Playing against elite defensive teams early in the season could prove to be a good thing for the young and developing Orlando Magic. Battling it out with opponents that take pride in their defensive commitment should serve as inspiration for what they can achieve down the road. One of those teams is the Miami Heat, a perennial defensive power. They were Orlando’s opponent Monday, and despite the Magic having a few quality stretches, the Heat flexed their defensive muscle in their 107-90 victory.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Franz Wagner’s NBA career has started the way it has. He has a high basketball IQ, is very versatile, has great instincts, and he’s always moving, which makes it tough for opponents to stay connected to him. All four games this season, the 6-foot-10 forward has scored in double figures, including on Monday when he posted 15 points, fellow rookie Jalen Suggs’ scoring total as well.
While the Magic guarded the perimeter well, holding the Heat to 6-of-27 shooting from 3-point range, they struggled protecting the paint and slowing down Miami in transition. The Heat totaled 50 paint points and 21 fast break points. Entering Monday’s action, Orlando ranked 27th in opponent fast break points. Turnovers were a problem, too, as the Magic coughed it up 18 times.
Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), Markelle Fultz (left knee), E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain) and Chuma Okeke (right hip; bone bruise) were out for Orlando. Miami was without Victor Oladipo (right knee).
On Sunday in New York, Terrence Ross scored all 22 of his points in the fourth quarter. That was the most points ever scored by a Magic player in the fourth. The previous high was 21, Brooks Thompson’s fourth-quarter total in a 1996 game against Detroit. It was also tied for the fourth most points scored in any quarter in franchise history. Tracy McGrady owns the record. He scored 25 points in the second quarter during a 2003 game against Denver.
Many coming into the year circled the Bucks and Nets as the two teams most likely to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals this season. But the Heat could be the team to deny that from happening. The offseason additions of Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker were big, but probably even more critical to their success is the growth of Tyler Herro, who has gotten off to a terrific start. We know Jimmy Butler is going to bring it every night. Bam Adebayo continues to expand his offensive repertoire. Miami, if they are healthy and clicking, could be dangerous come playoff time.
Quote of the Night
“We’re a very young team and going up against very experienced teams like New York, like Miami, like San Antonio, I think that’s just fuel to the fire to get better throughout the season. I think coach Mose (Jamahl Mosley) has expressed that to us. Never get too high or too low and just on to the next game and keep learning.” – R.J. Hampton
The Magic return home to play the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Hornets will be coming to town on a sour note after losing in overtime to the Celtics on Monday. That was their first defeat of the season. LaMelo Ball registered 25 points, five rebounds and nine assists, while Miles Bridges tallied 25 points and 10 rebounds. Added in the offseason, Kelly Oubre Jr. collected 19 points and nine boards.