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Knicks 102, Magic 89: Orlando falls short of the Summer League finals in a tight affair

Despite some Tommy Kuhse heroics the Magic couldn’t fight their way to victory on Thursday night

2022 NBA Summer League - New York Knicks v Orlando Magic Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Needing a healthy margin of victory to potentially force their way into the final series, the Magic came out swinging in their fourth Summer League showdown. An aggressive switching and help scheme combined with a ‘bombs away’ approach from downtown to give the team a high variance shot at nudging their way into contention. However, it ultimately wasn’t to be, the team succumbing 102-89 largely on the back of inaccurate shooting and a failure to secure the defensive glass.

The Magic found themselves down double-digits after less than three minutes of game time, conceding the first 11 points of the game courtesy of a slew of turnovers and wide-open misses. Neither Caleb Houstan nor Devin Cannaday – the two names of most interest on the roster – were able to get anything going during this opening stretch, combining for just two missed three-point attempts and a pair of turnovers in the quarter.

The team’s slow start began to turn once the bench entered the fray, with Jared Wilson-Frame establishing a rhythm in knocking down three of four long-range attempts. His third appeared to cut what was once a twelve point deficit to just five, but upon review it was rescinded due to an off-ball foul elsewhere. Back-to-back turnovers by Tommy Kuhse on the next two possessions further compounded the situation, Orlando ultimately going into the quarter time break down 27-17.

A 6-0 run to open the second sliced the margin to four, a sequence capped by a beautiful bounce-pass in transition by Wilson-Frame to a streaking Justin James. Energetic defense helped force the Knicks into three straight turnovers as the quarter approached its mid-point, an opportunistic lay-up by Kuhse bringing the Magic back within a bucket.

Houstan’s cold shooting night continued as the contest wound its way towards half-time, the rookie forward missing two more long-range looks and posting just a solitary assist to his name at the main break. Cannady and Kuhse, however, were both able to find the bottom of the bucket, back-to-back triples by the duo again drawing the Magic within two. The team just couldn’t find the equalizing bucket, though, with New York closing the half with a 6-1 spurt that gave them a 45-38 advantage at the break.

Orlando’s three-point happy approach continued coming out of the break, Cannady connecting on the team’s 24th attempt from deep to open the second half scoring. A smooth pull-up jumper by Houstan and a corner triple to Kwan Cheatham Jr. continued the Magic’s fast start to the period, the team seizing its first lead of the game when Cheatham Jr. drilled another open look from the same spot.

The two teams went back and forth over the next few minutes, the lead changing hands a couple of times as both sides searched for the ascendancy. It was Justin James who ultimately kept the Magic in the thick of the contest, the rangy swingman accounting for 9 of Orlando’s final 13 points in the period and largely countering the improved outside shooting of the Knicks. The deficit ultimately settled at 7 at the final break, the Magic trailing 74-67 with ten minutes still to play.

Play gummed up some in the final frame, with both sides struggling to find any flow on offense. In fact, outside of a pair of Kuhse jumpers, it took more than three minutes of action for the teams to score from somewhere other than point blank range or the charity stripe.

With the clock ticking down the game started to open up some, both teams getting out in transition and running off turnovers and misses alike. With both Kuhse and Wilson-Frame continuing to put up points the Magic were on four occasions able to pull within a single basket, but each time the Knicks countered with an answer of their own. As such, the margin largely hovered around seven points until New York were able to pull away in the closing minutes, ultimately ending Orlando’s designs on Summer League victory with a 102-89 result.

In defeat the Magic were led by Tommy Kuhse, the frenetic guard finishing with 25 points on 11-15 shooting to go along with 4 assists and 4 steals. Justin James put up 16 on 5-12 shooting, while Jared Wilson-Frame and Kwan Cheatham Jr. finished with 10 apiece to round out Orlando’s double digit scorers. The other key contributor was Zavier Simpson, who compiled a well-rounded 8 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 ‘stocks’ despite a wonky shooting night (3-11).

Caleb Houstan had a night to forget, finishing with only 2 points, 2 rebounds and an assist and going just 1-8 from the field (including 0-6 from deep). Devin Cannady was similarly ineffective, with just 6 points, 4 rebounds and an assist on 2-11 shooting (2-10 from deep).