Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic shooting goes cold in loss to Philadelphia 76ers
The Orlando Magic were scratching and clawing to stay in the game. They were doing everything they could to stay in the game. With how they were shooting, it was going to take something otherworldly to stay in the hunt and to give themselves a chance.
Jalen Suggs was at the forefront of this gritty approach to the game.
On one possession, he dove on the floor to knock the ball away from James Harden. It squirted past both of them and toward open court in the backcourt. The Magic picked it up and got out in transition for an easy pull-up three.
That went to Gary Harris, the Magic’s best 3-point shooter. But he missed the shot. Joel Embiid grabbed the rebound. That is when Suggs snuck in and grabbed another steal before drawing a foul and hitting a layup.
That is the kind of effort the Magic would need. That is the kind of effort the team needed to see carryover from Monday’s big win against these same Philadelphia 76ers.
All the elements for the Magic to win were there. From the defensive effort exemplified by Suggs’ five steals to the second-chance points and work on the offensive glass to the points in the paint. All the elements except hitting a shot.
The Magic simply could not make those open threes — like the one Harris missed off the Suggs steal. And they could not cover for it with their defense long enough. The Magic were not able to get the ball moving effectively and could not get a shot to go down when they could.
That is what enabled the 76ers to finally pull away and score a 105-94 win. Orlando just could not hit shots.
The Orlando Magic could not find their shooting to build off their strong defensive effort and fell to the Philadelphia 76ers on the road.
The Magic finished the game shooting just 37.9 percent from the floor and 6 for 38 (15.8 percent) from beyond the arc. That canceled out a lot of the good Orlando did — getting to the line for 29 free throws attempts (making 22), winning the paint 46-38 and recording 18 second-chance points.
The Magic held a strong 76ers offense to 43.6-percent shooting. Philadelphia hit 14 3-pointers though including five in the fourth quarter.
In some ways, the Magic ran out of time, giving up those shots at the most inopportune time as their defense just could not carry the burden any further.
This is a make-or-miss league, and the Magic missed a lot in this one.
Markelle Fultz – B+
Markelle Fultz is probably glad to have this one behind him. The long-awaited return to Philadelphia could not have gone better for Fultz. He did not hit a 3-pointer — there was a hush of anticipation when he lined up for one in the third quarter — but he showed that he is doing just fine since his trade to Orlando.
Fultz is actually doing more than fine. He was a big engine and driver for this team in both games, able to get downhill and into the paint to loosen up Orlando’s offense some. When the Magic needed a shot or got a stop, Fultz was often the one driving the ball directly into the paint to make something happen.
Fultz led the Magic with 18 points, shooting 7 for 11 from the floor. To tell you what kind of night this was, Fultz was the only player who shot better than 50 percent on the entire Magic roster. No one else could hit a shot.
So Fultz being able to get downhill to the basket was a big boost to the offense and one of the more consistent places the team turned to all night.
Jalen Suggs – A
Jalen Suggs is carving his role in the league. He is quickly becoming someone the Orlando Magic know exactly what they will get from him and know that when he is in the game, good things are going to happen. More importantly, Suggs just plays with consistent and constant energy. He just cannot stop and good things will happen.
Suggs finished with 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting. That is a good offensive game for him. But his value is not on that end. His value is on defense. He just gets after everyone on the defensive end and makes their life miserable with his ability to get deflections and disrupt things.
Suggs finished with five steals in the game as a symbol of his activity. And that probably does not even get into the deflections — or near deflections — he got that just took the Sixers out of their offense. Philadelphia had just a 98.3 offensive rating with Suggs on the floor.
His energy on that end is becoming completely undeniable. And as Brian Hill put it on the Bally Sports Florida broadcast after the game, for now, all the Magic need from him is that defensive energy. The offensive development will come with more reps and an offseason to work.
Paolo Banchero – B
Paolo Banchero is starting to put his focus on the right things and contributing elsewhere besides his scoring. You can typically tell how locked in Banchero is by how well he is rebounding and the other parts of his game. Those other parts of his game are going to be critical for him.
But he also kind of needs to score too.
The good was that Banchero grabbed nine rebounds and was assertive and physical chasing after rebounds. He was doing a lot of these little things that are not associated with his play so far in his rookie year.
Banchero though scored only 13 points on 5-for-18 shooting. He did get to the line for six free throws (making three). But he was certainly settling a bit too much on the perimeter. He was not able to get downhill as much where he was most effective — he was 3 for 7 at the rim.
Franz Wagner – C
Like Paolo Banchero, the Orlando Magic needed an aggressive and effective Franz Wagner. It is one thing for Banchero to have a poor scoring game but then Wagner needs to have a good game. For both players to shoot this poorly makes it very hard for this Magic team.
Wagner finished with 13 points on 6-for-15 shooting, but he made just one of his seven 3-point attempts and only one of his three free throws. Those are just points you expect to get from Wagner. And it is not like Wagner was settling for threes. He missed plenty of open looks the Magic rely on.
Wagner could still get downhill and to the basket. But it certainly was not with the same force that the Magic need. Orlando needs to do a better job making it easier for both of their young stars to get going and work to get them easier shots.
The ball was just not moving effectively and that hurt both Wagner and Banchero in this game.
The Orlando Magic’s road trip continues Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.