Oddly enough, for a team not going to the playoffs, the Magic used a playoff rotation Sunday.
In fact, playoff teams normally go with more than just seven guys in a game.
Even teams that are rebuilding and pointing toward the draft lottery don’t like to lose every night.
For the sake of morale and for the sake of your veterans’ sanity, the players have to be reminded what winning feels like.
And it was probably no coincidence that coach Jacque Vaughn played only seven with the game at home, for the benefit of the paying customers.
Only Kyle O’Quinn and E’Twaun Moore came off the bench.
(Nik Vucevic and Ronnie Price were out with injuries.)
Afflalo, Orlando’s leading scorer, was on the floor for 43 minutes, 30 seconds of the 48-minute game. He was on the floor long enough to grab 13 rebounds, tying his career high. Nelson was out there long enough to turn over the ball seven times while also recording 16 points and 10 assists.
Rookie Victor Oladipo, who had 35 points in the triple-OT loss to the Bulls, scored just nine points but took only eight shots, fewest of any of the starters.
The Celtics, who had lost 10 of their previous 11, used 10 guys, with Avery Bradley playing the most by far (37 minutes).
Vaughn said he used his shortest rotation of the season because of matchups against the Celtics. Well, there might be truth in that. My feeling is that the players had had enough of this losing stuff, and that this was a game when young bucks Harkless, Nicholson and Lamb could continue their development another night.
“That’s a team (Boston) that’s got veterans with (Gerald) Wallace and Jeff Green and a lot of areas would present matchup problems for us throughout the course of the game,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn’s vets produced, flinging their bodies on the court, squelching a last-ditch play by the Celtics.
You could sense a letdown when the Magic came out flat in a loss to the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night, running the losing streak to 10. Everyone had had enough. Magic players got together for a team meeting.
Afflalo said of the seven-man rotation, tongue firmly in cheek, “We probably want to disrupt whatever rhythm we had because whatever rhythm we had wasn’t working.”
Afflalo added, “Right now our emphasis is competing for wins and I thought we did that because I could feel no personal agendas.”
Even if the real emphasis for the Magic is on the draft lottery.