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After a return to form during the 2016 season, Andrew Nicholson proved he belongs in the NBA. The only question now is, will the Magic bring him back?
Andrew Nicholson played well for the Orlando Magic last season. The big man from St. Bonaventure returned to the level of play he displayed his rookie season in 2012, in averaging 16.8 points per 36 minutes and shooting a career-best 53.7 percent effective field goal percentage.

He clearly is a good piece for any NBA team. But with the Magic’s offseason plan focusing on recruiting major stars, Nicholson’s future is in doubt.

Nicholson knew that coming into this season he had to prove he belonged on a NBA roster. He was impressive early in his career and looked like a player who would produce down the line.

The two years following his rookie campaign, he shied away from the low post and worked on his outside game. This may not have been on him however, Jacque Vaughn seemed to value Nicholson’s shooting over his inside game.

Nicholson was yet again the odd man out in 2016. He did not have a solidified role and he was used to that. The years prior, Nicholson would have long lapses where he barely saw the floor. He played a measly seven minutes in the first 11 games of the season.

When the opportunity arose, Nicholson took full advantage and played solid minutes until early January where he saw a major dip in playing time again.

Following a long two-month stint on the pine, Nicholson returned with something to prove. Displaying his range and craftiness down low, Nicholson averaged just less than 10 points per game the last 16 games of the year.

The first Christmas Day game ever played in Orlando came on this day 25 years ago and it certainly did not disappoint.

In a rematch of the 1995 NBA Finals, the Orlando Magic got a modicum of revenge. Cheap Anfernee Hardaway Jersey again played the role of hero with a last-second shot to sink the Houston Rockets, 92-90.

After sweeping the Magic in the Finals, Houston returned to Orlando Arena for the first time on Dec. 25, 1995. The Rockets used a big third quarter to take the lead, but in the end, Hardaway sent Orlando fans hope happy on Christmas.

The Magic were 21-6 and for a while, it looked like they might cruise. Orlando outscored the Rockets 22-10 in the second quarter to take a 51-38 lead into the locker room. A monster third quarter by Houston temporarily changed the contest’s outlook.

After winning Finals MVP against Orlando, Houston center Hakeem Olajuwon scored 16 of his game-high 30 points in the third quarter. Back-to-back three-pointers by Mario Elie and Robert Horry gave the Rockets a 74-70 lead at the end of three.

That advantage would balloon to as many as eight in the final period, but losing at home was just something the Magic just didn’t do. In just his fifth game back from injury, center Shaquille O’Neal spurred the Magic comeback while playing with five fouls.

O’Neal paced Orlando with a team-high tying 22 points and a game-high 18 rebounds, but it was the supporting cast that delivered the Magic late. With less than 90 seconds to play, Cheap Dennis Scott Jersey three-pointer drew the Magic even at 90 apiece.

Olajuwon’s final shot of the night was an air ball that gave the Magic the final shot with just 24 seconds left. After hitting two buzzer beaters earlier in the year, Hardaway was forced to his right by Elie before pulling up from 12 feet. The ball rimmed out, hit glass and fell back through to give the Magic a 92-90 lead with 3.1 seconds to play.

Horry missed the winning three-point attempt as time expired. Horry and Elie complimented Olajuwon with 15 points apiece. Olajuwon grabbed 12 boards in the loss. Mark Bryant added 10 points, including the final eight for Houston, off the bench.

Like O’Neal, Hardaway scored 22 points in the win as the Magic improved to 22-6 and extended their home winning streak to 22 games. Scott added 19 points in the victory. Cheap Horace Grant Jersey and Cheap Nick Anderson Jersey each finished with 11 points.

After getting swept in the NBA Finals by Houston, Hardaway’s heroics would begin a string of 10 straight wins for Orlando over the Rockets. They came on this day a quarter-century ago.

It showed just how much he had improved on both sides of the ball, extending his range behind the 3-point line and improving his awareness and rebounding on defense. All the while maintaining his strong post game when given that opportunity.

Nicholson exceeded all expectations last season and has forced the Magic to make an extremely tough decision this offseason.

Cheap Aaron Gordon Jersey has secured his role as starting power forward for the Magic and thus Nicholson’s role would be his backup. That role is currently unresolved.

Ersan Ilyasova is due to make $8.4 million, but if the Magic cut him before July 1, they will save $8 million. He plays the same position as Nicholson and had similar numbers, playing in front of Nicholson after the Magic acquired him. Like Nicholson, his status is still very questionable.

As a restricted free agent, Nicholson may look for a lengthier contract and the Magic may have to pay a heftier price tag to retain him. Especially considering their usage of him the last two years.

Other teams with cap room could look at Nicholson as a key piece on their rotation and bump his price tag higher than the Magic are willing to pay.

Even with his stock rising, Nicholson is part of the old regime, he has been on the Magic roster longer than every other player and that could play a part in general manager Rob Hennigan’s decision as well.

One thing to keep in mind is Cheap Andrew Nicholson Jersey is a restricted free agent this off season which gives the Magic the ability to match any offer Nicholson receives.

The Magic could face a big problem this summer. If they cannot land a max-contract player, Nicholson could become more of a necessity. Especially if they cut Ilyasova leaving Aaron Gordon with no backup.

If that is the case, Nicholson would be a “no-brainer” to bring back due to his ability to provide scoring off the bench and lack of depth behind Aaron Gordon. Ilyasova is also no lock to come back, so the Magic could be shuffling for a forward.

Rob Hennigan has talked about how the Magic need to add veteran players to a very young core. At 26, Nicholson is heading into his prime and could be a nice rotational piece for the Magic for five-plus years. He fits into the current makeup of the team well too. He can spread the floor, which the Magic desperately need, and he is not a liability on defense, especially with a rim protector on the floor with him.

Whether Nicholson stays in pinstripes, or heads to a new home, one team will be getting a productive player that brings a lot to the table.

The Orlando Magic will try to bring in a top-notch player who demands a big price tag, but filling out the rest of the roster and creating depth will be important too. Andrew Nicholson is a great option to bring off the bench and produces when given the playing time.

NEXT: Channing Frye finds his fit with the Cleveland Cavaliers
Nicholson is used to waiting for his opportunity to contribute and that will be no different this summer. What price and for how much Nicholson will go for though remains a mystery.

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Despite the young nature of the season so far, tonight’s match up against the Thunder represented a chance for the Magic to make history. Orlando entered the tilt against their Western Conference foe seeking the first 4-0 start since the team sprung into existence, while big man Cheap Nikola Vucevic Jersey needed only a handful of baskets to move into first place on the franchise’s list of all-time made field goals. While the latter of those moments was assured before the first quarter ended, the latter took considerably more time to come to fruition. Still, the Magic did enough late to secure the slice of franchise history, overcoming a plucky Thunder squad and retaining their status as one of only two currently undefeated teams.

The opening minutes revealed much about how the Magic would approach the contest. With Oklahoma both undermanned and undersized Orlando demonstrated their intent to attack the hoop, with each possession predicated on players taking advantage of the lack of resistance offered in the paint. Cheap Aaron Gordon Jersey got that ball rolling with three successive coast-to-coast forays after cleaning the defensive glass, with Cheap Markelle Fultz Jersey and Cheap Dwayne Bacon Jersey following in kind when the opportunity presented itself. 8 of the Magic’s first 10 made baskets came within three feet of the rim, indicating just how fruitful this early penetration was proving to be.

Aaron Gordon breaks down the defense with a euro but a terrific no-look find from Markelle Fultz gets Vucevic the three.

— DoYouBelieveinMagic (@DYBinMagic) December 30, 2020
Unfortunately for Orlando, their own interior defense was just as putrid as their opponent’s. Time and time again the team failed to corral the pick and roll against a stretched out Thunder, leading to a number of minimally contested finishes at the hoop. Things began to settle down in this regard when the second unit checked in, courtesy of some great defensive energy from Cheap Chuma Okeke Jersey and Cheap Michael Carter-Williams Jersey and a general rise in the team’s intensity at this end of the floor. A few timely buckets allowed the Magic to create a small cushion as the quarter came to an end, up 34-27 on the back of a 62.5% conversion rate from the floor.

Terrific bounce pass from MCW to Cheap Khem Birch Jersey who finishes with the slam.

— DoYouBelieveinMagic (@DYBinMagic) December 30, 2020
Points were difficult to come by for Orlando in the opening minutes of the second quarter, with jump shots refusing to go down and the more perimeter-focused offense failing to produce a high level of results. The Thunder were able to capitalize on this sluggishness, reclaiming the lead on a Hamadou Diallo jumper before Gordon nudged the Magic back ahead, 40-39, by converting a difficult lob pass from Cheap Cole Anthony Jersey.

Fingertip finish from Aaron Gordon off of Cole Anthony’s lob in the PnR.
Thus far this season, the Magic have been 24 points better than their opponents per 100 possessions with Anthony on the floor according to @cleantheglass.

— DoYouBelieveinMagic (@DYBinMagic) December 30, 2020
Coming out of a time out the Magic were able to relocate their scoring touch, primarily by again prioritizing playing from the inside. It started with Gordon finding Cheap Terrence Ross Jersey for a sweet finish off a back-door cut, and was supplemented in short order by each of Anthony, Bacon and Vucevic. This helped to swell the lead back to 8 points, 51-43, before the starters — with Okeke in Gordon’s place, checking back in with just over 4 minutes remaining. The two teams largely traded chances over the final stretch of the first half, before a pair of strong drives for the Thunder gave them the final two baskets of the quarter and shrunk Orlando’s lead to just 60-56 at the main break.

– . . . [email protected] ↗️ @TerrenceRoss

— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) December 30, 2020
Based on the boxscore numbers, Orlando’s advantage at the break probably should have been greater. As a team they shot more accurately from the field (52.2% to 48.9%), had almost twice as many free throw attempts (9 to 5), and were winning the turnover battle (5 to 8). The Magic had generated more assists, more steals, more fastbreak points, and more buckets in the paint, and it was still painfully obvious that the Thunder had no one who could handle Vucevic inside or out. However, there were too many stretches where both the energy and the execution seemed to be lacking, a factor which would have to swing in the second half if they were to commandingly put this one away.

The scrappy nature of the affair continued through the third quarter, with the Magic again failing to seize the ascendancy. Although the defensive effort was better the team was still making mistakes at that end, either over-rotating or failing to close out with impact. This meant that the Thunder were able to keep the scoreboard ticking over, an outcome that was almost single-handedly being matched by Vucevic. He was basically unstoppable on offense, establishing deep position in the paint, making clean finishes at the rim, and whipping the ball with precision to open shooters when the opportunity presented itself. He had 9 points and 2 assists in the quarter, and could have had more of each if teammates had done a more effective job of finishing.

He’s having himself a [email protected] | #MagicTogether

— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) December 30, 2020
Despite this dominance at the center position, Orlando just couldn’t seem to pull away from the plucky Thunder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a number of big shots during the quarter, giving him 17 points on just 8 shots at this stage, and every time the Magic got one of their own to go Oklahoma City were seemingly able to get a contribution from someone else. When the siren sounded Orlando were only a missed Lu Dort triple away from going into the final period trailing, clinging to an 87-85 lead as the game entered the final twelve minutes.

From the outset it was clear that the fourth quarter would be a more physical affair, with both teams doing more to pack the painted area and the defensive intensity being dialed up a notch. Both teams were able to generate free throw chances on the back of incisive drives, but it was ultimately the Magic’s strong finishing inside that allowed them to steady. Bacon was aggressive in driving to the hoop, dropping in a series of sweet finishes in the quarter’s opening minutes and buoying the offense while Vucevic got a breather and Terrence Ross rested a tweaked hamstring. When Carter-Williams put back Bacon’s first miss of the game — a corner three — it was 99-91 Orlando.

8-for-8 tonight

— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) December 30, 2020
SGA continued to pile up buckets for the Thunder, and in turn the Magic went consistently to the man in the middle. The team ran basically every possession through the big guy in the game’s final seven minutes, and he responded as required. He followed a short hook with a smooth baseline jumper, before titling the floor with a cross court pass that allowed MCW to take advantage of space. His gravity on a pick and subsequent roll again opened up space, this time for Cheap Evan Fournier Jersey to find Fultz for a wide open triple. Moments later Vooch again showed off his passing vision, whipping a pass to a spotting-up Ross who shook the closing defender on his way to a mid-range pull up. When the Human Torch got an elbow jumper to go on Orlando’s next possession the lead had swelled to 10 and the game was, for all intents and purposes, sealed.

@MarkelleF | #MagicTogether

— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) December 30, 2020
The final few minutes played out without too much intrigue, with a limping Ross perhaps the biggest question mark moving forward. For now, the Magic will celebrate the best regular season start in franchise history, advancing to 4-0 courtesy of a 118-107 win.

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The Magic hoped to treat their preseason finale as if it were their regular season opener.

And they did…for three quarters.

Things initially fell apart in the fourth quarter as the Magic turned a 16-point lead into a seven-point deficit and then turned that into a last-second victory, rendering all team stats from the game essentially meaningless. But prior to all of that, the Magic showed encouraging signs in what was a 120-117 victory over the Hornets.

It began with Cheap Nikola Vucevic Jersey starting the game like a Splash Brother, hitting three three-pointers in the games opening minutes as the Magic established an early lead. Steve Clifford said he wants Vucevic shooting more threes this season, and Vooch quickly and effectively took full advantage of that green light on Saturday, hitting 4 of 6 attempts (7-for-11 FG) over 26 minutes to finish with 18 points.

The Magic overall in the first connected on 6 of 11 attempts from deep and shot 52 percent overall in the quarter. Defensively, the Magic denied the Hornets the spacing they received on Thursday night, and forced Charlotte into six turnovers in the opening quarter.

Cheap Aaron Gordon Jersey had his best game of the preseason, though he did show a mix of his ability to be a playmaker while working out of the paint or on drive-and-kicks with a tendency to dribble the Magic right out of an offensive possession. Gordon finished a very active first quarter with seven points, five rebounds and two assists as the Magic built a 17-point lead and closed the quarter up 38-27.

Cole Anthony admittedly described his first preseason performance with the Orlando Magic as terrible, but it didn’t take long for the 20-year-old to bounce back and turn things around.

Anthony closed out the preseason on Saturday by scoring 19 points to help the Magic to a 120-117 win over the Charlotte Hornets. He shot 7-of-15 from the field and had the go-ahead basket, a running floater, with 14.1 seconds left to seal the win.

Over his four preseason games, Anthony led all rookies in scoring (55 points) and made 3-pointers (8) while he was also tied with LaMelo Ball for the most assists (15) among first-year players. His 55 total points ranked 27th among all players.

The top five rookie scorers of the 2020-21 preseason:

Cole Anthony (55 points)
Isaac Okoro (45 points)
Patrick Williams (45 points)
Devin Vassell (41 points)
Desmond Bane (37 points)
Of course, leading the rookie class in scoring won’t earn Anthony any trophies but the strong start shows how much he has improved each game. Anthony knew it would take some time to adjust to the speed of the NBA and he looks much more comfortable than he did in his first game.

The Magic certainly have high expectations this season for Anthony. He projects to play a major role with the team and the confidence he has played with will go a long way as Orlando prepares to tip-off the regular season on Wednesday versus the Miami Heat.

The Magic continued hitting from the perimeter in the second quarter – with three makes coming from Cheap Terrence Ross Jersey – and in the first half combined made 10 of 20 attempts. The defense continued pressuring the Hornets, forcing them into 12 first-half turnovers. All combined it helped the Magic carry a 63-49 lead into the break.

That lead reached as many as 23 in the third after Vooch hit his fourth three of the game and Cheap Evan Fournier Jersey followed with another to make it 89-66 with 3:23 remaining.

That was when the second unit checked in….and never checked out.

Up to that point, the second unit had been perhaps the most positive takeaway in the preseason for the Magic. But this would be a stretch to forget, and Clifford was not about to put his starters back in to clean the mess his reserves had made.

With Cheap Cole Anthony Jersey, Terrence Ross, Michael-Carter Williams, Cheap Chuma Okeke Jersey, and Cheap Khem Birch Jersey on the floor, the Hornets closed the third on a 9-2 run, trimming the Magic lead to 94-78.

That same unit for the Magic was unable to score a point over the first 4:34 of the fourth, during which time the Hornets had opened the quarter on a 23-0 run to take a 101-94 lead with 8:02 left.

A dunk by Okeke ended the drought and sparked a 9-0 Magic run that put them back on top at 103-101 with 5:27 left.

Anthony, who to that point had struggled in the fourth with some untimely turnovers, then went into closer mode, scoring 10 points over the game’s final five minutes. That began with a three off a feed from Okeke to put the Magic ahead 106-102. After an 8-0 Hornets run put them up 115-111, Anthony responded with a drive to cut the Magic deficit to two. Trailing by four with under a minute left, Anthony found Cheap Devin Cannady Jersey, who hit a huge three to pull the Magic within 117-116. On the ensuing Magic possession, Anthony came up with his first NBA game-winner, hitting a go-ahead floater with 14.1 seconds left to give the Magic a 118-117 lead.

He then sealed it with a pair of free throws, helping the Magic finish the preseason with a 2-2 record.

Anthony finished with 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting, including 2 of 5 from deep. He had four assists, five turnovers and a valuable lesson in cleaning up your own mess at the NBA level.

It was the conclusion of a very impressive preseason for the rookie, who is showing very early signs that the Magic very well may have landed the steal of the 2020 draft.