NBA: Well-rested Magic return home to face Pelicans


The Orlando Magic will play their first home game in more than two weeks Friday night when they host the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Magic lost to the Denver Nuggets 119-116 on Sunday, leaving them 2-3 on their recent cross-country trip. They hope to fare better in their first game back home than the Pelicans did upon returning from a recent five-game trip.

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New Orleans endured its worst defeat of the season Wednesday night, a 124-98 shellacking at the hands of the Miami Heat.

“I get it, long road trip, first game home and all that stuff, but we can’t use that as an excuse,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Give Miami a ton of credit, they played an excellent overall game. They came in and kicked our butts on our home floor.

“All that starts with me. I have to have our team prepared to play. That’s what I told our guys: We were not ready to play.”

The Pelicans have been mostly competitive in the absence of injured starters Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Herbert Jones Jr., but that wasn’t the case against the Heat, who built a 20-point lead in the first quarter and coasted to their biggest margin of victory this season.

New Orleans had no answer for Bam Adebayo, whose 26 points led seven Miami scorers in double figures.

“It’s not acceptable,” forward Naji Marshall said. “We’re better than that. Every time we step out on that floor, we should display a better effort than that. All we can do now is bounce back from that.

“We just need to lock back in. It’s simple. We have to execute and follow our game plan. It’s just small stuff and things we can do to fix ourselves. It’s real easy, and we’ll just get back to the drawing board. We’ll get in the gym to fix those mistakes and come back out against Orlando and do better.”

The Magic will be well rested after a five-day break between games. On Sunday, Denver’s Nikola Jokic made a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds remaining to edge Orlando, but the Magic saw positives in the way they fought back from a 15-point deficit.

“We fought hard to the end and those are games that hurt,” said guard Markelle Fultz, who scored 20 points. “But you know you’ve got to look at the positives and continue to build and continue to stay positive and understand that as long as we keep fighting like that, we give ourselves a chance every night.”

On the road trip, Orlando previously won at Golden State, lost in Sacramento, won in Portland and lost to the Jazz in Salt Lake City.

“We’re not going to be a team that gives up, no matter what,” Fultz said. “We’re up 20, down 20, we’ve got to play the same way throughout the whole game, and we’ve got to build that and we’re starting to understand what it takes to win and continue to play hard.”

–Field Level Media

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