Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic show fight in falling short in Toronto

Cole Anthony continued to put up stellar numbers as the Orlando Magic fell short again. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Cole Anthony continued to put up stellar numbers as the Orlando Magic fell short again. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

110. 81. Final. 109. 38

Orlando Magic coach Jamahl Mosley has extolled his team’s ability to fight and be resilient. He wants this as much as anything to be their identity. With a young team certain to make mistakes — and they certainly are making them — he wants to see them be able to take their punches and fight back.

Orlando took a big punch in the fourth quarter.

After the Magic rallied to take the lead into the third quarter, preparing for their third close fourth quarter of the season and a bit of a redemptive chance after Wednesday’s loss in the fourth quarter, the team got hit with a hurricane.

The Toronto Raptors burned off a 13-0 run to take an 11-point lead. OG Anunoby got cooking from deep and Orlando’s offense stalled. It looked like the Magic would suffer the travails of a young, injury-depleted team.

Then the team caught fire.

Orlando closed the game on an 11-0 run, capped off with Jalen Suggs drawing a foul on a made 3-pointer with 52 seconds left and followed by Franz Wagner draining a 3-pointer in the corner. Orlando trailed by one in the final moments.

The Magic got the stop they needed to set themselves up for the win. But Gary Trent Jr. was able to knock the ball away from Cole Anthony in the dying moments. Anthony recovered possession, but had to shoot a rushed 3-pointer from midcourt for a 110-109 loss at Scotiabank Arena on Friday night.

The Orlando Magic caught fire late to rally and give themselves a chance to win. But they could not overcome their youthful mistakes in a loss.

The comeback was inspiring. It showed the kind of fight and resolve the team wants to have. This young team is playing some inspiring basketball and putting themselves in a position to win, putting aside the struggles they had to start the season.

"“That’s the thing about this team. That’s who we are. We’re going to keep fighting until that final horn goes off,” coach Jamahl Mosley said after Friday’s game. “These guys all played from the bench to the guys that started played hard and played for each other. We got better tonight.”"

That might be enough of a building block to get this team started. But there is still so much work to do for this team to get where they want to be. The Magic are able to piece together some really positive moments. They are competing at a significantly higher level.

But there are still long stretches — especially when the team breaks its starting lineup — where the team does something that just puts them in the hole. It could be the ball stopping moving in the second quarter when Orlando lost an early lead. Or it could be that big run the team gave up in the fourth quarter.

Putting 48 minutes together and finding consistent playing groups and rotation remains a challenge early in the season. But the Magic are getting better and inching closer to a sustained way to play. The pieces are agonizingly close.

A few youthful mistakes — a poor rebounding stretch here, a spate of turnovers there — are all that stand in the way.

Player Grades

Cole Anthony – A-

Cole Anthony is in complete control of the game right now. He knows when to attack and how to attack and find his spaces to score. He is shooting and driving confidently. Probably, more importantly, or alarmingly, the team misses him when he is not out there. They really miss him when he is not out there.

Anthony resembles the uber-talented player that had the college scouts buzzing right now. He is waiting patiently for his time to attack but when it comes he attacks. He may not be someone who can consistently finish at the rim, but he is crafty with his dribble.

More than that, Anthony is showing some incredible maturity. Coach Jamahl Mosley said the focus with Cole Anthony is ensuring he makes the right play. Anthony is still getting that feel, but his scorer’s instincts are all still there but not overtaking the game.

And he took responsibility for the near-turnover that prevented him from getting a good shot late.

Anthony scored 24 points on 7-for-13 shooting, making five of his six 3-pointers in the game. He was making the right play and attacking whatever the defense gave him. Each time, the ball needed to find his hands because he just kept making the right play.

Mo Bamba – A-

It is hard to ask for a whole lot more from Mo Bamba right now. The turnaround from where he was the last few seasons to now has been impressive, to say the least. A healthy offseason and the confidence from the coaching staff go a long way.

Bamba though was on another level in this one. He attacked early in ways that he usually does not attack. He hit the glass hard and mixed things up, even drawing fouls on the offensive glass just by being present and giving the team a chance to recover for rebounds.

That is simply impressive stuff from the young big man.

"“I don’t think there is anything much more to it than just listening to the coaches,” Bamba said after Friday’s game. “They put me in a position where I can try to demonstrate what I can do out there and make winning plays. It just boils down to the coaches being there and being very direct on what they expect from me and what they want me to do.”"

Bamba finished the game with 14 points and 18 rebounds. The 18 rebounds were the most impressive thing. He just is not known as a great or physical rebounder. But Bamba got after the glass and helped turn the tide on the glass. Orlando gave up eight offensive rebounds in the first half to just one in the second.

His shot was not falling well in this game. But he was still making plays on both ends of the floor. The rebounding step was a big one for Bamba.

Jalen Suggs – B+

Jalen Suggs has had a rough start to his career and his season. Toward the end of the game, Toronto Raptors fans started chanting “Scottie’s better” while Suggs was at the foul line. Players said they either did not hear it or the rookie brushed it off, but Suggs definitely made his mark after that. He made a big defensive play and hit a three for a four-point play. Fire lit?

Not quite. But this was still Suggs’ best game of the season so far. He started to look a whole lot more comfortable on the ball and attacking the basket. His confidence was bubbling, especially after he hit a few 3-pointers to get going.

Suggs finished with 21 points on 6-for-14 shooting. He made four of his eight 3-pointers and dished out three assists. Maybe he could have had a few more if they went down. His turnovers remain his biggest issue. He gets drawn into traps and his handles are not tight when he gets into the lane.

But seeing an offensive burst like this helps a ton.

Gary Harris – B

Gary Harris has had his struggles for a while now. The change of scenery to Orlando has not helped him recapture his spark or consistency at the moment. But Harris started to show some really good things in this one.

He scored 11 points off the bench on 5-for-11 shooting and added three assists. Harris’ best move was working off cuts, where he moved well and got open to finish at the rim. Harris still tries to do a bit too much when he finishes at the rim. And his defense is still solid.

This was the first time he made a real impact in the game. And it was a largely positive one.

Next. 3 players primed to break out this year. dark

The Magic are now 1-5. They are right back in action Saturday in Detroit against the Detroit Pistons.