Last night saw Orlando lose on the road in Denver by 111-121 to close the road trip West. A poor start saw the Magic fight hard to recover. Despite closing the gap often realistically the team had too much to do against the reigning MVP and a strong Nuggets team.
Trailing by as many as 22 points Orlando repeatedly fought back. As Denver responded time and again, so Orlando swung back. A Bryn Forbes score at the end of the third quarter and a DeMarcus Counsins jumper to open the fourth saw Denver extend their lead to 17. Ultimately, it proved to be a pivotal few seconds of the game. What followed was an exciting fourth quarter, that required Denver to play their core unit to the end as Orlando got back to as close as 8 points. However, truth be told the Magic could have gotten closer had they taken opportunities that were available.
Denver had good scoring across their squad, with 6 players making double-digit scores. Inevitably the Nuggets were led by the league MVP Nikola Jokic. A double-double of 26 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists and a steal proved crucial to Denver. He could have had more were it not for the Herculean efforts of WCJ.
An encouraging statistic was that Orlando set a team season high in steals with 16. Also challenging on the offensive board much better than of late helped the Magic get 18 second chance points and 50 points in the paint.
Magic Top Performers
Wendell Carter Jr was a force to be reckoned with playing against Nikola Jokic. WCJ seems to relish the challenge of going against the NBA’s best big men. Wendell finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds. The Magic put out a great statistic on how WCJ is playing. With five 20-10 games (points and rebounds) this year Wendell has more than he had in his first three NBA seasons combined. He has 24 double-doubles on the season so far.
Franz Wagner went against Aaron Gordon on both ends of the court for much of the night. As Magic fans we know AG is an elite defender and a capable weapon on offence. Franz was able to get it done on both ends. His 26 points led the team. Aside from being the scorer leading the comebacks Franz added 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Franz has started all 59 of his rookie season NBA games, scoring double figures in 49 of them and 20 or more points on 14 occasions.
Jalen Suggs played at a blistering pace all night. He set out to push the Denver defence and not allow it to get set after a made basket. He contributed 16 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and a block. What isnt shown is the number of times he deflected passes, or put his body into an attacking player.
Gary Harris returning to his former team for the first time 15 points, 6 assists, 4 steals and 3 rebounds as he continued strong contributions for the team.
No other Magic player had double digit scoring.
Chuma Okeke put in an all round performance. He scored 9 points and dished out 4 assists to go with a strong defensive effort, that produced 4 steals and a block.
The Magic Season
Orlando now has a record of 13 wins and 46 losses. The Magic remain 14th in the Eastern Conference. Detroit hold the worst record in the NBA (12-45), having played two games less than the Magic. In the last 10 games played the Magic have won 4, having lost the last 3 straight. The home record stands at 5 wins of 25 games played, whilst on the road it is 8 wins in 34 played. In points per game the Magic are scoring 103.2 whilst conceding 111.6. The efficiency rating for Orlando remains 28th on offence and 22nd defensively.
The Magic now have 23 games remaining this season, of which 16 are at home.
Moving On After Orlando Lose On The Road In Denver
Up next is the final game for Orlando before the All-Star Weekend. It sees a return to the Amway Center as the Magic take on the Division and Conference rival Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. The tip time for the UK is midnight Thursday February 17th.
The teams have already met three times this season, with Orlando trailing 1-2. Atlanta won the first two matchups of the season, including in the Amway Center by 111-99.
Last season’s beaten Eastern Conference finalist remain struggling this time around. The Atlanta Hawks are 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 26-30 record. Of the last 10 games played the Hawks have won 5, losing their last 2 games straight. Their home record is a winning one at 16 of 29 played, however it is the road where they have struggled, winning 10 of 27 played. Atlanta score and concede an average of 111.7 points per game, putting them 2nd offensively and 28th on defence.
Atlanta will be on the second night of a back-to-back as they play a home game to Cleveland tonight (Feb 15th).
The Hawks last played on Sunday, losing 95-105 in Boston to the Celtics. Trae Young led the Hawks with a double-double of 30 points and 10 assists. Bogdan Bogdanovic came from the bench for 26 points. Clint Capella pulled down 17 rebounds.
Last Starting Line-up – Trae Young (PG), Kevin Huerter (SG), De’Andre Hunter (SF), Danilo Gallinari (PF), Clint Capella (C)
Bench Unit – Bogdan Bogdanovic, Lou Williams, Onyeka Okongwu, Delon Wright, Sharife Cooper, Kevin Knox II (DNP), Jalen Johnson (DNP), Skylar Mays (DNP)
John Collins, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Gorgui Dieng were absent through injury.
If you want to read Josh Cohen’s game review as Orlando lose on the road in Denver, it is available on the Orlando Magic website.