It seems likely the Orlando Magic will continue to play rookie guard Victor Oladipo in critical fourth-quarter situations, despite his struggles late in Saturday night's 108-100 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Magic officials appear intent on giving Oladipo on-the-job training — perhaps even at the expense of Jameer Nelson's playing time. Though healthy, Nelson watched the final 17 minutes of Saturday's game from the bench.
Oladipo finished with nine turnovers, but he also scored 10 points, collected four rebounds and compiled six assists.
"He'll continue to learn and grow from it, and that's a reason why he had an opportunity to be in the fourth quarter," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "Like I've said before, there's no simulation for that in practice to be within four with six minutes to go and have the chance to lead his teammates."
One of Oladipo's strengths is his confidence, and his confidence is one trait that helped make Magic officials determine he can handle the transition from playing shooting guard to playing point guard.
Oladipo has known there will be highs and lows, and coaches often tell him that he's in the midst of a long learning process.
"It's just tough sometimes, because at the end of the day, you just want to win, and you want the best for your team and yourself," Oladipo said. "So, it's just tough. I've just got to keep learning, keep grinding."
Solomon Jones didn't have to wait long to return to game action.
After he missed seven consecutive games because of torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee, Jones played eight minutes in Saturday night's loss.
"It felt good to be back on the floor [after] being away from my teammates, not being able to participate for about two or three weeks," Jones said. "It would've been a little bit better if we could've gotten a win. But, other than that, my knee's feeling pretty good and I'll just keep rehabbing it and go from there."
Jones' return came at an important time for the Magic.
Kyle O'Quinn has a sprained right ankle and might be out for a while.
The Magic already had injury issues in their frontcourt with power forward Glen Davis still rehabbing his surgically repaired left foot and combo forward Tobias Harris sidelined by a sprained left ankle.
In his first game back, Jones sank the only shot he attempted and gathered two rebounds.
Afflalo stays 'hot'
Arron Afflalo continued his hot streak in the loss to Dallas.
In his first game since he scored a career-high 36 points in Wednesday's win over the Milwaukee Bucks, he scored 25 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 13-of-14 shooting from the free-throw line.
"He's an aggressive player who's got it going right now," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's what we call a 'hot player.' "
Afflalo is one of four Magic players who are listed on the 2014 NBA All-Star Game ballot.
The others are Oladipo, Harris and Nik Vucevic.
• The Magic are struggling at the free-throw line so far, making just 71.8 percent of their foul shots. But there is a positive. After they averaged an NBA record-low 16.6 free-throw attempts per game last season, they're averaging 21.3 attempts per game this season.
• The Magic will have Sunday off.
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