Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic 114, Denver Nuggets 110

The Orlando Magic finished their scrimmage schedule with an energetic and strong performance, defeating the Denver Nuggets.

Orlando Magic
114
Denver Nuggets
110

The spark for the Orlando Magic seemed instantaneous when Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz stepped onto the floor at the NBA’s campus at Disney for the first time.

For Jonathan Isaac, it had been nearly eight months since he last played in a game. He seemed eager to make up for that lost time fairly quickly.

So too did Fultz, playing his first game since arriving in the NBA campus late to tend to a family matter. He too looked eager to get back out on the floor.

The duo only played about seven minutes. But it was a whirlwind that staked the Magic a lead they would not concede — at least while their starters were in — for an 114-110 win at the VISA Athletic Center at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports on Monday.

The Magic scored the first 11 points after the two players checked in and completed a 24-2 run to stake as much as a 21-point lead. Isaac and Fultz scored 18 of those 24 points.

It was scintillating basketball with Fultz pushing the pace and finding Isaac trailing the play. Or even finding Isaac in the corner for threes, even hitting an and-1 3-pointer. It looked like neither player lost a step.

Magic fans were buzzing and excited for the reality the team would be running with its full preferred rotation for the first time since January. Those seven minutes were the best the Magic had looked all week.

Orlando still had work to do to maintain that lead. Isaac and Fultz would not play in the second half, leaving everyone to chew only on that seven-minute spurt. The rest of the game was a mixed bag like the rest of the scrimmages.

There were some good moments — an energetic start that helped Orlando to an early lead and an active defense that forced a ton of turnovers. And there were bad moments — a Jamal Murray-led run that cut the lead to single digits late in the second quarter, a defense that fouled a lot and poor 3-point defense.

Orlando’s starters still had a lot of work to do as they sought their rhythm. But it was still the best overall performance from the Magic in these scrimmages.

The team moved the ball effectively, finding cutters and hitting from the outside to support that ball movement. Defensively, they were active and forced a fair amount of turnovers.

Orlando still needs to tighten up its pick and roll coverage. The Magic gave up a ton of shots to Jamal Murray on drop coverages. That helped the Nuggets battle back into the game in the second quarter.

But Orlando was able to close ranks and maintain a 10-point lead when the starters checked out after the third quarter. The Magic’s deep bench players were ragged for long stretches but made the shots to secure the win.

But it was his offensive game that stood out most. He scored 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting in his seven minutes. It started with a put-back and-1 opportunity on the glass. He then hit a 3-pointer in the corner. He drained a 3-pointer and the foul on a later possession. And he even Euro stepped through the lane for a layup in transition. Isaac was not creating for himself, but he was not bashful about shooting either. More importantly, it was just good to have him out there and everyone fed off that energy.

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JONATHAN ISAAC

F, Orlando Magic

A+

Orlando Magic fans have been waiting a long time to see Jonathan Isaac back on the floor. His teammates have waited a long time to see him back out there. Isaac himself has waited a long time. He did not waste the opportunity. Immediately, he injected some new energy into the game. And the Magic were off to the races.

Isaac did just about everything right — OK, his timing defensively was a tad off and he jumped on a few pump fakes, but no one blames him for being eager. He did a good job providing some defensive presence with two steals. He was running up and down the floor, letting out all the potential energy from seven-plus months on the shelf.

But it was his offensive game that stood out most. He scored 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting in his seven minutes. It started with a put-back and-1 opportunity on the glass. He then hit a 3-pointer in the corner. He drained a 3-pointer and the foul on a later possession. And he even Euro stepped through the lane for a layup in transition. Isaac was not creating for himself, but he was not bashful about shooting either. More importantly, it was just good to have him out there and everyone fed off that energy.