It probably wasn’t exactly how Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn envisioned it but he defeated his mentor, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, earning Orlando’s second consecutive win in the process.
Granted, his 104-100 victory at the Amway Center was in an exhibition game.
To wit: Tim Duncan (12 minutes) and Kawhi Leonard (six minutes) were used sparingly. The Spurs struggled to score efficiently. These things don’t happen often in the regular season.
But for the time being, Vaughn can feel good about his team, whose defense, along with sloppy execution, stifled last year’s top-ranked offensive team.
Aside from Duncan and Manu Ginobili, San Antonio’s offense was sputtering in the first frame. They missed 18 of 26 field goals but because Orlando committed five personal fouls, leading to six free throw attempts, they exited with a narrow two-point lead.
Guard E’Twaun Moore, acquired from the Houston Rockets in free agency, scored 10 of his 14 points in the second quarter. The Magic offense was much more efficient, outscoring San Antonio by 11 points, while the nominally effective Spurs offense continued to stall.
As such, the first half lead swelled to nine points.
The No. 1 ranked offense eventually generated solid 3-point looks, hitting four of six attempts from beyond the arc. The deficit was whittled down to seven points although Orlando — namely Glen Davis, who scored 11 points in the third quarter — continued to shoot well.
The four-point loss, while rather small, isn’t indicative of the true gap between the Magic and Spurs.
A garbage time lineup of Patty Mills, appearing in his first preseason action since Oct. 6, Gary Neal, Derrick Brown, Josh Powell and DeJuan Blair cut the gap, which was double digits with three minutes remaining.
While the win itself will be a mere footnote, the Spurs exuberated an immense amount of respect for the 37-year-old Vaughn. Each player found Vaughn and embraced him. Considering the state of his team, results like tonight’s may be few and far between for Vaughn.
The prodigee will get his first crack at defeating his mentor in the regular season on Nov. 28 in Orlando.
With the loss, the Spurs drop to 3-3 in preseason. The Magic improved to 2-4.
Parker leads team in minutes: Tony Parker earned a team-high 32 minutes tonight as his conditioning was in question. Interestingly, he played in the fourth quarter until he was replaced by Neal with 6:22 remaining. Parker finished in double-figures but he missed 10 shots in doing so. The 30-year-old point guard has yet to regain last season’s form.
Derrick Brown’s turn: Brown didn’t play a single minute yesterday while Eddy Curry earned seven minutes. The tables turned tonight as Brown, who was more vocal defensively and flashed a decent perimeter shot, scored nine points in 14 minutes. Brown would have finished in double-figures but a dunk was wiped away because of a kicked ball. The Spurs have one preseason game remaining and a decision – if there is one — will likely be made shortly after.
Patty Mills returns: Having missed the last five games, Mills was finally healthy enough to play. He was active on both ends of the floor, finishing with six points. He missed each of his four 3-point attempts, though.
Next opponent: The Spurs will return to San Antonio for their final exhibition match against the Washington Wizards on Oct. 26. Tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CST.