Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic get fourth-quarter redemption to close out Toronto Raptors

Jalen Suggs helped pace the Orlando Magic to a solid victory over the Toronto Raptors. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jalen Suggs helped pace the Orlando Magic to a solid victory over the Toronto Raptors. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

97. 81. Final. 103. 38

The NBA sometimes will give a young team a chance for redemption.

Sometimes they will get the opportunity to see the same situation again and give themselves a chance to learn from their mistakes. And then sometimes it gives them an entirely new challenge they have to think their way through.

The Orlando Magic were up 12 entering the fourth quarter in Toronto, leading the Toronto Raptors in much the same way they led the Indiana Pacers two days earlier. The circumstances were a bit different — Orlando was concerned with its defense throughout Wednesday’s game and leaned heavily on its offense where Friday the team’s defense was leading the way in an otherwise ugly game. But the team’s approach and what it looked to accomplish was the same.

There was the experimental lineup to open the fourth quarter — Cole Anthony, Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton, Ignas Brazdeikis and Robin Lopez. The same kind of lineup that gave away the 15-point lead in just 4.5 minutes to put the Magic in a fight with a hungry Pacers team.

And that group would have its struggles. But it never let go of the rope. The lessons learned from that loss Wednesday to the Pacers sunk in. And that is always what the Magic are after — growth.

The Orlando Magic showed growth as they learned their lessons and gutted out a win, holding onto a lead to beat the Toronto Raptors on the road.

Toronto would close the gap to make the final score — a 103-97 win for Orlando — look closer than the game actually played. But at every turn where the Raptors tried to cut into the lead, the Magic pulled away.

Whether it was R.J. Hampton or Gary Harris hitting a big three or Franz Wagner whipping a pass to an open shooter or the team getting a big defensive stop to get out on the fast break.

With the Raptors desperate to close the gap, they put on a press and the Magic had to find their composure all over again. But Orlando calmly handled the pressure. And while there might have been a few rushed shots, the team closed the game out.

As Cole Anthony put it after the game, this was probably a game the team loses earlier in the year. A game where the team succumbs to its poor shooting — 37.9-percent for the game (the worst field goal percentage in a win this season) — or struggles to maintain the lead when put under a little bit of pressure or the game slows down.

Coach Jamahl Mosley reiterated after the game that it is about growth right now for Orlando. And this was a clear moment of growth for the team. The Magic executed and played well in the fourth quarter. They maintained their lead and sustained all the pressure and runs the Raptors put on them.

That is all anyone can ask for from a young team.

Player Grades

Jalen Suggs – B

It was a rough game by the numbers for almost every player for the Orlando Magic. The game was played largely at the pace Orlando liked, but it was not a beauty in terms of shooting. The Magic were better and did a good job moving the ball but could not get their shots to go in. They needed something to give them some driving force.

Both of Orlando’s guards — Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs — provided plenty of force going to the basket. Suggs though played with that same chip on his shoulder that he did in October. And, for most of the game, he played with good poise and composure, finishing through contact or dishing to open men elsewhere.

He finished with 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds. It was a strong game for him on that front. He was also plenty opportunistic finding moments to shoot the gap and get steals.

His efficiency waned as the game went on. He did not have the turnover issues he sometimes struggles with, but he became worse with his finishing as he fatigues and the game wore on. He shot 4 for 16 for the game overall.

Chuma Okeke – B+

Wendell Carter missed Friday’s game with a non-COVID illness, pushing Chuma Okeke into the starting lineup. That is a long-awaited thing for Orlando magic fans who have felt a lot better about Okeke’s two-way ability for this team. Okeke still may not have quite the shooting consistency, but he showed why everyone wants him to start.

Okeke scored only 10 points and made only four of his 10 shots. But it felt like every one of them was big, especially his two 3-pointers. Okeke kept the ball moving and found his moments to attack.

Okeke’s real value has been on the defensive end. He is always in the right spots and is a pest. He had a big steal late in the second quarter where he stole an outlet pass and fed it ahead for an easy basket. Those are the kinds of plays Okeke is making more regularly.

Franz Wagner – B+

Franz Wagner had moments where he looked like the future star some in Orlando Magic circles think he can get to. He weaved through the lane and aggressively looked for his shot and chances to score. Then there were moments where he looked like a rookie, especially in this kind of a difficult game.

Wagner scored 11 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists. He made 5 of 14 shots as he got caught in the grime of this game.

Wagner’s real value came on defense where he provided the toughest challenge for Pascal Siakam. This is where he looked at his best when he was matched up with Siakam. But it was also where he looked a bit like a rookie as Siakam still finished with 34 points and 14 rebounds. Still, Wagner provided the toughest challenge for him.

Admiral Schofield – B+

Orlando Magic fans were a bit confused and frustrated with the decision to play Admiral Schofield to start the fourth quarter in Wednesday’s loss. Jamahl Mosley is making it clear the team plans to experiment with its lineups and rotations and see different combinations on the floor. Not all of them are going to work. And it does mean the team is giving its two-way players a closer look (Terrence Ross was a DNP-Coach’s Decision in his return to Toronto).

Undoubtedly that early lineup that featured Schofield at power forward struggled in Wednesday’s loss. The Magic were going back to it in this game with Schofield having to fill in with the Magic short-handed on the block.

So give Schofield credit for bouncing back.

Schofield scored only six points on 2-for-6 shooting. He was certainly not shy about shooting. But he was also active on the glass and played with good energy. It was a much better run for him this time.

Toronto Raptors – C+

There was no lack of effort in this game for the Toronto Raptors. Pascal Siakam had things rolling.

But they just could not get over the hump. And it really came down to the Toronto Raptors’ inability to put pressure on the Orlando Magic’s defense.

Outside of Siakam, Orlando was able to lock up anything Toronto tried to do in the paint. The Magic ended up successfully putting a zone on the Raptors.

That is because Toronto is missing Fred VanVleet badly. He spaces the floor and puts pressure in the pick and roll. There is just no one Orlando is afraid of. Toronto made 12 of 37 3-pointers with Gary Trent Jr. missing all nine of his 3-pointers.

The Magic held the Raptors to 21-for-47 shooting in the paint. And a lot of that was simply Siakam posting up as Orlando was able to switch its way into stifling Toronto’s offense.

Next. Markelle Fultz's return previews debate about Magic's backcourt rotation. dark

The Magic are now 16-48 and have the second-worst record in the NBA. They will be officially eliminated from playoff contention with four more losses or four more Charlotte Hornets wins.

The Orlando Magic will get right back in action Saturday as they take on the Memphis Grizzlies.