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NBA Summer League: Magic fall flat in the anticipated Bamba/Ayton Bowl

The billing didn’t live up to the hype as the Magic suffered their first loss of summer league

2018 NBA Summer League - Las Vegas - Orlando Magic v Phoenix Suns Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Orlando Magic headed into the most anticipated match-up of the day at NBA Summer League, pitting Mo Bamba against the number overall pick, Deandre Ayton.

The billing didn’t live up to its hype for Orlando as the Magic fell to the Suns, 71-53.

Ayton had a game-high 17 points and 13 rebounds as unbeaten Phoenix (3-0) handed the Magic (2-1) their first loss of summer league. Bamba finished with five points, four rebounds and five blocks in 22 minutes.

It was the first time an Ayton-led team defeated a Bamba-led team.

Jonathan Isaac led the Magic with 10 points but shot just 2 of 9 from the field.

The Magic struggled offensively from the tip, managing but 24 first half points on 8 of 26 shooting, including 2 of 10 from three-point range.

The Magic were short handed due to the losses of starting point guard Isaiah Briscoe (shin contusion) midway through the first, as well as big men Byron Mullens and Khem Birch.

However, the carnage went far beyond the absence of their primary floor commander.

John Hammond has recruited a group rich in size, athleticism and length. The defensive instincts of Bamba, Jonathan Isaac, Melvin Frazier, and Wes Iwundu are often on full display in individual on-ball defense. However, when it comes to team basketball, simple rotations, movement, the team as a whole doesn’t fit the bill.

A ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich montage is just what these kids need. Ball handling drills, movement off and on the ball, as well as recognition drills when attacking the paint. When the defender rotates into the paint, you have three primary choices:

1) Drive through contact

2) Dish

3) Settle for pull up

Too often the Magic attempt to drive through contact, and too often it results in turnovers.

And when the Magic do take the shot afforded to them by the defense, it often falls harmlessly off the rim, and into the outstretched hands of Ayton.

With members of the Magic regular season roster in attendance, the players got tight. The Magic shot 17 of 55 overall from the field and 3-for-20 from three point range, to go along with a whopping 20 turnovers.

But the most frustrating part of all wasn’t the offensive negligence. It lied within the missed opportunities by an opportunistic defense that created 12 steals, and 10 blocks.

Too often the Magic created a turnover, raced out into transition, only to fumble away any opportunity of bridging the gap with the Phoenix Suns.

On one particular possession, Troy Caupain attacked the rim in transition, missed, collected his rebound, and kicked to Iwundu. Iwundu missed a wide open Rodas on the perimeter, dribbled around himself for 10 seconds, before running under the rim, and kicking to Jonathan Isaac at the three point line with but two seconds on the shot clock.

Failed possession.

Frazier and Iwundu committed several of the head scratching maneuvers on offense, committing eight turnovers between the two of them. Caupain contributing four of his own as well.

Could fatigue have been a factor? After all, the Magic finished their third game in the past four nights. It’s possible, but many of the questions we had about this team were the same questions from last night, and from Friday night, and the regular season.

Next up, the Magic await their tournament seeding. Round one of the round robin will continue on Wednesday and Thursday. At 2-1, the Magic will likely find themselves matched up on Wednesday.

For comments from Summer League Coach Pat Delany, Jonathan Isaac and more, check out our podcast below!