Summer league is a chance for teams to get one more look at some fringe players before they make some key free agency decisions, but for fans it’s usually an opportunity to get their first look at the new players suiting up for their teams. For Orlando Magic faithful, those players were Jonathan Isaac and Wesley Iwundu, who took part in the Magic’s first Orlando Summer League game versus the Indiana Pacers. Despite a big second-half comeback effort to tie the game in the fourth quarter, the Magic ultimately fell 85-74.
Isaac looked a little jittery in his debut, draining a top-of-the-arc 3-pointer but struggling to find his shot elsewhere. He particularly struggled around the rim and on attempted tip-ins, showing some visible frustration that he couldn’t get those shots to go down in the fourth. In general, though, he improved as the game went on and he got more comfortable. He did show off his defensive potential at times, blocking two shots, but also bit on some pump fakes that led to open shots elsewhere. Isaac finished with 7 points on 2-10 shooting, 8 rebounds (including 6 offensive boards), and 2 blocks.
After the game, Isaac talked about the increased physicality and speed of the NBA game, and acknowledged his nervous energy in the wake of signing his contract just minutes before the game. “That anxiousness...once I hit my first shot, it kind of left me all at once and I couldn’t breathe.” He asked out of the game at that point, but returned later and played significant stretched in other parts of the game.
Iwundu also had an up-and-down debut, at times commanding the floor with some key shot making, but at others struggling to find a rhythm. Like Isaac, though, he prides himself on making an impact in multiple ways, and said his favorite sequence of the game was when he got a deflection that led to a fast break and some free throws.
Returning Magic players included Marcus Georges-Hunt, Patricio Garino, and Stephen Zimmerman. Zimmerman probably had the roughest game among them, making mistakes on both ends of the court, especially defensively. He seemed outmatched inside, getting overpowered around the rim trying to defend or score. At the same time, he did flash some of the skills that show how he could still make it in the NBA, getting a big block as well as picking off a couple timely passes.
MGH was probably the most aggressive Magic player with the ball in his hands, getting to the line 5 times (most of any Magic player). Garino had a quieter day, efficiently making 2-3 from the field but otherwise staying fairly anonymous.
The first half of the game played out like a lot of Magic games from the past season: can’t make any shots, and can’t stop the other team. The halftime shooting deficit was staggering, over 50% for the Pacers and less than 30% for the Magic. The second quarter in particular was rough, thanks to the nervousness that seemed to permeate the Magic’s summer league squad.
The second half was a complete turnaround, right until the end. After trailing by 20 at one point, the Magic rallied throughout the third and fourth quarters thanks to stellar pace and play on both ends of the court. One other notable player throughout the game was Jalen Jones, whose 2-11 shooting left much to be desired, but whose vocal energy was an important part of the comeback, especially on defense.
Orlando would eventually tie the game at 69, but things stagnated from there, and the Pacers regained control of the game to close it out in the final minutes.