perimeter. Gordon and Nikola Vucevic have produced their own respective 40-point games already this season. They entered Friday’s action second in points per 100 possessions, second in assists, first in 3-point field goal percentage and second in 3-pointers made.

What makes their rise even more unique is how dramatic the shift has been despite them retaining virtually the same roster and head coach. The most high-profile non-rookie Magic addition was former Spur, Jonathan Simmons, who scored 17 of his own. Beating the Spurs into a pulp draws attention. If there was a team that should have halted this offensive surge, it would have been San Antonio. The Spurs were fourth in defensive scoring efficiency and hadn’t allowed more than 100 points this season. By no means are the Magic a juggernaut, but they’ve made the leap from peripheral team in the East to one no team should overlook.