Audition report from the AdventHealth Training Center
ORLANDO- The Orlando Magic put on one of their best performances of the season.
They shone at both ends of the parquet, receiving quality entries up and down on their way to a convincing win over the Boston Celtics, owners of the NBA’s best record.
Now, the Magic will look to build on that momentum when they host the Indiana Pacers at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday as Orlando seeks his ninth home win in his last 12 games within the friendly confines of the Amway Center.
“Our energy, our commitment, our ability to influence shots,” Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley said of what led to his team’s success. “On the defensive end, I’m just proud of what we did in the fourth quarter. Really sit down and guard. Make it a priority. We know we have to hang up our hats here.”
Orlando received a major boost in that area with the return of Jonathan Isaac, who missed two and a half seasons while recovering from a devastating left knee injury. Despite not playing in the NBA for 904 days, Isaac picked up right where he left off, recording 10 points, three rebounds, an assist and two steals in just under 10 minutes.
Perhaps his best sequence of the night came during a stretch late in the third quarter when he hit a corner three, came down the other end, pocketed the ball from Jaylen Brown and then set up Paolo Banchero for a two-handed slam.
“I think I can guard anyone from one to five,” Isaac said. “So to take on the challenge on my first night and stay with (Jayson Tatum and Brown), I want it. I just want to keep working and show what I can do. I want that to be my staple. Defense is an important part of our team. Look at how (Jalen) Suggs came into the game and maybe didn’t get as many shots as he wanted, but the way he dragged and held on to Tatum was amazing. So I want the guys to feed off of me and be the battery pack that will lead us to wins.
The Magic will certainly be looking to set the tone on defense against a Pacers roster that went on a seven-game losing streak Tuesday with a win over the Chicago Bulls. With Tyrese Haliburton out, Indiana’s attack is led by Buddy Hield, Myles Turner and rookie Bennedict Mathurin.
Hield currently leads all NBA players this season by 3 points and knocks down 185 of them. The next closest player is Portland’s Anfernee Simons, who is 20 threes behind the 6-foot-4, 220-pound guard. Myles Turner is averaging career-highs in both points (17.3) and rebounds (7.8) per game while also blocking 2.4 shots per contest.
Without Banchero’s amazing campaign in his first year, Mathurin would be one of the top contenders for the league’s Rookie of the Year. The sixth overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft is second in points per game (17.5) among rookies, trailing only Banchero, who leads his class with 20.7 points per contest.
IN AND OUT: When was the last time we saw such a brief injury report for Orlando? Only Kevon Harris (G League – Two-Way), Caleb Houstan (G League – On Assignment) and Chuma Okeke (left knee surgery) will be unavailable for the Magic on Wednesday night.
Indiana’s injury report has not yet been filed. However, Kendall Brown (G League – Two-Way), Haliburton (left knee, elbow; sprains), Andrew Nembhard (illness) and Daniel Theis (right knee surgery) all missed their game against the Bulls on Tuesday.
KEY STATUS: All Eyes On JI Based on Nielsen’s household impressions of the Orlando market, Isaac’s return in his team’s win over the Celtics was the most-watched Magic game at Bally Sports Florida since December 29, 2020.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Lots of love. I appreciate it. I know it’s been a tough road. I know it’s been a long road. To have the Magic fans stick by me and wait for my return feels great. I just want to win. I want to keep working and bring a championship to this city, and we will continue to do that.” – Isaac on his message to Magic fans
HOW TO SEE: Watch the game on Bally Sports Florida or tune in to the radio on FM 96.9 The Game.