Orlando Magic Grades: Undermanned Orlando Magic dig deep to snap losing streak

Robin Lopez was a rock for the undermanned Orlando Magic as they scored a needed win. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Lopez was a rock for the undermanned Orlando Magic as they scored a needed win. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

147. Final. 100. 38. 93

The clock was ticking toward the end of the game.

It did not care that there were only 17 available players total between the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets. It did not care that most of their regular starters were in health and safety protocols and otherwise unavailable for this game.

The schedule said there was a game and it was going to get played. Someone had to win.

The Orlando Magic did their best to stay in the lead, building as much as a 17-point lead in the third quarter after leading by as much as 16 in the first half. But the Brooklyn Nets tied it up behind some crazy offensive rebounding from David Duke Jr. and the expected poor shooting from a Magic team already undermanned and poor offensively anyway.

With two minutes to play, this was a tie game and someone had to win. Those are the rules after all.

So as the clock started to wind down, the Magic needed a bucket.

The Orlando Magic dug down deep despite too many absences to name to break their seven-game losing streak with a win over the Brooklyn Nets.

They tried to get into one of their more reliable players in veteran Robin Lopez. He had the ball in one hand as the Nets chased him down from behind and tried to knock the ball out of his hands. The play broke down quickly as the ball got tipped away from him. He recovered in time to get it to Chuma Okeke relocating beyond the 3-point line.

Okeke, who has struggled with his shot for much of the season, drained the basket and gave the Magic the lead again.

Orlando struggled to get stops and rebounds for much of the fourth quarter but got the one they needed. That set up Franz Wagner to drive through the lane somehow get the ball through a sea of hands to get it up toward the basket.

It somehow went in and the Magic were able to survive and pick up a 100-93 win, their first win since Dec. 1 to snap a seven-game losing streak.

Through all the odds of missing players, sudden replacements and jumbled lineups, the Magic found a victory through pure effort and determination. Orlando is scrambling and trying to survive this time with so many players out. This was a just reward for that effort, even if the Nets were also doing the same.

Player Grades

Robin Lopez – A-

Robin Lopez came to Orlando and told everyone exactly what he expected to be for this young team. He was the relief pitcher, meant to be sprinkled in and accomplish very specific goals. He was willing to do whatever the team asked of him whenever they asked of him.

Surely, he did not see a time when the Magic would need this much from him. And certainly, Magic fans never thought they would be able to rely on him for so much either.

Lopez was a rock in the post. Any time he got two feet in the paint and his man behind him, it felt like an automatic bucket. That is how he scored a season-high 20 points on 10-for-22 shooting. It was just a reliable play.

Eventually, the Brooklyn Nets had to double. That is part of how he ended up with five turnovers. Still, that stability was necessary for the team to have a chance to win this one. Lopez was just solid.

Franz Wagner – B

This is an impossible situation for Franz Wagner. The Orlando Magic have suddenly asked him to be the team’s primary scorer, leading ball-handler, point guard, ace defender. Everything.

It is sometimes easy to forget that he is just a rookie. And sometimes, he is going to look like it. Still, those rookie games are extremely productive. Like this one. Wagner makes a positive impact on the court.

Wagner finished the game with 14 points on 4-for-14 shooting. He grabbed 11 rebounds and added six assists for good measure. It was a lot of in-between stuff with Wagner struggling to shoot. He was able to wedge himself into the lane but he was struggling to finish at the rim and stay on balance. That remains his biggest offensive weakness.

But Wagner keeps making a positive impact. Whether it was some gritty defense or his ability to crash the glass.

Chuma Okeke – A

Chuma Okeke has needed some opportunity to get himself going. His shooting struggles this year have been well noted as he just has not gotten into a rhythm.

Some of that is because of the bone bruise to his hip that slowed him through training camp. Getting up to speed during the games and season is a whole lot tougher.

With the team so undermanned, they have had to turn to him and Okeke has stepped up.

It was not just the big three (and multiple threes) he hit in the fourth quarter. That was a shot of a confident player who has found something lately. Okeke scored 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting with three 3-pointers and six rebounds.

More importantly, was the energy Okeke brought defensively. He had one big play where he knocked the ball away from Patty Mills multiple times before finally stealing it from him and leading to a scramble the Orlando Magic recovered and fed to him for a dunk.

Hassani Gravett – A-

The four guys the Orlando Magic signed from the Lakeland Magic are in a ridiculously tough spot. They were coming off a busy part of their schedule. Hassani Gravett told Dante Marchitelli of Bally Sports Florida several of them were told to pack up and be ready to join the Orlando Magic on Friday afternoon and had literally a few hours to be ready for their first NBA games of the season. And a road trip after.

Gravett really stepped up in Saturday’s win. He scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds, playing with tons of energy. Especially on defense where he remained a pest throughout the game. He was confident with his shot and had a nice dribble move to finish with a lay-in.

It was no surprise he was the choice to be the Magic’s nominal point guard in their closing lineup.

Brooklyn Nets – A-

The Brooklyn Nets were not feeling sorry for the Orlando Magic entering this game. They had just as many players out with injuries and in health and safety protocols. This game had to be all about effort and determination.

The Nets certainly did that, even though they were the ones constantly chasing the lead throughout the game. David Duke Jr. deserves a lot of credit for the hustle he put in — 18 points, 14 rebounds, eight offensive rebounds. He was hustling to get to every loose ball in the fourth quarter. That was a big reason the Nets got back in the game.

dark. Next. Orlando Magic keep fighting as injury bug gets worse

The Magic improved to 6-25 on the season. They continue their road trip Monday against the Toronto Raptors.