Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic step up in the clutch to down New York Knicks

Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner stepped up with several big plays in the Orlando Magic's win over the New York Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner stepped up with several big plays in the Orlando Magic's win over the New York Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

27. Final. 104. 38. 96

The New York Knicks seemingly undid three quarters of hard defensive work with a quick spurt. Alec Burks got free and was firing away as the Knicks erased a 10-point deficit and built a six-point lead of their own.

For an Orlando Magic team that has rarely played in close games this season, this was a gut-check moment. They were either going to let go of the rope and let this game slip away, or they were going to get down, get a little dirty and find a way to win the game.

It is probably the best of signs for a young team that in this environment and on this road trip, they chose the latter.

Everyone seemed to make a big play from that point forward.

Jalen Suggs found Franz Wagner cutting to the basket for a hoop. Jalen Suggs got a steal and hit a three off a ball reversal from Wendell Carter. Mo Bamba blocked a shot out of bounds before Terrence Ross got a steal and a run-out dunk.

Franz Wagner helped the Magic climb back to the lead for a good with a monstrous two-handed throwdown over Mitchell Robins that drew a foul. Cole Anthony hit a running layup.

Then finally, Suggs stole an outlet pass off a turnover and found Carter under the basket for an alley-oop from mid-court.

All the while, the Magic gave up just six points in the final 5:45, making good on that defensive effort to secure a 104-98 victory at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

The Orlando Magic got contributions from everyone in a gut-check fourth quarter to pick up their most complete win of the season in beating the New York Knicks.

This was the most complete game the Magic have played all season. They withstood runs and their own mistakes and offensive shortcomings early to stay in the game. They used their defense to stick with things and charge their offense.

Everyone stepped up in some way to secure the win. This was something the Magic can build and grow on.

Player Grades

Jalen Suggs – A-

Jalen Suggs has been told all season long to stay confident. Suggs said everyone in the organization has been in his ear trying to keep his confidence up and keep him believing in the process and believing in himself. Suggs related one story postgame that might get him trouble but speaks to how this team is staying together. He said Moritz Wagner came up to him to tell him he is “a bad mother f****.”

We will let you figure out what we will not print here. But Suggs played like it this game for his best game in an Orlando Magic uniform this year.

Suggs scored 13 points on 5-for-12 shooting and hit three of his four 3-point shots. He was very confident all night long, stepping into his shots and hitting them in big moments.

It was the other plays he made that added to it. There was a block of Mithcell Robinson. He was diving on the floor to save loose balls. He had several steals, including a strip of Derrick Rose that led to an emphatic two-handed jam. This is the Suggs the Magic imagined. A really strong showing.

Terrence Ross – A-

Terrence Ross had a marquee performance against the New York Knicks last time out in the Garden with 22 points in the fourth quarter. He did not do that this time around, but he was still vitally important. And Orlando Magic fans concerned about his slow start to the season are probably breathing a sigh of relief after this run of play.

Ross finished with 19 points on 6-for-15 shooting, making 3 of 8 3-pointers. Those are not the greatest numbers. But Ross continued to be a major threat and the Knicks treated him as such, denying him the ball hard in the first half to the point the Magic offense stalled.

But Ross got himself going. And there were stretches where his shooting helped settle the Magic and get them back focused. That is what a good veteran is supposed to do. This was a solid outing from Ross. It is hard to complain about the result.

Franz Wagner – A

Franz Wagner continues to impress. Like really impress.

This was not just about his monstrous dunk that gave the Orlando Magic the lead for good — although Wagner is collecting quite a collection of bodies early on in his career. That kind of fearlessness is one of the reasons he has endeared himself. So has his smart play.

Wagner finished with 16 points and nine rebounds on 6-for-11 shooting. He was also outstanding defensively, helping hold Julius Randle to 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting, including 4 for 10 from deep. Randle was essentially ineffective all game and Wagner deserves credit for his discipline and his defense all night long.

Wendell Carter – C+

One of the big criticisms of Wendell Carter in his time with the Chicago Bulls was his unwillingness to shoot at times. There was a hesitancy to his game and that allowed defenses to catch up and bottle him up. His arrival in Orlando was a fresh start for the big man.

So, we have to dock him for being hesitant to shoot. There were several possessions where Carter had a clear shot and he paused with a pump fake instead of firing away. The Orlando Magic need him to shoot those shots. Carter got into foul trouble early and that limited his aggressiveness too. That is obviously a huge problem for the team.

Carter finished with 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting, adding nine rebounds. The Magic filled in even with some of his struggles (along with Cole Anthony who had 15 points on 5-for-21 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and seven assists). But the Magic need an aggressive Carter on both ends.

New York Knicks – C

The New York Knicks are in a funk offensively. It is very clear and the Orlando Magic kept them reeling. Their offense simply stalled all night. The Magic did a good job switching seamlessly and keeping the Knicks from the paint. But a lot of it was their own doing with unforced turnovers and settling for threes instead of attacking the paint.

New York only came back into this game because of its bench with Alec Burks leading the charge in the fourth quarter. He scored 13 of his 15 points including four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. He was key in New York taking the lead. And that group had good chemistry with Obi Toppin running to the rim and Immanuel Quickley working off the dribble.

They ran out of gas and the Knicks reloaded to an uninspiring starting group. New York has to get its mojo back.

Next. Orlando Magic still committing to defensive identity. dark

The Magic improve to 4-11 on the season. The Orlando Magic’s road trip continues Friday against the Brooklyn Nets.