Orlando Magic show maturity in puffing their chests out for a win

Cole Anthony and the Orlando Magic got to puff their chests out as they learned some key lessons and scored a win. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Cole Anthony and the Orlando Magic got to puff their chests out as they learned some key lessons and scored a win. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls’ broadcast of Sunday’s game was weirdly offended by the Orlando Magic’s exuberance over their win.

There have been so few opportunities for this Magic team to celebrate something real — not a pretend or moral victory, but an actual win. When Jalen Suggs thundered to the rim for a dunk over DeMar DeRozan and then followed it up with a steal that led to his 360 dunk.

Suggs at one point pointed across to the Magic insignia across his chest as he continued shouting back at the Bulls players.

The Bulls’ broadcast was incredulous over this display of bravado. As if Chicago has not missed the playoffs for the last four seasons and gone through its own struggles to breakthrough with a young roster.

The Magic are trying to celebrate these little moments, knowing they will build up to something bigger down the road. Excuse the Magic then for feeling excited about a 114-95 victory over a short-handed and weary Bulls team. This had been something coming for a long time.

The Orlando Magic got a chance to celebrate a big win and puff their chests out. But the work that went in to get there were laid through their maturity and desire to win.

Its seeds though were planted in the locker room.

In the postgame after their loss Friday to the Los Angeles Lakers, Wendell Carter challenged himself and his team to take responsibility for their third-quarter struggles. He called on the team to do whatever they needed to do to be ready for the third quarter.

Up 16 at the half Sunday, the Magic were again up big and seemingly on their way to a win. The question is what they would do to finish the game and make sure this result went different.

Orlando might have played with youthful bravado through the fourth quarter. But that was built with their strong third quarter where they held the ship steady.

The Magic held onto and expanded their lead and withstood everything. For a young team, that was a huge sign of the team’s growth and potential.

"“I think we showed great composure,” Suggs said after Sunday’s win. “We learned from past experiences. A big thing to that third quarter was at halftime we didn’t talk or go over anything. Wendell spoke up and said, ‘We know what we got to do.’ We don’t need a pep talk, we don’t need to talk about anything. We know we need to come out in the third quarter and set the tone and be the aggressors. That set it for everybody.”"

The Magic withstood the initial rally the Bulls had for them in the third quarter. They played even through the first half of the quarter until a 7-2 lead helped them build a 20-point lead.

The Bulls won the quarter 37-32 and indeed used a 13-0 run to cut the lead to seven. But each time the Bulls made that push, the Magic fought back. When the Bulls got it to seven, Ignas Brazdeikis and Chuma Okeke followed up with back-to-back threes and expanded the lead.

For an Orlando team that has struggled even to lead games, going through and absorbing these runs was a sign of maturity.

"“I think it was great,” coach Jamahl Mosley said after Sunday’s win. “Our guys did a really good job of one at halftime of them talking, communicating what they needed to do coming out of the break. They went on a little run and that was understood because basketball is a game of runs. I was so happy for these guys to understand that they stood their ground. it was great to see the maturity level there as they grew.”"

The Magic are trying to do little things that will build up to winning. They are purposefully trying to celebrate small victories to get there. Their concept of the bell plays are all about these little moments. They are all about doing the little things that will eventually build up to winning.

The team has continued to pull together and do these little things. They have stuck together.

The energy from the group has continued to be good even through these difficult moments. Orlando has still been fighting and persevering. The bench still gets up for big plays and they still celebrate these “bell” plays.

Related Story. 5 questions the Orlando Magic must answer in the 3rd quarter of the season. light

More importantly, the Magic continue to fight even after they take big punches. They have had their blowout losses, but they have rarely played games where they had a poor effort. The Magic have kept finding ways to point to some success.

But they needed to tie the whole thing together. That has been the biggest piece missing.

And clearly, it took some soul searching to get there. To see the team show that kind of collective responsibility to put the game away and undo the struggles of the last two games.

Finishing the game in the second half and winning comfortably — for just the second time the Magic won a game by 10-plus points — was an important sign of the team’s maturity.

They saw a challenge, and one they were struggling with, and worked to correct it.

"“That’s kind of what we’ve been putting emphasis on,” Moritz Wagner said after Sunday’s game. “We know what we need to get better at. A big part of that is your mentality. Especially when you work so hard in the first half, which we have done in the past. We have to do a better job to break the other team and not give them life even if they go on a run. That was our emphasis the last couple of games. I was very happy we were able to do that today.”"

If the Magic’s season is truly about growth, this is the clearest sign of it.

Orlando has had plenty of points where the team could fold and skate by through the rest of the season. Instead, it is clear how invested the Magic remain in their season and each game.

They may not always be able to figure out how to get a win each night. But they are striving to get there and still pushing to do so.

They are still trying to find their way. They are discussing amongst themselves how they can improve and change things.

That is still very different from executing it and getting the win. It is still a long way from consistency and winning on multiple nights. That will remain the biggest challenge for the Magic as they grow and develop.

Everything is still about taking each step as it comes and growing and learning from the team’s mistakes.

This is a young team still learning how to experience and attain success. It will remain a process to get there.

They puffed their chests out Sunday for doing right. They needed maturity to break through.

Next. Orlando Magic need to keep getting up. dark

Now they have to do it again. And develop the maturity to repeat the process so they can be proud again.