Orlando Magic’s historic first quarter a tribute to team’s growth

The Orlando Magic are banding together and growing in significant ways. A 50-point first quarter is only a sign of this growth. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic are banding together and growing in significant ways. A 50-point first quarter is only a sign of this growth. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

124. 125. 135. 38. Final

History for the Orlando Magic was made in the most nondescript way possible.

Cole Anthony brought the clock down as long as he could before attacking, drawing contact on a reach and going to the foul line. He drained two free throws as he normally does.

The last free throw got a bit of a louder ovation though. It was the Magic’s 50th point. All before the first quarter ended.

That it happened in such a mundane way is exactly the point the Magic will need to drive home.

The entire season, coach Jamahl Mosley has asked his team to dominate the simple. It is a mantra that is posted on every whiteboard in practice and before the game. The Magic want to do the simple things well — move the ball, communicate and bring the most effort. That is what it will take to win.

It is what the Magic did to build as much as a 29-point lead in the first quarter and take that 50-22 lead after one quarter. Most importantly, it is what they did to hang on as they slowly lost grip on the things that helped them to that historic start in the first place.

It was a sign of the team’s growth and confidence and how it is starting to spread and sprout from this young team.

The Orlando Magic’s fourth win in a row came thanks to a historic 50-point first quarter and plenty of solid plays throughout to hold on and get the win.

In the end, it was those little plays — like Paolo Banchero digging out an offensive rebound to give back to Bol Bol for a back-breaking three or Markelle Fultz running down a long rebound to do the same — that gave the Magic their fourth straight win, 135-124 over the Hawks at Amway Center.

The Magic entered the season saying they would dominate the simple. And that is what they are starting to do on a nightly basis.

"“I think it shows how talented this team is, what we’re capable of when we are locked in on both ends of the floor, being unselfish,” Fultz said after Wednesday’s win. “We were just out there competing and having fun. Nobody was thinking about who was scoring, nobody was thinking about personal things. We were all locked into the gameplan. We all just wanted to win this game.”"

The Magic were stunning in their efficiency and brutality in the first quarter.

It was the first 50-point quarter in franchise history and just the ninth 50-point first quarter in NBA history. The Orlando Magic ended up winning their first game wire-to-wire since Aug. 2, 2020 (the infamous game against the Sacramento Kings in the Bubble).

The team was killer on offense, shooting 16 for 25 (64.0 percent) from the floor and 6 for 10 from beyond the arc. The Magic got to the line for another 13 free throws, making 12, and had 12 assists as the ball zipped around the perimeter to the open man and from inside out.

But it was the defense that stood out much more. Orlando forced seven turnovers for 14 points and pushed the ball upcourt quickly for nine fast-break points. The team played at the pace it wanted to play at and controlled the tempo.

Like much of this win streak it started with stellar defense that locked down the paint and made it tough for Atlanta to get much of anything going offensively.

"“All being on the same page,” Bol said after Wednesday’s game. “That just makes us more confident knowing we all have each other’s back. Especially on defense. That gives us a lot more confidence because we know we are on the same page.”"

The good times did not last. And that may be the ultimate lesson for the team — for both good and bad.

The simple things the Magic did well started to fall by the wayside defensively as the team continued to hit shots at a good enough clip to keep the Hawks at bay.

This win streak has been built on the team’s improved defense. That is what helped supercharge the team’s 50-point first quarter. But that slowly broke down as the Hawks started to break down the team’s blitzing defense.

The Magic were scrambling some to slow things down and stay connected with the Hawks’ attack to the paint. Atlanta trimmed the Magic’s lead from 28 at the end of the first to 14 by halftime with a 40-point quarter. They kept scoring, cutting the lead to single digits on several occasions as the Magic struggled to find that same energy.

But each time, Orlando was able to push the lead back out and stay in relative safety. The Magic continually made the little plays like beating the Hawks to offensive rebounds and loose balls or finding the pass to get an open shooter or hitting a big shot to keep the margin comfortable.

These were certainly not the kinds of plays the Magic made earlier in the season to win games.

"“We continue to talk about growth with this group,” Mosley said after Wednesday’s game. “Early on in the year it was talking about basketball is a game of runs. When you make those runs and then defensively can you get three stops in a row? Can you put that together? Can you get the open shot and not turn the basketball over and get a shot every time down? Winning those mini-battles in the game will change it for us.”"

Fultz said the team would sometimes drop its heads when they faced adversity earlier in the season. For the team to stick with it and keep encouraging and building each other up in the huddle and answering these runs is a clear sign of growth.

The Magic built a cushion to give them some margin for error. They answered those runs by sticking together and believing in each other. They trusted the shots would come. There were frustrating moments, but the team shook them off and fought back to keep themselves in the lead.

That is what was the biggest sign of growth for this team. The clearest sign they are beginning to do the things that have been asked of them throughout this season.

Right now, the Magic are gaining the mindset that they can go out and win. The belief this team can come out on top is driving so much of this change.

A 50-point quarter is just proof of how it can all come together.

"“It’s just showing what we’re capable of,” Fultz said after Wednesday’s game. “Now that we’re showing it, there is no going backward from here. We have to continue to build and continue to push each other. And a big thing of what you are seeing is us believing in each other and having each other’s back. We’re able to compete harder, we’re able to get into the ball. You are seeing the product of trust and belief.”"

There is still a lot of season left and a long way for this team to go. The team still clearly has plenty to work on. And there will be more adversity to come for sure. But the Magic are showing growth.

Next. Cole Anthony still adjusting to bench role. dark

It did not take a historic 12 minutes to show that. But it sure did make it clear what this team is capable of.