An undermanned Magic were outgunned in Phoenix, who were led by Devin Booker. The 90-106 loss to the Suns saw Orlando have shooting woes all night.
The Magic had only 8 fit players, the minimum to play an NBA game.
For Orlando a starting line-up of Gary Clark, Dwayne Bacon, Terrence Ross, Nikola Vucevic and Michael Carter-Williams took to the floor. That left just Mo Bamba, Chuma Okeke and Khem Birch to rotate in.
THE OPENING QUARTER
Orlando started the game cold missing their first 6 field goal attempts as Phoenix took an 0-8 lead. Nikola Vucevic opened the Magic account with 3 minutes 30 played. That shooting drought continued as Orlando missed their next 5 attempts.
Both teams were playing at a slow pace, Orlando through necessity and Phoenix by design.
Terrence Ross hit a pair of scores from deep but Devin Booker was already making an impact on the score. Mo Bamba checked in with 3 minutes of the quarter remaining and scored only Orlando’s 4th bucket of the game. Ross hit his third 3 pointer of the night and had 10 of Orlando’s 16 points at the close.
Orlando had only made 6 of 24 field goal attempts (25%), were 3 of 12 on three point attempts (25%). Phoenix had shot a field goal percentage of 59% seeing the Magic trail 16-28.
INTO THE SECOND QUARTER
Orlando continued to struggle on offence as the Suns toiled to build a lead. Chris Paul was pulling the Phoenix offensive strings, as he pushed the Sun’s pace. His play was getting his team mates plenty of open looks. Thankfully they were at times less than accurate with the opportunities given. Even so the lead had reached 21 points at 21-42 with 6 minutes of the quarter played.
The massively shorthanded Magic team continued to play with pride and effort. T-Ross hit a highlight dunk from a powerful drive and followed it up with a long jump shot for 2. At this point the Magic had put on a scoring run to cut the lead back to 31-46.
Vooch was drawing all of Phoenix’s defensive attention. It resulted in his having a slow scoring half and missing several open looks.
As the quarter closed there were signs of him finding a rhythm as he moved to 7 points scored on 2 of 10 field goals. At the half the score read 35-52 to the Suns.
THE THIRD QUARTER
The Magic saw Nikola Vucevic begin to get some offensive shots to fall as he moved to his 19th double-double of the season. Unsurprisingly it was Vooch and T-Ross who were doing the heavy lifting for the Magic scoring.
Dwayne Bacon was struggling to contribute on offence, but made free throws. As so often recently Gary Clark was completely anonymous on the stat line.
A pair of Jae Crowder three’s saw the lead burgeon to 25 points. At the quarter close the score was 60-84.
INTO THE FOURTH
Orlando continued to see effort, particularly from Michael Carter-Williams but in all honesty this was a game that should have been long lost.
Dwayne Bacon having struggled earlier moved his points tally to double figures.
Orlando’s spirit and effort was such that Coach Monty Williams was still playing Marvin Bagley, Jae Crowder, DeAndre Ayton, Chris Paul and Devin Booker late in the game. Orlando had gone on a 15-4 run before the Suns could stream the bleeding.
With 2 minutes to play Phoenix emptied the bench.
THE FINAL SCORE – 90-106
ON THE NIGHT AS AN UNDERMANNED MAGIC WERE OUTGUNNED
Firstly, it is hard to criticise a team with so few options.
It should be remembered that Phoenix came into the game 4th in the West, with the best regular season record since the NBA resumed in the Disney bubble and with a fully fit roster full of talent.
Orlando’s season record is now 10-18, remaining 12th in the East.
There was little if anything in the performance for Magic fans to get excited about. Again the effort and fight was there but not the options or opportunity to influence the game greatly.
Four Magic players made double figure scoring. On a difficult night for him offensively Nikola Vucevic had 14 points, 10 rebounds and 2 steals. Dwayne Bacon had 19, having struggled until the final quarter. Michael Carter-Williams hit 14 points, 2 rebounds and 4 assists. The scoring was led by Terrence Ross as he hit 23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and a steal.
One of the NBA’s elite defences took full advantage of that lack of depth Orlando were experiencing. Phoenix were able to concentrate their defence on Vooch and Ross. They allowed others to shoot, choosing to live with the result. This proved a good decision as the Magic registered only 6 made three point shots on 35 attempts.
Gary Clark failed to score in 28 minutes of play. Mo Bamba contributed only 2 points in 23 minutes, though he did take 11 rebounds and make 2 blocks. With only Michael Carter-Williams at the guard position Orlando had little in the way of ball movement, making only 13 assists.
Phoenix got contributions across the board, 12 of the 14 players used scored. Devin Booker led the team with 27 points and 6 assists. Chris Paul had 12 points and 9 assists. DeAndre Ayton had a double-double.
Orlando now move back to the Amway to face the 13-15 New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
A full game review by Josh Cohen on the Orlando Magic website can be read here.