Magic’s Shooting Woes Continue in Loss to Spurs

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

In the NBA nowadays, it’s hard to play well offensively if 3-pointers aren’t dropping. That’s been one of the Orlando Magic’s central issues the last few weeks, as Monday they had another rough shooting night making just five of their 20 3-point tries in a 120-97 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Key Stretch

The Spurs went from down 13-7 with a little over five minutes left in the first quarter to up 28-16 at the end of the frame. Lonnie Walker IV came off the bench and knocked down three straight shots, including two from 3-point range, to shift the momentum.

Top Performer

Since coming to Orlando in the Nikola Vucevic trade from Chicago, Wendell Carter Jr. has been able to showcase his assortment of skills. Among them are his good hands (he rarely drops passes), his defensive technique (has lateral quickness to defend in space), his footwork (able to create space down low) and his screening and rolling (makes hard cuts to the basket). With 15 points on Monday, the 6-foot-10, 270-pounder has now scored in double figures in six of his last eight games.

Rookie Watch

Signed earlier in the day to a 10-day contract, Robert Franks made his NBA regular season debut for the Magic. Known for his long-distance shooting, the 6-foot-9, 225-pounder drilled a 3-pointer in the second quarter. Franks, who played collegiately at Washington State, helped the Lakeland Magic win the G League championship at Disney last month. Meanwhile, R.J. Hampton, acquired in the trade that sent Aaron Gordon to Denver, matched his career high with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting. It was his fifth double-digit scoring performance since joining the Magic.

Key Stat

Over their last 10 games, the Magic are shooting an NBA-worst 29.2% from beyond the arc. All season, 3-point shooting has been a weakness of theirs. Through 54 games, they rank 27th in 3-point percentage.

Injury Report

Mo Bamba played three minutes before exiting with a left hip contusion. He didn’t return. Out of action from the start were Gary Harris (left adductor – injury maintenance) and Otto Porter Jr. (left foot pain). Markelle Fultz (torn ACL, left knee) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation) are both out for the season.

Quote of the Night

“It was precipitated by the Daunte Wright shooting. Guys on both teams spoke and again just a symbol of how badly that everybody feels that we need change in our country. Obviously, in the last ten days that’s not the only thing that’s happened. Peaceful protests, continue to attempt to bring awareness to the problems that we have in our country right now. The players got together and I thought it was a great idea.” – Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford on the two teams holding a moment of unity and silence prior to the game in light of the tragic events in the Minneapolis area.

Up Next

The Magic will head out on the road for two, starting with a visit to Chicago, where they will match up against Vucevic for the first time since he was traded to the Bulls at the deadline. The Bulls have struggled since that deal. Going into their contest against the Grizzlies on Monday, they had won just three of their first nine games with Vucevic in the lineup. On Sunday, they lost to the Timberwolves despite getting 30 points from Zach LaVine.

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