It's official: your Orlando Magic is the seventh favorite in the Eastern Conference. They claimed him in the back of a hard-fought victory, overcoming the adversity of the late retirements of Nikola Vucevic and Jonathan Isaac, as well as another game of more than 40 points from the famous Magic badbadin, Kemba Walker. Let's see how this was developed.
It was a slow start to the game for the Magic, which was to be expected considering the missing faces in the lineup. It soon became clear that the plan was to channel the offensive through Aaron Gordon with Vooch absent, a strategy that offered only limited returns. AG was aggressive, but he converted only 1 of 3 shots at the same time he made a rotation. It also meant that things got stuck in other places, with a limited movement of the ball and many players who remain motionless. It seemed that the points were going to be very difficult to achieve.
The complexion of the game changed when, as he has done so many times this season, Terrence Ross registered. He scored 11 consecutive points to close the quarter for the Magic, betting on a 30-25 lead after 12 minutes of play. It was an instant attack for a team that desperately needed it, while also providing power with defensive deviations and offensive rebounds.
The T-Ross show continued in the second. He drilled another triple early, then reached the line for 3 more after committing a foul at the top of the perimeter. He even tracked an air ball Michael Carter-Williams, effectively converting it into an alley-oop. He finished half with 19. Elsewhere, the Magic began receiving contributions from DJ Augustin, who was able to effectively take advantage of the mismatches that arose, and Wes Iwundu, who drilled three open, added a couple of scores, and even chipped in 4 badists just in case.
However, after increasing the advantage to 13 with a shadow of more than 4 minutes to play in the fourth, the Magic saw Kemba Walker almost single-handedly eliminate his advantage. He began to get into the lane at will, either by skillfully finishing his own units or preparing for his teammates to throw themselves into the basket. Three deep in the last minute of the half gave him 22 at the main break, and the Magic had a 62-58 lead.
In large part, teams exchanged baskets in the first 4 minutes of the third quarter, and Gordon represented 7 of Orlando's first 8 points. He was finding shots to the rhythm of the offensive and through effort and opportunity, in contrast to his first contributions. Still, the team had not figured out how to stop Walker, who continued to dance in the lane with little resistance. A mid-range float from Charlotte's All-Star point guard forced a Magic timeout, her lead was reduced to 2 precariously.
Gordon and Fournier helped Orlando to stabilize while the quarter continued, both finished some difficult shots that created a bit of space on the scoreboard. Fournier had a nice one, while Gordon threw a monstrous response from a Fournier fault from the corner. When DJ Augustin started cooking, an absurd up and down the tray with the expired shot clock, followed by triple back to back, things started to look pretty healthy. Still, the defense was still a concern, as Charlotte's players were able to get in the lane and find the open shooters detecting, a potentially fatal combination.
When entering the final draw, it was 97-88 in favor of the Magic, a good cushion against a team whose postseason opportunity was fading due to other results. It took Kemba Walker three and a half minutes to reduce him to only 2, and it was beginning to look like he could simply be unstoppable.
Then it happened to Terrence Ross.
First he drilled a three. On the next possession, he put the ball on the ground and got an easy layup on an aggressive drive. He continued with another deep triple, before completing the outburst with an absurd final long distance that could probably have been an and-one. He took a close match and simply made sure of the result. It was a winning action of the game.
From this point, the Magic played intelligent basketball, marking the defensive intensity and making systematic plays of the patient. They moved the ball well, locating the misalignments and opening the players by cutting the hoop. A thunderous plunge of Khem Birch indicated that the end was near, and when Gordon simply beat his man on a backdown and a hammer, he basically made himself and dusted himself off. When it sounded the final whistle was 122-114 for the Magic, the owners confirmed a record of the winning season (42-40) and the seventh seed when the playoffs opened this weekend.
The three stars of Orlando
Hockey is a pretty good sport, so I thought it would steal one of its best touches for my own game badysis: the three stars. Here is who called my attention tonight.
First star: Terrence Ross – Who else? The human torch finished with 35 points and 6 rebounds, with 6 marks from deep. He saved the game for the Magic twice, and now has put himself in a collision race with his old team in Round One. A great game to close a great regular season.
Second star: Aaron Gordon – It was an unstable opening quarter, but in the end he was up to the circumstances. He was asked more to be offended with Vucevic sitting, and when he found his rhythm, he was the one who made the difference. He finished with 27, 7 and 2 in 11-18 shots.
Third star: DJ Augustin – Man, this boy. He has been fired or overlooked so many times throughout his career, that being such a valuable contributor to a playoff-run team feels somewhat surreal. He continued the stellar game of his season tonight, finishing with 18 points and a much needed rapture in the third quarter that kept the Magic fair when they threatened to fail.
It has been a hellish season. The best part is that it is not over yet. Bring the dinosaurs.
Orlando Magic Task List:
Playoff bunk ✔️
Title of the division ✔️
Winning record ✔️
Beat the Toronto Raptors
Give Terrence Ross a lifetime contract.
– Orlando Pinstriped Post (@OPPMagicBlog) April 11, 2019