Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
During the Pelicans game, Orlando was dictating the tempo early on and had a solid six-point advantage at halftime.
Then, they inexcusably allowed 58 points in the second half. The game was only as close as it was due to a furious 10-0 run late in the fourth fueled by a handful of impressive post moves from Nikola Vucevic.
For a team playing their first preseason game against a Pelicans team playing their third game in five days, it is inexcusable to get run out of the gym in the second half. No one would have blamed New Orleans for mailing it in without two of their key players in Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon, but they showed the type of resolve that Orlando needs to match.
Looking deeper, the plus/minus numbers were staggering, Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn had predetermined lineups heading into the contest.
"We played basically two groups and gave them six-minute stretches and we gave them a chance to feel the court a little bit. I saw some good things tonight,’’ Vaughn told John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com
Vaughn's bench significantly outperformed his starters. As a whole, the bench was average on defense and the starters were dramatically worse. Aside from Maurice Harkless and at times Vucevic, Orlando's starters looked mostly overmatched on the defensive end.
It is just one game, but Vaughn also has said that no one will be handed a starting job. His goal in the first game as well as during training camp is to see early on who plays better with which players and what combinations are more effective.
We do know that it is possible some early changes must be made to avoid complete defensive meltdowns like we saw in the first game.