Orlando Magic postgame takeaways: Orlando still getting organized early in season

Evan Fournier and the New York Knicks put on a shooting display to defeat the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Fournier and the New York Knicks put on a shooting display to defeat the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

38. Final. 121. 27. 96

After a disappointing performance in their season opener in San Antonio, the Orlando Magic fan base was all too ready to move forward to the next game. Unfortunately, their home opener against the New York Knicks played out in a similar fashion as the Orlando Magic went on to lose 121-96.

The Magic showed good energy to start the game. But quickly found themselves out of the game under a barrage of 3-pointers from the Knicks.

New York went on a 16-0 run over the final 3:15 of the first quarter to open up a 20-point lead at the end of the quarter. That lead would expand to 30 points at halftime, essentially ending the game just as it was getting going.

The Orlando Magic fell behind early and never got back in it as a barrage of New York Knicks threes decided the home opener early.

Orlando looked disorganized on both ends throughout the game. New York hit a franchise-record 24 3-pointers, making 44.4-percent overall from deep for the game and 50.0-percent overall.

The Magic, meanwhile, shot just 39.8-percent from the floor overall. It was a lowly 31.7-percent from the floor and just 7 for 20 from deep.

The 3-pointer helped the Magic make things a little more interesting in the second half. The Magic nearly cut that 30-point halftime deficit in half, inching to within 16 in the third quarter. Orlando looked a lot better in the final two quarters, winning the second half 61-56.

Of course, the Magic needed an 11-0 run to close the game to get there. So any success should be taken with a grain of salt. The Knicks buried enough threes to snuff out that potential run.

They were never challenged.

Postgame Takeaways

Poor defensive chemistry

During the game, and especially on that early run that staked the New York Knicks the lead, the Knicks seemed to be a step ahead of the Orlando Magic.

It is unsure whether the Magic were scheming, or whether it was a result of missing their best perimeter defenders in Gary Harris and Chuma Okeke. Maybe it was the youth of the team, or perhaps it was due to both Wendell Carter and Mo Bamba being on the floor at the time. But the team needs to improve on defending the three.

This was a problem throughout the preseason and in the opener against the San Antonio Spurs. The Magic were scrambling far too much and could not find or track shooters effectively throughout the game.

There were way too many wide-open 3-pointers for New York. The Knicks made 24 3-pointers, setting a new team record for the franchise. More alarmingly, they hit 44.4-percent of their 3-pointers. It was a healthy possession and the Magic just could not find shooters.

Although the Knicks had decent ball movement, they were not doing anything particularly well to generate their looks. It more often seemed like the Magic just were not treating 3-point defense as a priority or found themselves out of position far too much.

The Knicks scored 22 points off 19 turnovers, taking advantage of the Magic’s poor transition defense. They also had 24 fast-break points on 9-for-12 shooting. These are easy places New York found open shots.

It was painful to watch the Knicks be able to get such wide-open looks.

Because of the Magic’s individual player’s ability to defend, this was surprising. Magic fans were expecting to see our team struggle on the offensive side of the ball, but not defensively, at least not like this.

Seeking their own shot

Right now, the Orlando Magic do not have someone who can consistently get their own shot.

Sure, this one is not a surprise. But it needs to be mentioned. The team consistently had to settle for rushed or hurried shots because they could not get into the paint consistently as a threat to score.

Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs combined for 6-for-27 shooting from the field. Against the San Antonio Spurs they combined for 6 for 26.

When the team is cold, it is really hard for the team to get a bucket. Anthony tried to carry the offense, but was ice cold and could not set himself up for good shots. Suggs still looks like the game is going a bit too fast for him. The Magic had no consistent options on the perimeter and no one who could consistently set anyone up.

This is going to have to be something the Magic struggle through and find an answer for until Markelle Fultz is able to come back and be that guy. Having someone who can get to the basket collapses the defense, slows the game down and provides insurance for when the team does get ice cold.

Over time, Coach Jamahl Mosley can continue to scheme a more efficient offense. But it is hard to scheme your way into a decent offense. This problem may stick around.

Seeking leadership and composure

During the third quarter, The Orlando Magic were trailing 69-35 before they went on an 11-0 run to cut it to 69-46. Then Kemba Walker made a highly contested jumper at the end of the shot clock.

On the next couple of possessions, Jalen Suggs attacked the basket and drew a foul, Franz Wagner hit a three, Cole Anthony finally got a pair of threes to fall, and the lead was cut to 73-57, capping off a 22-4 run by the Magic.

That gave the team a brief bit of hope it could climb back into this one. It was at least some positive signs the team can put some of these pieces together.

It is not time to hold a victory parade, but it was a taste of something.

One thing was made clear. When things are going very wrong, or very right, this team has a “by committee” approach. But even with that, the team is searching for a consistent scoring option and someone who can calm the team down.

Even though it is only the second game of the season, this approach could stick around as the youngsters continue to get their feet wet.

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The Magic are 0-2 and head to New York to face the Knicks again on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.