The story Monday night at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, NV was more about who wasn’t playing than it was about who was playing (at least for the Orlando Magic).
Basketball fans will have to wait a little bit longer to catch Paolo Banchero (the first overall pick in the ‘22 NBA Draft) face Chet Holmgren (the second overall selection).
After two rather stellar performances through Orlando’s first two summer league contests, news broke Monday afternoon (from veteran reporter Marc Stein) that the Magic were opting to shut Banchero down for the remainder of the team’s summer schedule in Las Vegas.
The anticipated Paolo Banchero vs. Chet Holmgren summer league showdown tonight in Las Vegas is indeed off.— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 11, 2022
The Magic have decided to halt Banchero's summer league debut after two games and plan to prioritize minutes for others now.
More NBA from me: https://t.co/LGN9cV7Dif
“I want to give these other guys an opportunity to play, to kind of be able to show what they’re capable of doing,’’ Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley told reporters in Las Vegas. “That’s the point of summer league, you know, give them a chance. An opportunity for these other guys to see what they’re capable of doing. And we’ve seen what Paolo was capable of doing.’’
Orlando’s top pick averaged 20.0 points, 6.0 assists, and 5.0 rebounds in his summer league debut, leading the Magic to two dramatic wins along the way.
The Magic also held out third-year guard R.J. Hampton (12.0 points and 7.5 rebounds this summer over Orlando’s first two games) and forward Admiral Schofield Monday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It remains to be seen if either Hampton or Schofield play again for the Magic this summer.
While the Magic may have opted to get more of a look at some other players a little bit ‘deeper’ on their roster for the rest of the summer, the Thunder certainly did not go in that direction Monday night.
Besides Holmgren, the Thunder also ran out four players from their NBA rotation last season in Josh Giddey, Tre Mann, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, and Aaron Wiggins. Oklahoma City even had yet another lottery pick coming off their bench in Jalen Williams, the 12th overall pick from this past year’s draft.
With the deck heavily stacked against them, the Magic started this game off as one would likely imagine - pretty rough. Orlando missed 12 of their 18 field goals in the first quarter, connecting on only one of their nine three-point field goal attempts. On the other hand, the Thunder shot just under 65 percent from the field in the opening period, jumping out to a 17-point lead after the game’s first 10 minutes.
Giddey and Wiggins led the way early for the Thunder, with the former orchestrating Oklahoma City’s offense beautifully (4 points and 4 assists in seven first quarter minutes), while the latter made all three of his field goal attempts en route to 7 first quarter points. Oklahoma City absolutely dominated Orlando on the boards to begin the game, outrebounding the Magic by a 14-3 advantage after the first.
Once Oklahoma City turned their lineup over, the game started to change significantly. Orlando’s summer reserves were able to battle themselves back into the game, actually outscoring Oklahoma City in both the second and third quarters.
After being held scoreless in the first half, Magic guard Devin Cannady knocked down three three-point field goals in the third quarter.
The Magic kept chipping away at the Thunder’s early lead, and cut Oklahoma City’s advantage to single digits heading to the game’s final period.
A three-point field goal from reserve guard Tommy Kuhse (14 points in 19 minutes) with just over five minutes remaining in the contest helped Orlando make it a two possession game, cutting Oklahoma City’s lead down to just five points. Moments later, two converted free throws by Magic guard Zavier Simpson narrowed the game even closer, this time to just two points. Simpson tied the game on the next Orlando offensive possession, converting a wild running layup in the paint over the outstretched arm of Robinson-Earl.
Oklahoma City finished the game with their starters, who were able to make just enough plays down the stretch to push the Thunder past the depleted Magic summer league squad.
With just under two minutes remaining, Holmgren blocked a driving attempt by Simpson, rebounded the attempt, and converted a layup against a considerably smaller defender at the other end. He finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.
Orlando had a shot to send the game to overtime, possessing the ball - down three points - with just 21 seconds remaining. But three separate three-point attempts (from Caleb Houstan, Cannady, and Aleem Ford) all came up empty.
Justin James led the way for the Magic, scoring 16 points off the bench in just 17 minutes. James played in 72 games for the Sacramento Kings from 2019-2021. Emanuel Terry posted a double-double for Orlando, scoring 10 points and grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds.
Second round pick (32nd overall) and recently-signed wing Houstan had a forgettable night, scoring just 4 points in 30 minutes (2-10 FGA’s, 0-6 3PTA’s).