Orlando Magic Standouts: Orlando Magic lean into their strengths to stand out

Bol Bol and the Orlando Magic leaned into their length to defeat the Charlotte Hornets. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports
Bol Bol and the Orlando Magic leaned into their length to defeat the Charlotte Hornets. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports /

Final. 93. 170. 113. 38

The Orlando Magic started off 0-5 in hard-fought losses to start the season. There was clear frustration and the injuries only made the task harder for the team to take those all-important next steps to tie the whole thing together.

Without a healthy point guard available, the Magic were going to have a tall order. Instead, that absence only narrowed their focus. It forced them to lean into their greatest strength — their superhuman length — and put all the pieces together for a big win.

Their hard work and improvement finally came together in a fantastic 113-93 blowout win against the Charlotte Hornets at Amway Center on Friday.

The Orlando Magic finally brought all the pieces together to earn their first win, going to a jumbo lineup that frustrated and stymied the Charlotte Hornets.

The Magic had a 21-point lead at halftime, closing an 11-point defensive quarter with a 13-0 run and never looked back.

They built as much as a 32-point lead frustrating the Hornets’ drives to the paint with their length and crisp closeouts. With so many arms on the court, the Magic were able to switch effectively and close off the Hornets’ offensive attack.

Orlando outpaced Charlotte in almost every category. The Magic shot 49.4 percent from the field and held the Hornets to just 38.4 percent shooting. Charlotte shot just 31.1 percent through three quarters before dropping 40 in a statistically irrelevant fourth quarter.

The Magic’s offense moved with 28 assists, helping put six players in double figures, after the team has struggled with its passing and ball movement through the start of the season.

They dominated the paint scoring 56 points in the paint to the Hornets 38, and they played amazing defense which is great to see from this young core.

Here are the standouts from Friday’s win:

Paolo Banchero

Paolo Banchero continues his rookie reign and had another amazing night. He has yet to score fewer than 20 points and continued that with 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting and 2-for-4 from three. He did this while securing his second career double-double in just six games with 12 rebounds.

He was lethal from all three levels of scoring. He was great driving to the basket, he was great from midrange he was deadly and he even had it going from behind the arc including a highlight-level step back three late in the game for his final score of the night.

His offense is so polished for a rookie and he continues to dominate in every aspect of scoring.

He even continued his great playmaking and added seven assists to his near triple-double night. He had the highest plus/minus on the team with +27 when he was on the floor and even stepped up defensively.

He got the assignment of Dennis Smith Jr. and held him to just 4 points on 2-for-7 shooting. All without fouling.

This is a great thing to see from the rookie so early on. If he can remain a solid defender he will really be a do it all player that is an all-around talent.

Getting the assignment to guard a point guard and being able to move his feet and still play good defense is so impressive. There is still work to do there, of course. But Banchero is slowly at least understanding his defensive responsibilities and potential.

Banchero was the best player on the floor and continues his early rookie of the year campaign.

Bol Bol

Bol Bol got his first start with the Orlando Magic and made the most of it.

In 27 minutes, he had 11 points and seven rebounds with a steal, a block and an assist. He shot 4 of 6 from the floor to boot, including a two-handed jam over Mason Plumlee and a coast-to-coast layup for an and-1.

Bol showed again tonight that he can do it all.

His elite offensive skillset for his size along with his great rebounding and defense made his presence felt in this game even if it all did not show up on the box score.

He was a defensive presence too. He was matched up with P.J. Washington and held him to just five points on 2-for-9 shooting and 1-for-6 from three. His defensive ability is just as impressive as his offensive ability.

He runs the floor like a guard and gives the Magic efficient minutes every night.

Bol is averaging 9.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and an outstanding  2.6 blocks per game which is fourth in the league right now.

Mo Bamba

Mo Bamba was outstanding Friday and had the best game of the season so far. In 17 minutes, Bamba recorded 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting and 2-for-5 from three, along with six rebounds, three blocks and an assist.

Bamba was getting it done on all aspects of the floor. He started the game 2 for 2 with an and-one alley-oop slam and a 21-foot contested midrange shot at the buzzer to end the first quarter.

He did not look back. This includes a 12-point fourth quarter where he scored 12 points in 3:08 to put the game out of reach.

Bamba shoot well from 3 and was a dominant force inside.

Not only was he a force inside on offense but on defense too. His three blocks were his first three blocks of the season, but that is exactly what you want to see from him as Bamba is a known defensive force.

Bamba, who has struggled so far this year, was still block-hungry as he had five fouls. But it is great to just see him play to his full potential, shooting efficiently from everywhere in less than 20 minutes while being a defensive beast.

Chuma Okeke

Orlando Magic fans are probably rejoicing in their seats finally getting to watch Chuma Okeke play lengthy minutes and play like himself. The Magic have been waiting for Okeke to finally get it together after seeing flashes from him last season and it finally came together in Friday’s win.

Okeke played 29 minutes and scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out two assists and grabbed one steal on 3-for-7 shooting and 2-for-5 from three including a deep buzzer beating 3-pointer from 27 feet out.

Okeke seemed comfortable and was big for the Magic in their first win.

His playmaking was good too as he moved the ball well, made the right decisions, and had two assists that led to three-pointers which means he was responsible for 16 points this game.

Okeke who was 0 for 6 from the field and 0 for 6 from three in his last two games bounced back and finally showed what he can do for the Magic in big minutes.

The Magic sit at just 1-5 this season but have looked really good even in losses and especially in this game. This could be the spark and the win they needed to give them some confidence and momentum going into Dallas on Sunday.

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They pulled out a great win despite shooting just 27.0 percent from three. Once the shots start to fall, and with the emergence of star rookie Paolo Banchero along with the help from the rest of the team, the Magic could be a team that no other team looks forward to playing.