Thursday, July 9, 2015

Recap: Magic White 81, Hornets 68

The Orlando Magic's White squad, a compilation team of Development League players and free-agent hopefuls, continued to be the story of the Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League on Wednesday with a third straight victory.
Magic White (3-0) got 16 points and a monster block from center Keith Benson, 15 points and five 3-pointers from reserve guard Scottie Wilbekin and it had three other players score in double figures in an 81-68 rout of the Charlotte Hornets (1-3).
Led by Magic D-League coach Bill Peterson, the White team more than held its own last week in a scrimmage against Magic Blue -- a team with Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Devyn Marble and No. 5 pick Mario Hezonja -- and has beaten the Pistons, Pacers and Hornets this week. Other than a couple of players with brief NBA experience, most of the White's squad is full of players who have travelled the globe while trying to keep the dream alive of playing basketball professionally.
"It's really fun. What basketball is all about is getting guys to come, be hungry and sacrifice a little bit of themselves for the good of the group. And when you can convince them of that, it makes the group look great," said Peterson, who guided the Erie Bayhawks last season. "Our guys are playing hard, making extra passes and they are having multiple efforts. We have a really sound group of people who are doing what we ask of them."
Magic White made life miserable for Charlotte forward Frank Kaminsky, the reigning National Player of the Year from college basketball. Kaminsky missed his first four tries and went just four of 11 from the floor while scoring 13 points. Kaminsky did salvage the day following a dreadful start and ultimately grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots.
Aaron Harrison, who was on the receiving end of Benson's highlight-worthy block in the first half, scored 15 points for the Hornets. P.J. Hairston hit four 3-pointers and chipped in 14 points.
Magic White led by as much as 19 points in the first half but saw its lead shrink to 61-53 by the end of the third period. But Orlando pulled away in the final quarter and coasted to a third straight victory.
"It's a good story what we're doing, but we're all hungry and playing free trying to get (noticed). So it's a really good story," said Benson, a 2011 second-round pick by the Atlanta Hawks who has played professionally in the D-League, Italy, Philippines, Belarus, Lithuania and Estonia. "We've been here for a few days practicing together, and we're doing well now."
Magic White plays Brooklyn on Thursday, while Charlotte has tomorrow off. All 10 teams in the league will be in action on Friday.
Continuing the trend of being them being the best team in the summer league, Orlando White dominated the first half and led the Hornets 43-28 at the break. Sharing the ball well at the directive of Peterson, White had 10 different players score in the first half.
Benson was the standout for the Magic on both ends of the floor. Not only did he make all four of his shots and all three of his free throws for 11 points in the first half, but he had the play of the day while protecting the rim. The 6-foot-11 Benson perfectly timed a dunk attempt by Charlotte's Aaron Harrison, stuffing the shot and knocking the rookie to the floor.
Former University of Florida standout Scott Wilbekin helped the Magic White squad break the game open in the second quarter. He had three 3-pointers and nine quick points as the Magic surged to a 26-18 lead.
Kaminsky got off to a bad start and things stayed that way for much of the half for the former University of Wisconsin star. His first shot of the game was stuffed and his second missed the rim badly for an air ball. He failed to score in the first half, missing all four of his field goal attempts.
Things weren't much better in the first half for Harrison, the former standout guard from the University of Kentucky. After going undrafted in the June 25th NBA Draft, Harrison has been asked by the Hornets to make the switch from shooting guard to point guard at the professional level and he's seemed unsure of himself at times this week. In 15 minutes on the floor in the first half, he had just one basket and his Hornets were outscored by 16 points by the Magic.

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