For the first time since February of 2021, the Orlando Magic have won three-straight games. Playing at the Amway Center for the second of a home back-to-back over the weekend, the Magic defeated the Toronto Raptors, 111-99.
“I loved our grit,” Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said after the game. “Our ability to just know that it was going to be a knock-down drag-out (fight), and we stayed the course. Shots may not have been falling early, but our ability to stay the course and stay in the fight (was the difference).”
Second-year forward Franz Wagner led the way for Orlando with 23 points (6-14 FGA’s, 3-5 3PTA’s, 8-10 FTA’s), 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. Rookie forward Paolo Banchero added 20 points (6-14 FGA’s, 2-5 3PTA’s, 6-8 FTA’s), 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. Sunday marked the sixteenth-time Banchero has scored at least 20 points in 21 career games.
Orlando shot 45.2 percent from beyond the arc against Toronto (14-31 3PTA’s), with six different players making at least two three-point field goals in the contest.
Both teams began the Sunday early evening matchup doing a little bit of sleep-walking. The Magic and Raptors combined to miss 14 of the first 20 shots attempted in the game. To compound matters, Orlando turned the ball over four times within the first five minutes of the contest, which led to seven early points for Toronto.
Even though the Magic shot an ugly 31.6 percent from the field (6-19 FGA’s, 0-5 3PTA’s) in the first quarter, they were able to stay connected with the Raptors due to their ability to stay aggressive and get to the free throw line - especially Banchero.
A critical moment in the game played out over a two-minute stretch in the second quarter when Pascal Siakam picked up his third and fourth fouls. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse unsuccessfully challenged a foul called on his All-Star forward in transition. Rather than taking Siakam out after his third, Nurse opted to keep Siakam on the floor, and the seventh-year big man picked up his fourth foul a few Orlando offensive possessions later.
With Siakam on the sidelines, the Magic immediately went on a 13-2 run, opening up a double-digit lead.
Reserve center Mo Bamba was the offensive star of the first half for the Magic, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the second quarter - including three in-rhythm catch-and-shoot three-point field goals. Orlando’s backup center added nine rebounds and two blocked shots in 23 minutes against Toronto Sunday.
Both teams were desperate to find a little more offensive flow in the second half, but unfortunately the referees had other plans. In what turned out to be an incredibly disjointed and interrupted period, the officials were arguably the busiest and most impactful participants of the third quarter.
All in all, fifteen personal fouls were charged to players in the third quarter (Orlando - 9, Toronto - 6), including one flagrant-one call that went against Markelle Fultz. The two teams combined to shoot 25 free throw attempts in the twelve minute stretch coming out of the half.
“Yeah man, it definitely was. There definitely was a whistle (probably) every other play,” Magic guard Cole Anthony said after the game when asked about all the stoppage of play in the third quarter Sunday. “It’s like that sometimes, not every win can be pretty. It can’t all be sexy, it was a junkyard dog-fight and we just happened to come out on top of this one.”
A late third quarter three-point field goal from Terrence Ross gave Orlando a ten point lead heading into the final period, but that lead shrunk to seven before the fourth quarter ever began as the officials went back and awarded Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet an earlier made three-point field goal that had previously been deemed to come after the shot-clock expired.
Wagner, who had a relatively quiet first half, knocked-down three consecutive deep three-point field goals early in the fourth quarter to help the Magic push their lead to sixteen points.
FRANZ BOOGIE— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) December 12, 2022
paolo at the end pic.twitter.com/6Ns0vVnawk
Banchero put the game away down the stretch for the Magic, burying two clutch two-point jumpers in the last two minutes of the game to keep the Raptors from mounting any kind of comeback.
Anthony served as an unsung hero Sunday for the Magic as Fultz struggled throughout the game (five personal fouls, five turnovers for Fultz).
Orlando’s backup point guard finished with 14 points, 6 assists (one turnover), and 6 rebounds in 29 minutes. The third-year guard was the driving force behind Orlando outscoring Toronto’s bench 49-23.
“I’m just thinking that I deserve to be out there (man),” Anthony said after the game when asked about his approach coming off the bench and how he stays ready. “I put in a lot of work. But you know, at the time right now, that’s not my role (starting). So I’m going to embrace whatever I’m doing and just bring 110 percent whenever I step on that floor.”
Gary Trent Jr. got the start in place of an injured OG Anunoby and led Toronto with 24 points. VanVleet added 20 points (10-12 FTA’s), 7 assists, and 4 steals.
“Growth, I really do (think that),” Mosley added after the game when asked about what this win-streak means to his team. “We talk about (them) developing, growing, and getting better - this is a great test. We talked about it before the game, what happened on our last road-trip in a tight game. They came back here, and showed what they learned. (They) took the game-plan and added to it.”
The Magic will close out their homestand Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks, looking to extend their winning-streak to four games. The team hasn’t won four in a row since the first four games of the 2020-2021 season (starting lineup of Fultz, Evan Fournier, Dwayne Bacon, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Vucevic).