The Orlando Magic held a one-point lead entering the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
Like their season-opening loss to the Detroit Pistons, they were in control for most of the game. They had moments of pure brilliance on both offense and defense. But things fell apart quickly and the team seemed to be hanging on.
The Magic’s resilience certainly kept them in it. Their budding young star in paolo Banchero certainly kept them in it.
But Orlando did not have the eye from range or the eye of Trae Young to keep them in it. Eventually, their own mistakes, like they did Wednesday night, doomed the Magic to an 0-2 start.
The Hawks turned five Magic turnovers in the fourth quarter into eight points as the Magic’s shooting struggles finally kept the team from keeping pace with the high-powered Hawks in a 108-98 Magic loss at State Farm Arena.
The Orlando Magic suffered a cold spell and mistakes in the fourth quater once again as the Atlanta Hawks sent the Magic to 0-2 on the season.
Atlanta is an experienced team that found its groove. Orlando is a young team that does not quite know how to keep its focus of execution for the full 48 minutes. The Magic are still working on those fine details they know they need to make to get over the hump and pick up a win.
That is a big part of what this season is about — the “leveling up” that Jamahl Mosley constantly talks about.
The Magic had a lot of things working for them, including a stifling defensive effort for most of the night on Trae Young, at least until Jalen Suggs left in the third quarter with a sprained ankle.
But they struggled to shoot all night long, finishing making just 41.2 percent of their shots and 8 of 34 from beyond the arc. Cole Anthony had four of those 3-pointers. It is just hard to win games with shooting that bad.
But Orlando still held the lead until the turnovers started to pile on. that is when Atlanta was able to pounce and build on its small lead. Again, the Magic made costly mistakes that kept them from winning.
Cole Anthony – A
Cole Anthony made his season debut and played a phenomenal game off the bench. He recorded 25 points and two assists with a steal and a block on 8-for-12 shooting and 4-for-5 shooting from three.
Anthony was the main reason the Magic were even in this game.
In 28 minutes off the bench, he was the spark the Magic needed. He immediately scored two consecutive and-1 baskets and scored eight straight for the Magic in the first quarter to give them an early lead.
He kept this hot shooting the whole game and showed what may be to come for him this season. He scored 17 in the first half and still played great in the second half. He shot with great efficiency and you saw an improvement in his defense, although not perfect some improvement is all that is necessary.
Paolo Banchero – B+
Paolo Banchero came back to Earth after an unreal performance in his debut game. He was able to secure his first career double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. He also added two assists, a steal and three blocks.
Defense is a major reason for a good grade in this game. He really made himself felt on that end.
Coming into the league, his defense was his biggest uncertainty. He had three blocks and a steal, along with some great contests, only fouling one time.
He had a great game statistically but still looked like a rookie. He had a team-high four turnovers as he tried to force his way to the basket a lot to get the offense moving.
Banchero was still the Magic’s best offensive option even though he was not nearly as efficient as he was Wednesday night. He shot 6 for 18 from the field and 1 for 6 from three. This is very unlike Banchero as he is a quite efficient player.
He is a rookie so no one is faulting him for not having back-to-back career nights, especially against a talented defensive team like the Hawks.
Wendell Carter – C+
Wendell Carter was a tough one to grade.
He put up 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists. He was great in transition, around the basket and on the boards. He continued to show he is a good passer from the center position.
But this performance was once again ruined by an unacceptable lack of efficiency.
He shot 4 for 13 from the field and missed all seven of his 3-pointers. For your center to shoot such a low percentage is concerning. If he is going to be the big man in the first unit, he needs to be able to get better shots and stop settling. He settled for a lot of threes and mid-range shots when he has the ability to take it to the rim.
This was a big problem for him last year and he needs to learn how not to settle, especially in a game where the jump shot is not falling.
He also needs to be more controlled going to the basket, he had an offensive foul in the first quarter on a charge, and he got blocked by Clint Capela two feet from the basket. He needs not to settle and make sure that he is controlled and taking good shots.
Defensively he struggled with fouling. And while his pick and roll coverage was solid and helped hold Trae Young to an 0-for-7 performance in the first half, he was as guilty as anyone else for putting the Hawks on the line at key moments.
Carter is still solid. But he fell in love with his 3-pointer and did not provide the paint protection the team needed after a stellar first quarter.
Franz Wagner: C-
Franz Wagner has big expectations this season and was very disappointing in the game against the Atlanta Hawks. He had eight points, seven rebounds, threee assists and four steals.
He rebounded the ball great offensively and defensively, continued his great playmaking and defended well, picking up right where it left off last year. He had four steals and was great defending on the perimeter and on the inside.
His offense is where his low score comes in. Dejounte Murray pressured him well and Franz Wagner was clearly frustrated with his own performance.
He shot 4 for 10 which is not great but not bad. But for him only to take 10 shots in this game is terrible. For someone who was the second scoring option last year, and in a game where the first option came off the bench, for him to take 10 shots is disappointing.
He just could not get much going to the basket and seemed hesitant when he was on the ball. Although he is a great playmaker he needs to not be as passive and learn how to take over a game, especially when his team needs him.
He shot 0 for 3 from three and did not attempt to even get into a rhythm.
If he wants to emerge as a star, and be a top player on the Magic and in the league, he has to take more shots, which was one of his flaws last year as well.