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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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The Orlando Magic lost a sixth consecutive game despite a fourth-quarter fight back against the New York Knicks.

ORLANDO
MAGIC
84
NEW YORK
KNICKS
91
A hopeful hurl from three-point range by Cheap Terrence Ross Jersey with the shot clock counting down had put the Orlando Magic ahead late in the fourth but some poor decisions down the stretch and a strong end from New York means Steve Clifford will be left wondering how he can get this team winning again.

Much of the game lacked quality. At times it was as though both teams were having a competition to see who could shoot the worst, with the low final score telling the tale of what was two poor offensive performances.

But the Magic were faring worse. Shooting problems have plagued the team all season long and this was no different as the team found itself down by 12 at the end of the third. In truth, it could and probably should have been a lot more.

Clifford, though, sensing that there was still an opportunity to bring this dismal losing run to an end opted to go with Cheap Aaron Gordon Jersey, Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross to start the final quarter and it paid off. Without a true point guard on the floor, Gordon was trusted with the ball and drove his team on to bring the score back.

The power forward was doing everything for his team, particularly on the defensive end. He was using his body to close off paths to the basket, challenging at the rim, blocking shots and rebounding. His energy and desire put the Magic back in the fight.

Vucevic, who was outstanding once again and scored his team’s first nine points of the game, continued to hit shots in the fourth whether it was from three-point range or closer to the basket. The Magic’s dependency on the center for offense is enormous but once again he took on the responsibility and delivered.

Even Ross, who did not have his best game, started to contribute in the fourth with seven quick points at the start of the quarter and also hit two huge threes. For a moment it looked as though this dreadful streak was coming to an end.

But having worked so hard to close a 12-point deficit, the glimpse of a win quickly faded away. Ross exited the game for a rest and Clifford opted to go with Cheap Khem Birch Jersey and Dwayne Bacon which seemed to have a negative impact on the team.

Gordon had been trusted to make the right play with the ball in his hands for most of the fourth quarter but when it came to crunch time, his poor decisions let the team down. An optimistic bail-out pass aimed for Vucevic which resulted in a turnover effectively squashed any hopes of a comeback win and condemned the team to another devastating loss.

The team was not helped by foul trouble either. The Knicks got to the free-throw line way too often, including in the final minutes of the game, and scored 24 points off free-throws to Orlando’s 14.

But despite some encouraging signs toward the end of the game, the wider problems cannot be ignored. Orlando shot just 33.7-percent from the field and missed good look after good look. The only reason this was a close game was because New York endured similar difficulties.

Injuries have meant this team is packed with unreliable shooters getting big minutes. While Cheap Evan Fournier Jersey return should ease these problems slightly, these are extremely worrying times for the Magic.

NIKOLA VUCEVIC
C, Orlando Magic
A
Cheap Nikola Vucevic Jersey continued his excellent start to the season by once again playing at an All-Star caliber level. He finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds and was making shots from all over the court, preventing his team from falling too far behind early on by scoring his team’s first nine points. For a team that lacks shooting, Vucevic’s reliability from mid-range and from three is enormous.

He also put in a solid performance on the defensive end. Vucevic is not known for his shot-blocking ability but he finished with two blocks and did well to disrupt New York’s play in the paint, also dealing with the challenge of Mitchell Robinson well. Vucevic certainly cannot be blamed for the team’s shocking run of late and has taken on complete responsibility on offense.

COLE ANTHONY
PG, Orlando Magic
D
Patience is certainly needed with the rookie point guard and he will need time to grow into the league but Cheap Cole Anthony Jersey endured a really tough game which saw him make just 2 of his 12 shots, both of which were from 3-point range. Cole Anthony is clearly still developing his game to learn where he can have success but the shot selection he displayed was really poor.

The 20-year-old takes way too many difficult shots including floaters off the dribble which are often nowhere near going in the basket. Orlando Magic fans will be encouraged by the positive flashes of play he has displayed with his speed and ball-handling but his shot selection and shooting have to get better. Ultimately, he has been forced to take on a bigger role than he should have at this stage in his career due to Cheap Markelle Fultz Jersey injury.

AARON GORDON
F, Orlando Magic
A-
Aaron Gordon may have made the wrong decisions late in the game, but the only reason the Magic were in a position where they might have won was because of Gordon’s overall play. He was fantastic defensively and did a great job guarding Julius Randle who made just 5 of his 19 shots. Late in the game, he used his body brilliantly to protect the basket and contributed on the other end with some big buckets, as well as creating for his teammates.

His decision to try a bail-out pass aimed for Nikola Vucevic late on was a bad one and he missed at the rim just after but there is no disputing that Orlando were much better with Aaron Gordon on the court. He finished just one assist off a triple-double — recording 18 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists. This was a big performance from the 25-year-old which was overshadowed by some bad decision-making late.

DWAYNE BACON
G/F, Orlando Magic
D
A game to forget for Cheap Dwayne Bacon Jersey. He finished with just two points to his name and looked completely lost offensively, missing shots from all over the court. Bacon has had some good performances this season but hurt the team with his poor offense against the New York Knicks, also making none of his three three-point attempts.

The Magic were -19 when he was on the floor and the wing offered very little. He is not someone that should be playing 27 minutes for this team but that is where injuries have left the Orlando Magic during this run. Fournier’s return will ease the pressure on Bacon.

NEW YORK KNICKS
7-8, 6th East
C-
The New York Knicks will no doubt be pleased with the victory but will not look back at this game with much fondness beyond the fight and grit they showed. The team shot terribly, going 35.6-percent from the field and a shocking 18.5-percent from 3-point range. Luckily, Tom Thibodeau’s team came up against an opponent that is even worse offensively.

There is no doubt though the Knicks are an improved team this season. The team was solid but not spectacular defensively despite the low points total for the Magic and while R.J. Barrett is still developing as a player, he put in another encouraging display with 22 points. The team also has a talented veteran in Julius Randle who has established himself as a reliable go-to scorer. There is much more to be positive about for the Knicks going forward under a great coach.

NEXT: Aaron Gordon can unlock passing by keeping things sipmle
The Magic are currently on a six-game losing streak and have fallen to 6-8, ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Orlando Magic continue their road trip Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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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. pic.twitter.com/8aXw60WhWV

— 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. pic.twitter.com/OR18IfqaKM

— 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. pic.twitter.com/qVUS3j2vka

— 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 pic.twitter.com/ICgvJb45fh

— 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 pic.twitter.com/IOAfoMpBop

— 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 pic.twitter.com/7ugwSsr1J8

— 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 pic.twitter.com/DPYynQPu8V

— 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.