For the Orlando Magic, it’s another season of trying to look at the positives that come out of each game rather than the final score.
As tired as Magic fans are of that philosophy, it’s the unfortunate reality at this stage of the rebuild. So, let’s focus more on the fact that Mo Bamba looked damn good in the Magic’s 123-97 season-opening loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Bamba was one of multiple surprises in the Magic’s starting unit for the first game. He got the start alongside Wendell Carter Jr., Cole Anthony initially got the start over Jalen Suggs, Suggs eventually replaced late scratch Gary Harris due to a hamstring issue, and fellow rookie Franz Wagner also got the start.
But it was Bamba who stole the show right from the jump, scoring the Magic’s first five points of the season on a drive to the basket and a three, seemingly challenged each shot at the defensive end, and even found a cutting Franz Wagner with a pretty pass that led to the rookie’s first career points.
Shortly after, Suggs, who began the game playing off the ball as Anthony handled the point, registered the first points of his career by draining a floater in transition...
It was a balanced quarter for the Magic, which made its first six shots, as Bamba and Cole Anthony had five points each and Wagner, Carter and Suggs each had four. Orlando shot 45.5 percent in the first, going 4 of 10 from three and assisting on seven of 10 made field goals.
A three by Moe Wagner and pair of free throws by Suggs put the Magic up 25-21. But the Magic went cold and the turnovers piled up as the Spurs closed the quarter on an 11-3 run to take a 32-28 lead going into the second.
The Magic shot just 35 percent in the second quarter, and gave extra possessions to San Antonio by allowing nine offensive rebounds and committing eight turnovers, as the Spurs’ lead grew to 61-49 at the half.
The lead would grow to as many as 28 in the second half, as the Jamahl Mosley era started with a lopsided affair. The Spurs scored 21 points off of 16 Orlando turnovers and also had 26 fast break points. The Spurs had seven players in double figures, led by Devin Vassell, who had 19 off the bench.
Bamba finished with 18 points, shooting 6-for-8 from the field and 3 of 4 from three. He added four rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots in 27 minutes.
Bamba. Bamba! BAMBA!— Beyond the RK (@beyondtheRK) October 21, 2021
THESE GAMES COUNT pic.twitter.com/iR2ksZoaMk
Carter - who for some reason played under 19 minutes, fewer than Ignas Brazdeikis - had 13 points and eight rebounds. The Magic had six players finish in double figures.
That included both rookies, though Suggs struggled with his shot in his NBA debut. He finished with 10 points on just 3-for-14 shooting, including 1 of 6 from deep. Franz Wagner had 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting - including one pretty drive where he beat his defender off the dribble and drove the lane for the one-handed dunk - plus four rebounds, two blocked shots and some strong defensive rotations.
So, through one game of the Orlando youth movement, the positive takeaways were the performances of Mo and Franz.
We’ll see if there is a little more positivity to go around in the home opener on Friday when the Magic host the Knicks.