As the injury bug bites again the Orlando Magic got their 6th win of the season.
Orlando beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night by a scoreline of 105-94. But it came at a huge cost!
THE INJURY BUG BITES AGAIN!
Starting point guard Markelle Fultz suffered a season ending tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee with 7:35 remaining in the first Quarter. The Magic rallied from an early deficit however to claim the Win and improve to 6-2 for the season.
Orlando continues to have injury problems. Fultz joins Michael Carter-Williams (bone bruise and sprained ligament in foot) on the sidelines.
This is in addition to guard Evan Fournier (back spasms), Al Farouq Aminu (knee), Chuma Okeke (knee) and Jonathan Isaac (knee).
The one good piece of positive news on the injury front is that James Ennis III returned tot he lineup on Wednesday night coming off the bench.
After the Magic raced out to a quick 10-0 start in the previous encounter on Monday, it was the Cavaliers who started hot on Wednesday night. They raced to an 11-3 lead on an Andre Drummond tip.
The Magic were then dealt the blow of the cruel injury to Fultz. The first period wasn’t a pretty sight with the Magic shooting an ice cold 31% compared to the Cavaliers shooting 38%. The Cavaliers also controlled the glass by out rebounding their hosts 18-9 and deservedly led after the first 23-15.
The Magic responded in the second frame, getting strong contributions from Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross who both notched 11 points a piece as part of a 36 point Magic second quarter. Ross hitting all of his three point attempts.
The Magic’s defensive intensity stepped up whilst forcing the likes of Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman into difficult shots, and the Magic new Point Guard rotation of Cole Anthony and Jordan Bone looking to push the pace.
This was the response we were hoping to see of the shell shocked Magic after a disappointing start to the game both in terms of execution and the injury to former Number 1 overall pick Fultz.
Magic led by six at the half 51-45.
The Magic started the third like they did the second, hitting shots, moving the ball and getting contributions from starters and the bench alike. Dwayne Bacon scoring 8 points with Aaron Gordon and Terrence Ross notching 7 points apiece.
The lead grew to 17 points on a James Ennis III layup at the 3:07 mark of the quarter. The Cavaliers responded with 4 quick points of their own before back to back three pointers from Terrence Ross and Jordan Bone put the Magic up 83-64
Orlando’s weren’t threatened by the Cavaliers in the final 12 minutes. Coach Clifford was able to give Karim Mané and Mo Bamba some mop up minutes, valuable to improve their conditioning. Given how thin the Magic are they may be called upon in the coming weeks as contributors. Karim Mané was able to score his first NBA points on two free throws in the fourth. Mo Bamba registered one rebound whilst missing two field goals in his four minutes played. The Magic saw the game out 105-94.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Dwayne Bacon! If the Magic are to be competing this season we will need to see more performances like this from Dwayne Bacon.
This is why the Magic brought Bacon in from Charlotte in the off-season to fill out the wing positions and add depth. Bacon was a key contributor scoring 19 points on 8 of 14 shooting including 2 of 5 from downtown. Bacon did not force anything and took good shots he was given in the flow of the offense.
The Magic travel to Texas for a back to back. Starting Friday against James Harden and the Houston Rockets is a tough night. Orlando are then facing the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.