Orlando Magic prove their resiliency to break their losing streak

Paolo Banchero sank several clutch free throws as the Orlando Magic's defense helped them secure a win over the LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Paolo Banchero sank several clutch free throws as the Orlando Magic's defense helped them secure a win over the LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

38. Final/OT. 111. 77. 116

Orlando Magic coach Jamahl Mosley has constantly commented on his team’s resiliency and their ability to bounce back and keep fighting through their mistakes and struggles they expected for a young team throughout the season.

At times, it can feel like the talk of a coach trying to stay positive through a season everyone knew would be tough — something that even LA Clippers coach Tyronn Lue complimented Mosley and his approach for before the game.

There has been unfortunately little proof to that part of the team’s characteristic other than they keep showing and keep fighting, perhaps futilely at times, with so many injuries facing the team.

So looking for proof?

It was all there in the fourth quarter and overtime. It was all there throughout the game. Warts and all. It was all there in the huddle as the Magic kept focused on the task at hand no matter the deficit.

They were going to figure it out and end this losing streak one way or another.

It was there when an 18-point deficit because of some killer three-point shooting that gave way to a strong defensive effort with the team flying around and defending with physicality and force.

It was there when they lost a lat elead only for the team to come back with some critical plays, stops and free throws to go to overtime.

It was there through more late-game difficulties, including giving up an offensive rebound off a free throw with a one-point lead and another late 3-pointer that put the Magic down one.

That gave way to Paolo Banchero forcing his way to the foul line to retake the lead and then a five-second violation on the ensuing timeout. Banchero sank two more pairs of free throws as the Magic again prevented the Clipper from a long inbound.

That nine-game losing streak was gone after a 116-111 overtime win over the LA Clippers at Amway Center on Wednesday. But more importantly, the team saw what its belief could do. It felt the pressure of a close game requiring their execution.

The Orlando Magic have long preached their resiliency, but it came to the forefront as the team grinded and scratched out a win to end its nine-game losing streak.

They delivered on the resilience their coach always believed they had and they only showed in spurts. In an imperfect game, the Magic kept fighting back and scratching and clawing until they finally came out with a win.

"“These guys took the challenge on,” coach Jamahl Mosley said after Wednesday’s game. “They understand in those moments what is necessary to be done. They sat down, they took the challenge on individually as well as collectively to sit down and guard. That’s what we have to do and that’s how physical you can be and understand what we needed to do down teh stretch.”"

It should not be understated how bad the Magic’s first and third quarters were and the hole the team dug out of.

Orlando gave up six 3-pointers in the opening 12 minutes alone, meanwhile the team only shot 4 for 18 from the floor. It was an uphill climb offensively for the Magic throughout the game. And this seemed destined to be another blowout.

This was a hole that the team has let go of the rope on before. But that is not what happened Wednesday night.

Instead, the Magic worked their way back because of their defense. After the first quarter, the Magic gave up 97.5 points per 100 possessions. An absolutely stellar defensive effort in all phases.

"“Our energy shifted and we were just a lot more aggressive on and off the ball,” Bol Bol said after scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds in Wednesday’s win. “That helped us with our energy and that helped us get a lot of stops throughout the stretch.“[The win] was very important for us because it shows when we lock in on defense and do everything correctly, we can definitely be a good defensive team. All of our defense led to fast-break points. As long as we focus on our defense, that will translate to our offense.”"

Except for a bief run to start the third quarter when teh Magic went back down 15, the defensive effort and energy stayed fairly consistent with Lue crediting the Magic blitzing Paul George and Kawhi Leonard for taking them out of the game.

Everything was sharper after that first quarter when the team lost shooters in the corner in a zone defense that struggled to track everyone down. orlando found its gameplan and committed to it.

Further helping matters, the Magic turned the ball over just six times for four points the rest of the game.

Orlando has preached wanting to find that attention to detail and the team locked in on the gameplan and found it, helping it chip away at the lead and stay in the game. It was not perfect, but the team found it again and again when it looked like this young team might finally crumble.

"“I think in order to win in this league, you have to have a high amount of believe in yourself and your teammates,” Moe Wagner said after Wednesday’s game. “Sometimes when you go through tough times and you don’t lose and all your work doesn’t translate into wins, it gets harder and harder. You’ve got to engage in that, communicate on that and talk about that stuff. I think we showed that tonight that we have it. It finally translated.”"

It still took locking in and making big plays down the stretch, another area the team has struggled this year.

No play probably exemplified this more than the five-second violation Orlando drew with a one-point lead and seven seconds left in overtime.

Everyone had their man locked up with clear communication and seamless switching to prevent any space to get the ball in. Yes, the LA Clippers were slow to get into this set, but it was still five seconds nonetheless and a critical turnover that set the Magic up to close the game.

As Mosley put it, this was a moment where the team took accountability and responsibility, a sign of things the team has been growing and developing throughout the season. It was in the huddle that the Magic took on the challenge defensively. They were the ones who set the team up for success.

That was something that happened repeatedly throughout the game as the team kept pushing to come back and kept the belief the Clippers would let them back in the game.

Orlando was not backing down as long as the team did what it was supposed to do.

"“If we just do what we’re supposed to and lock in on defnese, everyone touches on offense, we’re going to live with the results,” Banchero said after Wednesday’s game. “We stay at it and stay consistent, as you can see we went down one time and went down again. We just stayed with it. We didn’t start chucking up shots, we didn’t start gambling and stop playing defense. We just stayed with what we were doing. Eventually we got back in the game and got the win.”"

That has not always been the case this season, especially during this nine-game losing streak. And repeating this effort and focus will be the next big challenge for this young team — although arguably they did that in this one after a strong effort against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday came up just short.

In a long journey for this young team every win is critical in cementing the belief the team will need.

If resiliency is indeed in its DNA, this is a win and a game that showed what that resiliency can do. And how hard the team has to fight and still fight to stay in it and give themselves that chance to win. There are still a lot of mistakes to clean up.

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But that desire and fight to win are critical for a young team. And in this instance, the magic proved their resiliency was not merely talk.