In three of their four preseason games, the Orlando Magic had the ball with a chance to win in the final seconds. They came up empty their first two tries. That wasn’t the case Wednesday in their preseason finale at Amway Center, as Jeff Dowtin, a member of the Lakeland Magic’s 2021 championship squad at Disney last spring, buried a go-ahead fadeaway jumper with two tenths of a second left to lift Orlando to a thrilling 103-102 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Very few rookies finished last season on a higher note than R.J. Hampton, who was named May’s Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month after averaging 16.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists over those final eight games. Two inches taller since then – growing from 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-6 over the summer – his length, speed, and skillset has many excited about his long-term potential. On Wednesday, in the Magic’s preseason finale, the 21-year-old recorded 20 points, tied for the most points a Magic player scored in the four exhibition games, to go along with eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.
The fadeaway with 0.2 seconds left wasn’t Dowtin’s only big shot of the night. With two minutes and change left, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard followed up not one but two misses with a layup that gave Orlando a one-point advantage. That was the first of four straight buckets made by both teams combined. The Magic forced Garrison Mathews into a contested corner 3-point attempt on the possession before Dowtin’s game winner.
Out for Orlando were Jalen Suggs (illness, non-COVID), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle) and Chuma Okeke (right hip). Unable to play for Boston because of health and safety protocols were Jaylen Brown and Al Horford. Out for the purpose of resting were Jayson Tatum, Josh Richardson, Marcus Smart and Dennis Schroder.
In the News
On Tuesday, the Magic signed Devin Cannady, the 2021 G League Finals MVP after helping the Lakeland Magic capture the franchise’s first ever championship. He signed with Orlando shortly after, appearing in eight games. In the last of them, he suffered an open fracture of his right ankle. The 6-foot-1 guard out of Princeton will likely be rejoining the Magic’s G League team. Lakeland hosts the Texas Legends at the RP Funding Center on Friday, Nov. 5 in their first game of the season.
Which Eastern Conference tier are the Celtics in? Is it the one with the Bucks, Nets and Heat at the top? Or are they a notch or two below? Until the Ben Simmons situation gets figured out, we don’t know where the Sixers belong. The Hawks after their conference finals run last year could make another big jump. Personnel wise, Boston should have enough to at least be in the conversation for an NBA championship. But are Smart and Schroder good enough playmakers and shooters? Could the lack of floor spacing with Robert Williams at center hinder them? Will any of their other young players such as Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford and Payton Pritchard make a major impact?
Quote of the Night
“It was surreal. I’m still drenched right now. They threw ice water on me and a bunch of water on me. But, it just goes to show the great group of guys we have. The family atmosphere that we have. That’s the type of locker room that you want to be part of. Wins or losses, (this) team we are always together, always rooting for one another and we are always going to have each other’s backs. That’s a great group of guys to be a part of.” – Dowtin on team’s celebration afterwards
The Magic tip off their regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 20 in San Antonio against the Spurs at 8:30 p.m. ET. Familiar with one another having played in the preseason just a few days ago at Amway Center, the Magic and Spurs share similar characteristics. Both squads are young, athletic, and versatile. For San Antonio, key players to watch are Devin Vassell and Josh Primo, their lottery draft choices the last two years. Key for Orlando, though, will be slowing down the Spurs’ starting backcourt of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White, who combined for 25 points in the exhibition contest against Orlando.