ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic opened their 2019-20 season with a sold win over the Cleveland Cavaliers 94-85 in front of a sold out crowd at the Amway Center.
The Magic’s core from last year returned to form as Nikola Vucevic lead the teams scoring with 21 points and 9 rebounds followed by Evan Fournier with 16 points and 4 assists.
That solidified the teams scoring, which also included an awesome debut by point guard Markelle Fultz. Markelle recieved the biggest ovation when announced in the pre-game, and has been the most anticipated player debut for the Magic this year. Last night was his first regular-season NBA game since Nov. 19, 2018.
Fultz continued his spectacular play from the pre-season with drives into the center of the Cleveland defense and distributing the ball. Fultz managed to get his shot going and scored 12 points and dished off 6 assists. Fultz’s jump shot was working as well, although he went 0-3 from 3-point range.
“His ability to get in the paint and finish plays, it was the difference in the game,” Clifford said.
Fultz even had assists that were missed, like when he did a clever backhanded dish to Mo Bamba in the paint that he fumbled away.
The Cavaliers continue with their reputation of being a strong rebounding team with Kevin Love pulling in 18 rebounds and Tristan Thompson grabbing 11, still dominating the rebounding game.
The Magic managed a swarming defense in the paint vs the Cavs, and limited them to just 10 offensive rebounds, but Clifford was not satisfied with part of their game.
“I thought there were a lot of things that are typical of an opening-night game,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “I thought we did some good things.”
The Magic led by as much as 20 points in the game, but it somehow still felt like a close game. Clifford noted that there were still too many turnovers (13 for 11 points) and had a lot of sloppy play. He did note that they will be working and in time those areas will improve.
Next game, the Magic travel to Atlanta for the Hawks Opener on Saturday night at State Farm Arena, followed by a return to Toronto to face the reigning NBA Champs Raptors on Monday.