Orlando Magic Grades: Jalen Suggs’ three saves night from Chicago Bulls

Jalen Suggs again delivered a huge shot for the Orlando Magic as they bested the Chicago Bulls for their first road win. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Jalen Suggs again delivered a huge shot for the Orlando Magic as they bested the Chicago Bulls for their first road win. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

107. 24. Final. 108. 38

The Orlando Magic had seen this story before.

A big road lead lost to some player’s individual brilliance. The pressure encircling a young team seeking answers and feeling the pressure to finish. A player lost to foul trouble and the vagaries and randomness of late games (at least it was not an injury, knock on wood).

This all felt too familiar and it seemed the Orlando Magic were destined for the same result against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.

That 48-minute effort? Still elusive. The confidence to finish and execute under pressure? Still just out of reach.

Opportunity has a funny way of working though. It stays just open long enough that it provides chances for redemption. The Magic left the door open for the Bulls to climb back from a 19-point deficit and they took it on DeMar DeRozan’s back.

As they have so many times, the Magic did not quit. And that is when Nikola Vucevic kept the door open for his former team. The usually solid free-throw shooter missed two at the line with a chance to expand Chicago’s lead to four points and 30 seconds to play.

The Chicago Bulls left the door open for the Orlando Magic and Jalen Suggs stormed through it bouncing back from mistakes to bury the big shot and give the Magic a big win.

Orlando corraled the rebound and Jalen Suggs did the rest. He was not missing this opportunity. Not after his mistake-filled fourth quarter.

Jalen Suggs got the ball and sought to attack Ayo Dosunmu quickly. He drove into his body, staggering him back some before he stepped back and drained a 3-pointer with four seconds left.

The Bulls could only get a half-court heave from DeRozan, the one shot he could not hit in the second half, and the Magic prevailed 108-107 at the United Center for their first road win of the season.

This is not how the Magic want to close or end games. But they won the stat that mattered in the end — the final score — and got some needed relief for winning a close game yet again, one of the few this team has been able to survive.

Orlando can worry about the big picture items — learning to hold onto a lead, avoiding fouls and turnovers and finishing games — another day. This was a game where the Magic were given an opportunity for redemption and they fought to take advantage of it when it came.

Player Grades

Jalen Suggs – B-

Jalen Suggs is the hero. He has a knack for stepping up in big moments. The guy is never afraid of the moment. And he is certainly not afraid to make mistakes. Those mistakes do not seem to phase him either. He will get right back up and go again.

That is a great characteristic about him. It enabled him to step up in the biggest moment and hit the game-winning shot. He had his eyes on the basket and made a big play to help the team survive.

But the team was certainly in that spot because of Suggs’ overall struggles still to run the team. He had six turnovers — although just one of Orlando’s eight fourth-quarter turnovers — and made some baffling decisions. He tried to draw a foul and missed a wild layup that led immediately to a runout that put the Bulls up four with about a minute to play.

Suggs still needs better patience and understanding. Especially as the team’s point guard, he has to set the tone and composure for the team. That goes double late in games. This is where he remains inconsistent.

Suggs still had a solid game, scoring 20 points and eight assists. He showed that patience and composure throughout the first half when Orlando built its lead and that was a big reason the team had control early on. Just as it was the reason the team lost control late.

Franz Wagner – B+

What is there to say about Franz Wagner still?

Teams understand he is the best player on the Orlando Magic right now. And teams are still having trouble stopping him. Like Giannis Antetokounmpo, he is doing it largely without taking many jumpers. He is basket or bust right now (one of the bigger overall problems facing this team especially when defenses tighten up).

Wagner scored 20 points on just 5-for-9 shooting as he made his living on the foul line. He added eight assists. Franz Wagner ran perfect pick and rolls with Wendell Carter especially and just got where he wanted on the floor.

His only knock was his foul trouble. He missed the final moments of the game after picking up his sixth foul (controversially on a step-through move after he tried initiating contact with Alex Caruso). The Magic really missed him at that point as they lost their most reliable attacker.

Wagner continues to blossom though.

Wendell Carter – B+

The Orlando Magic were certainly happy to have Wendell Carter back. Everything just seemed to work so much better on both ends of the floor with Carter out there. His screens were excellent. He understands where to be defensively. The intensity for the team just went up with him out there.

Carter definitely still had his moments where he looked a bit slowed by the plantar fascia strain that kept him out Wednesday. But he still managed to score a team-high 21 points, grab eight rebounds and dish out five assists.

Four fourth-quarter turnovers were the biggest blemish on his record. The Magic were struggling to get unstuck offensively and re-establish their lead. Carter was definitely feeling some fatigue as the game came down the stretch.

Gary Harris – A-

It is hard to be too upset with Gary Harris, playing his first game this season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the summer. Harris was not asked to do a ton but he gave the team the stability and consistency they desperately needed from him.

his stat line was meager with seven points on 3-for-5 shooting. He did not seem to try to do too much. This very much felt like a first game back.

But late in the game when the Magic needed to find a cooler for DeMar DeRozan, Gary Harris stepped up to the plate. He played solid defense and slowed DeRozan down even just a little bit. That gave Orlando a small window to climb back into it and stop from being in really big trouble.

Chicago Bulls – C+

The Chicago Bulls have some problems. DeMar DeRozan was brilliant in this one — 41 points, playing the entire second half to give the Bulls some consistent attack. But nothing else seemed to work. The bench plays with good energy and pressure, but the stars were left wanting.

Zach LaVine made only one of his 14 shots. Nikola Vucevic made only 5 of 13 shots, even with the Magic often switching and leaving Jalen Suggs on him in the post. The ball just did not move and Chicago is a poor 3-point shooting team and could not take advantage of any holes the Magic had in their defense.

Orlando definitely played well and gave Chicago problems with its length. But the Bulls do not look like a team that really has all of its ducks in a row.

Next. Orlando Magic's homestand built support, left plenty to work on. dark

The Orlando Magic continue their road trip in Indianapolis as they start a two-game set with the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.