Magic beat Heat in preseason tiff
ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 08, 2017 01:38 PM
Orlando Magic forward Jonathon Simmons (17) hangs onto the rim after dunking in front of Miami Heat forward James Johnson (16) and center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
By Terrance Harris, Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Orlando Magic got more than a veteran leader when they signed Marreese Speights to a one-year contract this offseason.
They are seeing that Speights still has more than a little left to give on the floor, too.
After playing well in his first two games with Orlando, the veteran was held out of the Magic’s 93-90 victory over Miami in preseason action Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). But he scored 10 points in 10 minutes during Thursday night’s (Friday, PHL time) win over Dallas and had five points, four rebounds and three blocks against Memphis during his debut with the Magic on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time).
While Speights didn’t contribute on the floor Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) he was on the bench cheering for his new team and giving pointers to the younger players.
“I’m still having a lot of fun out there,” Speights said. “If it wasn’t fun for me I wouldn’t still be out there.”
Speights gives the Magic a big man who can space the floor with his three-point shooting as a stretch 5. He went 2-of-3 from beyond the arc on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) against the Mavericks.
The 6'10" Speights converted the occasional triple during his three seasons with Golden State but it was in his lone year with the Los Angeles Clippers that Speights established himself as a real three-point threat. Last season, he shot an impressive 37 percent from long range on 277 attempts.
“He’s just a gamer and obviously he has improved his three-point range in the last season,” said Orlando coach Frank Vogel. “In a league where all bigs are experimenting with the three-point line he is a bona fide laser out there. You’ve got to guard him.”
The Magic brought in Speights, who is from nearby St. Petersburg and starred at Florida, primarily to help bring along a young core of players who have yet to make the postseason. Speights was a key bench player during the Warriors’ NBA title run in 2015 and loss to Cleveland in 2016.
He will have to fight for minutes this season in a three-big rotation that includes starter Nikola Vucevic and backup Bismack Biyombo. All three give the Magic a little something different to the table. Speights, however, may be the most versatile of the three.
“He’s a center in my mind where there are occasions where you can slide him over to the 4 but not very often in today’s era,” Vogel said. “We’re just going to have three centers that can be productive out there.”
MAGIC 93, HEAT 90
Aaron Gordon paced the Orlando Magic with 19 points.
Josh Richardson scored 19 points while Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside both added 17 for Miami.
MIAMI: Waiters and Richardson combined for 28 of Miami’s 54 first-half points. Richardson, who filled in for starter Goran Dragic, had 15 points and three assists in 15 minutes, while Waiters added 13 points. Waiters, however, did commit five turnovers during the first two quarters. The Heat shot just 26 percent from the field and 28 percent from 3-point range.
ORLANDO: Rookie Jonathan Isaac, who is still thin by NBA standards, went down hard from a slight shot by James Johnson late in the second quarter. Isaac was going up for a baseline dunk when Johnson fouled him on the block attempt. Isaac hit the floor hard but was not injured on the play. The Magic outrebounded Miami 54-41.
UP NEXT: Miami (1-2) returns home to face the Charlotte Hornets on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). Orlando (2-1) visits Dallas on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time).