Most games in the NBA are decided by how well the starters play. Occasionally, though, the reserves are the ones who make an even bigger difference, which is precisely what Sunday’s Orlando Magic versus Chicago Bulls game boiled down to, as Orlando’s reserves outscored Chicago’s by 41 in the Magic’s 114-95 victory at Amway Center.
Moe Wagner scored 23 points, his second 20-plus-point performance this season, on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. Chuma Okeke and Ignas Brazdeikis, one of Orlando’s two-way contract players, each finished with 11 points. Former Bull Wendell Carter Jr. led the starters with 19 points, while Franz Wagner filled up the stat sheet with 18 points, four rebounds and five assists.
After the Bulls pulled within seven with just over four minutes left in the third quarter after trailing by as many as 20, the Magic responded with eight unanswered points. Brazdeikis and Okeke made back-to-back 3-pointers and Cole Anthony slammed home a dunk off a Chicago turnover during that stretch.
Quote of the Night
“I think it’s very easy to play with Moe, and I think that’s why just a lot of times that’s what (shows) on the court. He’s really good at reading defenses, even as a big guy. He moves very well without the ball. I think we both grew up playing that way, and that shows on the court and it kind of comes out.” Franz Wagner on the chemistry he has with his older brother Moe
Gary Harris (back), Terrence Ross (right knee), R.J. Hampton (left knee), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), and E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain) were out for Orlando. Zach LaVine (knee), Lonzo Ball (knee), Derrick Jones Jr. (knee), Alex Caruso (wrist), Javonte Green (groin), and Patrick Williams (wrist) were unavailable for Chicago.
This Day in History
One of the Magic’s wilder games in franchise history came on Jan. 23, 2001 against the Toronto Raptors. Orlando’s Tracy McGrady and Toronto’s Vince Carter each made clutch shots in the final moments of regulation, and then Pat Garrity knocked down big shots in each of the overtime sessions to help the Magic outlast the Raptors. Mike Miller led the Magic with 24 points.
The Bulls are a strange offensive team in that they rank No. 1 in 3-point percentage but take the fewest number of 3-pointers in the league. They also rank first in field goal percentage on isolation shot attempts, which isn’t a much of a surprise considering LaVine and DeMar DeRozan are two of the best isolation scorers of this generation. Nobody doubts the potency of Chicago’s starting lineup (when at full strength), but do they have enough depth and are they good enough defensively to truly be title contenders?
The Magic’s five-game homestand continues Wednesday when they welcome the L.A. Clippers to town. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. In their last meeting on Dec. 11, Reggie Jackson scored 25 points and made a game-winning jumper with two seconds left. Anthony, who led the Magic with 23 points, had tied the game with a 3-pointer on Orlando’s prior possession. Ross recorded 22 points and Wagner had 20.