The Orlando Magic have benefited from one thing that has been uncommon for them in recent times: continuity within the beginning lineup.
Monday’s 126-125 away loss in opposition to the Atlanta Hawks was the tenth consecutive sport through which 5 gamers Markelle Fultz, Franz Wagner, Paolo Bankero, Bol Bol and Mo Wagner made up the beginning lineup.
Till Monday, the Magic did not have the identical beginning group for 10 consecutive video games from Jan. 23 to March 2, when Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Moe Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr. began 17 video games in a row.
Continuity has gone past the beginning block. Prior to now few video games, the Magic have persistently used the identical bench of Admiral Schofield, Kevon Harris, Terrence Ross, Anthony and Bamba, and Orlando got here out on Monday with a season-best six-win streak.
“That is very invaluable,” coach Jamal Mosley stated earlier than the sport. “We’re speaking about continuity. A man who can play collectively, learn and react to one another, not solely on offense but in addition on protection, can inform if we’re in cowl and if schemes are altering, however they’ll talk nicely with one another.”
Sadly for the Magic, the Hawks have challenged them in areas the place they’ve proven essentially the most enchancment within the final couple of weeks.
Led by Trae Younger (37 factors on 11-of-22 taking pictures and 13 assists), Atlanta dominated the Magic within the paint, scoring 62 factors on 31-of-49 taking pictures on the State Farm Enviornment.
“You must take your hat off to the Hawks,” Mosley stated. “Trey is a troublesome guard. It causes so many various conditions they put you in. You need to give them credit score for that. I am nonetheless pleased with our guys for the way we fought. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the sport on the finish.”
The Hawks introduced again John Collins (12 factors, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) and DeJont Murray (17 factors, 5 rebounds and three assists) after each missed a number of video games with a sprained left ankle.
Atlanta scored at the least 34 factors within the first three quarters, taking a 104–94 lead within the fourth, and had a 124–112 lead with 3:05 left.
“They’re an excellent offensive crew,” stated Mo Wagner, who had 16 factors and 10 rebounds. “They scattered you. They’ve a very good level guard who makes the suitable selections. [and] finds his boyfriends. They’ve these excessive pick-and-rolls which are exhausting for any crew to defend. You have to be in step with the lighting and we began the sport [inconsistently]. You possibly can’t do this in opposition to a great attacking crew.”
The Magic then stepped up their defenses.
They made six consecutive defensive stops over the following three minutes to assist them go 11-0 within the streak and shut the Hawks’ result in 124-123 with 28.8 seconds left.
Harris pressured Younger to overlook the shifting bobber with 9.9 seconds left, and Fultz referred to as a timeout after grabbing the protection protect.
“On protection, he simply chases basketball,” Mosley stated of Harris. “He guarded Trey a number of instances. He is aware of tips on how to change. Once we began placing traps a bit of extra to hurry them up a bit, he did an excellent job arising with some unfastened basketballs.”
After a timeout, Fultz (team-record 24 factors on 11-of-19 taking pictures plus 9 assists and 6 rebounds) moved from the backcourt to the rim to transform a great reverse layup to offer the Magic 125-124 with 3.8 seconds remaining.
Banchero fouled Murray on his jumper with 1.3 seconds left, with Murray flattening each free throws to offer the Hawks a 126–125 lead.
After a Magic timeout, Banchero missed his three-pointer in time to offer the Hawks a (16–15) win and break Orlando’s successful streak.
“He is obtained a clear look,” Mosley stated of the final sport. “They flew at him [at the last] second. It was a bit of late, however initially he appeared brazenly.”
After the ultimate sign sounded, Fultz walked as much as Banchero (18 factors on 7-of-14 taking pictures, plus 7 assists and 4 rebounds) and gave him an A as they walked off the courtroom collectively.
“I simply informed him to maintain his head [up]”Fultz stated. “I do know he is in all probability pissed off with the foul, that kick and the various performs all through the sport. It is a lengthy season. He is a rookie and performs very nicely. He is very exhausting on himself.
“I do know what it is like when perhaps the sport was on you and there is one thing you may [done] assist, however not solely these pranks led to the truth that we misplaced the sport. Quite a few performs led to this. He nonetheless did a tremendous job of protecting his composure and taking part in exhausting. My job for him is to maintain my head up and put together for the following one. Do not beat your self up too exhausting.”
Franz Wagner had 19 factors (6 of 18) and seven rebounds. Terrence Ross (14 factors) and Mo Bamba (11) have mixed 25 factors off the bench.
Monday marked the fourth and closing time the Magic and Hawks have met this season, with three of these video games going down up to now three weeks.
“It is exhausting to lose a sport like this,” Fultz stated. “We’re nonetheless doing nicely. Everybody tells one another to maintain their heads up. We have accomplished an excellent job of combating again [and] staying with him. It stays to organize for the following one. We needed it tonight, however we have been a bit of unfortunate.”
The Hawks received the season sequence 3-1 with victories over Orlando on Oct. 21 in Atlanta, Nov. 30 in Orlando, and Monday. The Magic beat the Hawks final Wednesday in Orlando.
The Magic (11-21) will finish their journey in opposition to the Rockets on Wednesday in Houston.
“Nobody is comfortable about this,” Mosley stated. “These guys perceive how a lot they fought and fought to get again within the sport. Give your self an opportunity to win the sport. They’re disenchanted, however additionally they perceive that we should transfer on to the following one. That is the 24 hour rule. It burns, it burns, however now we have to get again and put together for Houston.”
This text first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Electronic mail Hobie Worth at email@example.com or observe him on Twitter at @khobi_price.