Orlando Magic’s next man finds his turning point in Indiana


Orlando magic


Indiana pacemaker


The Orlando Magic ended their loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday frustrated and disappointed, but still proud.

The result was written all over their faces as the team narrowly missed out on a second straight win. The team has found just one game too short so many times. It carried her.

So clear are the mounting injuries that have left the team undermanned and in search of answers. As the team nears the fourth of its season, everyone begins to admit that they’re just trying to stay afloat. The injuries weigh on them, even when there is light at the end of the tunnel.

That’s why the tenor at Jamahl Mosley’s post-game press conference on Saturday night was hopeful. He expressed how proud he was of his team’s fight and the way they recovered after losing their lead again. The Magic, as they often do, managed to win.

Orlando wants to do more than just the “old college try.” They try to overcome this hump.

But they are human too. And a team can only stretch so far before it tears.

The Orlando Magic finally seemed to be crushed by the weight of all their injuries and the fatigue of an NBA season as they suffered their first loss of the season.

Finally there was a bang. The weight of so many players who had to step up and take on bigger roles, the weariness of so many miles and the frustration of not getting shots finally caught up with this team.

Overwhelmed for the first time all season, the Magic started slow and struggled to keep up with the Pacers and their excellent ball movements. They finally fell behind in the second quarter and never made a real run until they fell 123-102 Monday night at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

For the first time there was nothing positive to be gained from the result. Not even a mini-comeback that made things look better than they looked — like in losses to the Charlotte Hornets and Houston Rockets (over the past two weeks).

“I think tonight was just a drop in energy,” Mo Bamba said after Monday’s loss. “We always say that the third quarter is our Achilles’ heel. We just didn’t make it in the third quarter tonight.”

The Magic really lost the game in the third quarter, losing the period 32-22 and giving up five 3-pointers. Orlando had also lost the second quarter by 10 points, plunging the team into a big hole that was having a hard time finding the energy to get out.

Orlando’s problems were universal throughout the game.

The only thing that kept the magic in play were turnovers from the Pacers — 12 of their 20 turnovers in the first half. But Orlando couldn’t really take advantage of that either.

They were just 10 points short of those turnovers at halftime, as the Magic itself was shooting just 38.1 percent from the floor and had six assists on 16 field goals. They couldn’t help it, and the Pacers finally found their rhythm long before the Magic could.

The Pacers could get anything they wanted early on aside from their turnovers and overzealous driving. Indiana scored 58 points in the paint in 29-for-38 shooting in the paint. They would also finish the game with 32 assists on 43 field goals and shooting 50 percent from the floor.

That made up for only 13 out of 46 3-pointers. That was perhaps why the Magic was okay defensively. But the Pacers didn’t have to throw much out until the second half when those shots started coming.

Indiana had multiple opportunities to attack throughout the game. The Magic tried to find someone else to support Franz Wagner and had trouble finding it.

Orlando had to do a lot of things well to win the game, and a lot of them just didn’t happen. From the team’s turnovers – 17 turnovers for 21 points – to the offensive rebound – 23 second chance points on 12 offensive rebounds.

The Magic struggled to get stops consistently and struggled to convert the Pacers’ mistakes. It was part of what helped give Orlando the lead on Saturday.

But this time there was no relief.

There were no solutions and nothing the team could seem to do to pull themselves out. For the first time, the Magic just couldn’t keep up and nothing could save them.

“There is a certain level of difficulty,” said coach Jamahl Mosley after Monday’s defeat. “It’s probably going to ring like the same message I repeat, the lads that step foot on this ground have to be ready to go. It’s part of our job to compete and play hard every night to make sure we can continue to stay and work together. Obviously there were games we were up and down in. We have to keep fighting.”

The Magic even lost Chuma Okeke during the game due to left knee pain and Jalen Suggs spent the second half visibly limping and tightening his shoes and ankle braces to try and stay out there. The effort was valiant, but it was time to switch off and get some rest.

Magic has delayed this event as long as possible.

They were imperfect and made many youthful mistakes. It has never stopped her from competing and having a chance to win. They could always feel how tantalizingly close they were to the top of the mountain.

A game doesn’t change that. That was a bad game. Everyone has them.

But it showed once again how far Orlando is right now. It showed once again how much magic is missing right now. They again had to direct lineups, with Admiral Schofield helping in the middle. You’re looking for answers on a list that wasn’t meant to ask those questions.

The team can keep saying it’s about the next man and keep crunching, but there will be nights like this when the team will run out of answers. Every team has them. It’s a wonder the Magic didn’t have a night like this much sooner. Or more of them considering the team’s injury woes.

“It’s tough,” said Bamba after Monday’s defeat. “At the end of the day, it’s the NBA. Nobody said it would be easy. Coach Moses always preaches the next man up mentality. This is something we need to talk about instead of talking about. I think we did a pretty good job. We have three days before we play again. Hopefully we can get the guys to feel good before we play Philly.

But the team eventually ran out of answers. The magic finally struggled to find the energy to keep playing. Frustration set in, but more than that, fatigue set in. Orlando looked clearly exhausted from the weight of carrying a team that was sorely lacking.

The Magic were certainly happy to have Gary Harris back (18 points, 6-for-11 shooting). But they missed Wendell Carter. And they’re still clearly missing the reinforcements that have been out for so long.

The magic needs some help. This team has finally reached its breaking point.