Cole Anthony Scores 37 in Magic’s Season Finale
Cole Anthony will enter the offseason with some extra confidence after racking up a career-best 37 points in the Orlando Magic’s 2020-21 season finale. He wasn’t the only rookie in the game to have a big night, however. Tyrese Maxey, a fellow 2020 first round draft pick, posted 30 points for the Philadelphia 76ers, who defeated the Magic 128-117 on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Anthony became the first Magic rookie to score 30-plus points since Victor Oladipo tallied 30 on Feb. 21, 2014 against the New York Knicks and it was the fifth highest scoring performance by a rookie in team history. With four 20-plus-point games, 19 double-digit scoring games in Orlando’s last 22 contests and two game-winning 3-point buzzer beaters, Anthony had a solid rookie campaign. His offensive creativity, aggressiveness, and confidence in pressure-packed moments were on display all year. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder has a bright future, and it will be key for him this summer to continue refining his skills and adding more to his repertoire.
Dwayne Bacon was one of 11 players this season to step up on the floor in all 72 games. It was apparent right out of the gate this season that he is comfortable playing for Steve Clifford, his coach also during his rookie season in Charlotte. The 6-foot-6, 221-pounder scored nine points in the season finale. He had eight 20-plus-point performances throughout the year, including on May 7 when he recorded a career-high 28 points against his former team.
Philly seized momentum in the closing seconds of the third quarter when veteran Anthony Tolliver, who coming into the night had made just one shot all season, drilled a 3-pointer and rookie Isaiah Joe knocked down a triple of his own to extend the Sixers’ lead to nine.
Wendell Carter Jr. (left eye abrasion), R.J. Hampton (sprained right ankle), Michael Carter-Williams (sprained left ankle), James Ennis III (sore right calf), Markelle Fultz (torn ACL, left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation), Chuma Okeke (sprained left ankle), Otto Porter Jr. (left foot pain), and Terrence Ross (back spasms) were out for the Magic. All of the Sixers’ regular starters – Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Tobias Harris and Danny Green – sat out.
The Sixers, who had locked up the top seed in the East after Friday’s win, don’t know yet who exactly they will be playing in the first round of the playoffs. The loser of Wizards-Celtics in the 7 vs. 8 play-in tournament game will play the winner of Hornets-Pacers, which is the 9 vs. 10 game, to determine Philly’s opponent in a best-of-seven opening round series. It’s the first time in 20 years the Sixers are a No. 1 seed in the postseason.
Quote of the Night
“I had some ups. I had some downs. But I think overall, it was a pretty solid year. I learned a lot. I’m a totally different player than I was at the beginning of the season…This offseason I will really get to work. I’m ready to grind. Ready to get better. I will take a little vacation, but after that – I’ll give myself a good two weeks – after that I’ll be in the gym. I don’t know how long summer is, but I’ll be in the gym every day.” – Anthony
With the Magic’s season now complete, some key events to look forward to include the NBA Draft Combine from June 21-27, the NBA Draft Lottery, which will take place on June 22, and the NBA Draft, set for July 29. Depending on what happens with the Chicago Bulls’ pick, which is protected one through four, Orlando could end up with two top 10 draft picks this year.