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Nikola Vucevic, Magic search for rhythm

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The shooting touch of one of the NBA’s best shooting centers is missing in action. The Orlando Magic’s reliable Nikola Vucevic is in a major slump.

Over the last three games, he has made only five of 32 shots. He has scored only 10 points during that span, which also reveals he is not getting to the free throw line either.

The word that comes up among Vucevic and his teammates is “rhythm.” He is struggling so mightily because he can’t find his rhythm.

“I’ve got to find my rhythm and get in the positions I was used to getting into last year,” he said after Monday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers. “I just need to get back into my rhythm because I’ve hit a rough stretch offensively. Hopefully, I’ll get out of it soon.”

As Vucevic struggles, so do the Magic. They lost two of his three nightmare games and only won the Oklahoma City game on Sunday because Serge Ibaka put up career numbers to compensate for the loss of production at the center position.

“He’s just not in a good rhythm right now and we’ll try to get him in a good rhythm,” said Coach Frank Vogel.

Orlando does have some weapons to deploy when Vucevic is in his rhythm. Elfrid Payton is providing strong play at the point guard position and Evan Fournier has been a consistent scorer. The bench has contributed as well.

Things will open up when Vucevic starts swishing some of the shots he is currently clanking. Right now, there is no reason for the opposing big man to come out and challenge his jump shots. That allows big guys to stay back and protect the rim.

Bottom line is an effective Vucevic makes his teammates better. When he is right, this should be a productive offense.

Fournier joins the choir in analyzing the problems of Vucevic.

“We need Vooch badly because he’s big-time and he knows it,” said Fournier. “He’s looking for his rhythm and it’s never easy to go through that, but I have high faith and confidence in him.”

Tonight, the All-Points Bulletin for Vucevic’s rhythm returns to the Amway Center when the Magic host the 2-9 New Orleans Pelicans. Orlando will see Anthony Davis, who, let’s just say, feels the rhythm.

Davis, who is third in the league in scoring with an average of 30.5 points per game, has been unable to score enough, or block enough shots, to create victories.

At least Vucevic has more help from his teammates. When he returns to the Vucevic of old, this team will win its share of games.

Finding his rhythm will wash away the blues.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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