ORLANDO – If you go to see the Orlando Magic these days, get ready to see many new faces. The stalwarts that have been in blue are no longer in the house, anew, younger talent, Wendell Carter Jr, RJ Hampton, and more, are on the floor as the team shifts to the future.
The new-look Magic lost to the Washington Wizards 131-116 on Wednesday as the Magic worked on their team flow as the Wizards blazed the nets with 57% shooting.
Positives: Lots of energy for Orlando, and balanced scoring by the home team. Also, Cole Anthony and his energy returned to the floor for the Magic.
Negatives: Washington’s range shooters destroyed the Magic as they constantly led them open off of switches and pick and rolls, Davis Bertans scorched Orlando from deep for 22 points and six made three’s, as well as Bradley Beal with four three’s and 26 points, and David Avdija, with four three’s and 16 points.
The Magic did have some very palaces scoring, as mentioned earlier. The boys in blue were lead with 24 points by Terance Ross, as well s a career high 19 points by Mo Bamba, 15 by Wendell Carter Jr, and RJ Hampton, Coles Anthony, and Michael Carter-Williams also scoring in double digits.
The problem, again is on defense. The Wizards scored 57.6% FG percentage and 52.8% on 3-point shots. It was those 3-point makes that was the difference in the game.
The Magic led in rebounds and steals, had less turnovers, and, seeing that they are basically a ‘new’ team, managed to score 116 points.
Antony was not happy about his return to the floor.
“I was out of shape” Anthony said. “I have to get in better shape and I didn’t play well. I was out two months. That’s a very, very long time. The first time I checked into the game, it was an awesome feeling and about a minute later I was winded.”
Steve Clifford had more to say about his team’s play.
“They had us spread out and the majority of their shots they made were in-rhythm shots for good shooters and they’re going to make those,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said. “[Rebounding] numbers are going to be misleading because … they were so open, then shot 57% and so there weren’t a lot of rebounds there.”
Magic to release Khem Birch
This morning, it leaked into the press that Center Khem Birch will be released from the Magic. The team has reportedly worked out a buyout with Khem to give him a chance to sight with Toronto, his likely destination.
Birch, a 6ft 9 Center who played with UNLV and has played in 188 games for Orlando, is known as a grinder, who would get inside the paint and do a lot of the dirty work for Orlando. Always full of hustle and grit, he was a solid player who was not afraid to battle inside.
“He just stands for everything you want in a professional athlete. He’s a serious-minded, committed player. He was a good player when he got here and he’s much better now,” Clifford said of Birch, who played collegiately at UNLV. “Of all the guys we’ve had on our roster, he has sacrificed the most.”
The Magic next face the Indiana Pacers on Friday at the Amway Center, at 7pm.