Orlando Magic stick to the process to get the results

The Orlando Magic wanted to keep the faith and continue believing in the process that got them 42 wins already despite three straight losses. They did little different to hammer the Memphis Grizzlies.

Wendell Carter and the Orlando Magic played well but dropped three critical games on their home floor. To dominate the Memphis Grizzlies they knew they needed to stick to the process first.
Wendell Carter and the Orlando Magic played well but dropped three critical games on their home floor. To dominate the Memphis Grizzlies they knew they needed to stick to the process first. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

38. Final. 88. 211. Magic Grizzlies Final 03.30.24. 118

The Orlando Magic had a bit of soul-searching to do after Friday's loss to the LA Clippers.

Paolo Banchero told the assembled media that he had simply to play better. But Moe Wagner came with a more nuanced message.

As he did during the team's win streak, Wagner said the team's approach cannot change whether they had won nine straight or lost three straight. They needed to approach the game the same way and have faith in what they were doing.

At 42-31 entering Saturday's game, the Magic should know that what they are doing is working. And three close losses that came down to execution errors or missed shots or made shots against good defense cannot change them.

Coach Jamahl Mosley had said throughout the season that the team needs to commit to its process and play with a sense of joy. The Magic have to be themselves to be successful. It is still all about the work.

Ultimately, the Magic do need the results more than anything else. No matter by how many points. It is that time of the year as the Playoffs approach.

Everyone needed to find their groove and their swagger back after three straight disheartening losses in the clutch. They needed to regain that confidence and joy that the team constantly tries to play with.

The postseason is hard and serious business. But this team is not going to go far if it is not playing as itself and succumbs to that seriousness. They needed a reminder of what they can do.

Yes, the Magic did find their swagger again, like when Banchero feathered a blind pass through the defense for an open three. The Magic's offense may not yet be reliable, but it is more than good enough when they can defend like this.

That is the heartbeat of this team and it was the heartbeat again in a 118-88 rout of the Memphis Grizzlies. The process of defense -- 88 points allowed, eight blocsk (four from Banchero), 19 turnovers for 25 points -- and passing (28 assists on 38 makes and 22-for-44 shooting from three) that defines this team was on full display in a dominant victory.

The big picture for the Magic starts with the small things. The difference between wins and losses in the Playoffs are about little plays and stretches -- small mistakes or victories and plays that add up in the end.

That little bit is enough to change everything.

"It just shows that we're resilient," Wendell Carter said after Saturday's win. "We try not to put too much focus on each game after the game is played. We kind of look at making sure that we play to our standard -- win, lose or draw. At the end of the day, we dropped three that were very winnable games. We used that as fuel going into this game tonight and I think it was a good opportunity just to get our swagger back. I think our swag has been kind of off."

The Magic used a 32-4 run in the first half and then a 21-2 run in the third quarter to put the game out of reach early, turning this into a laugher. But it never felt like the Magic broke their intensity or focus. Every moment, the magic were playing their brand, never relaxing or letting the Grizzlies climb back in.

Orlando led by as much as 43 points and never led by fewer than 23 points (that came early in the third quarter before the Magic's big run to put the game way out of reach).

The Magic held the Grizzlies to 36.0 percent shooting and 30.5 percent through three quarters, flirting with breaking the Magic's franchise record for the lowest field goal percentage allowed at 25.3 percent against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001 for much of the game until the Magic let off the gas pedal.

Orlando won the game with the patience and precision of a team that knows it is better and just wanted to hammer an opponent that cannot compete when the team is working at high intensity.

This was a win that felt very much like the Magic finding themselves again. They played with the same fire and intensity on defense especially that gave their offense a chance to find its footing.

The Magic indeed found their groove again.

"I think the last couple of games we played solid in those other games and obviously we couldn't finish them off down the stretch," Joe Ingles said after Saturday's win. "We were still playing well. We're happy to make some shots and get the stops that we needed tonight."

The opponent on Saturday night was not at the same level the Magic have seen through the last week -- the same level as the teams that beat them on their home floor and stunted their momentum heading toward the Playoffs.

But that does not matter. The Magic had to pay the same attention to detail. They still had to do the job. They had to do it the same way that put them in a position to win, just with that little bit extra execution, focus, concentration or whatever buzzword they want to use.

The favored one after Saturday's win was with swagger.

Carter said the loss Friday gave the Magic some energy. They used it to galvanize them and they saw Saturday's game as an opportunity to right the ship and play to the team's standard.

That has been what the team has been doing even through the three-game losing streak and coming up short late in games. There is still a lot to learn. A dominant win over the Grizzlies is not going to change that.

It is hard to be about the process over the results this time of year. But the Magic got confirmation their process works.

"Just because it doesn't come out on the winning end of it doesn't mean you're not playing good basketball," Mosley said after Saturday's win. "You stick with that process and that's what these guys did tonight. Obviously, we come out with the win. But the best part is that we played the right way. We had been playing the right way in these other games as well, you just don't come out with the win. But you continue to learn in these close games that we had been playing. And that's a great lesson for a group that's continuing to grow, continuing to learn how to win in this league."

There will still be lessons. Everyone can understand the opponent they were facing. They can understand that they had an offensive burst in the second half and found things easy at points agianst this opponent.

But that is the trick too. The good teams take care of their business. They play the same way and do not let up even when everything is easy.

Next. Magic Playoff Rotations 03.29.24. Orlando Magic need to start preparing Playoff rotations. dark

And a team playing at playoff intensity can dominate a team like the Grizzlies. The process works. This time it got them the results.