Magic ranks second in the NBA in games that registered clutch minutes this season
INDANAPOLIS – Getting the opportunity to engage in close competition in the final moments of games is an invaluable experience for young players in the NBA.
The Orlando Magic, who started the season with the league’s fourth-youngest roster, have played in 12 matchups this season that have recorded clutch minutes — a five-point game with less than five minutes to play — and the second-highest finish Association occupied in the league.
Some of these games have ended in their favor. Orlando achieved victories over the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls this way, but lost last-second Thriller to the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers in the opposite manner.
The Magic will look to avenge their recent narrow loss when they complete their two-game street set with the Pacers on Monday at 7:00 p.m. ET.
“You can’t put any value on that,” said Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley about the tight game situations. “I think it’s so important for our boys to have that experience. They say we’re one of the youngest teams in the league. Our ability to get up close and personal with these games teaches them valuable lessons.”
After Jalen Suggs drilled a game-winning three-pointer in Chicago with 4.1 seconds left, Franz Wagner took a look at the rim against Indiana that would have given Orlando a one-point lead with 5.1 ticks remaining. Despite the miss and the Magic ultimately dropping a 114-113 decision to the Pacers, Orlando still executed his finishing offense well enough to get the look he wanted.
“You’re talking about going all out,” Mosley said of late-game situations. “You get the shot you want in the stretch to win the game. I don’t think you can ask more from these guys in situations like this. you get the shot Whether it goes in or not, you executed the game plan.”
Priorities regarding the Pacers and their strong offense remain the same. Indiana’s backcourt trio Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and rookie Bennedict Mathurin all played a big part in their preseason success, each hitting double digits against Orlando on Saturday.
Haliburton was acquired by the Pacers at the close of last season in a deal that also brought in Hield and sent Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento. The 6-foot-5 guard is just one of two players to average 20+ points and 10+ assists (the other is Philadelphia native James Harden) while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from the field 3 point range . He did his share of the damage against the Magic on Saturday, posting team-bests in points (22), assists (14), and blocks (three).
Mathurin, the sixth pick overall in the 2022 NBA Draft, has made a great start to his rookie campaign. Among freshmen, the University of Arizona graduate ranks only behind Orlando’s Paolo Banchero in points per game (19.1) and leads all rookies in 3 points per contest (2.5) while earning 44.2 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from deep.
With a dangerous backcourt leading their offensive attack, it’s no surprise Indiana is averaging 116.4 points per game, the fifth-highest in the association. They are third in 3 points per game (15.1), third in assists per game (28.3), and second in fast break points (17.1), while having the fifth-fastest pace (102.1) in the NBA to play.
“We need to improve our communication regarding our move,” Mosley said. “Take the three-point line further away. They got a lot going in that third quarter (on Saturday). Our ability to take that away is part of our communication and sticking to the game plan that we have set out for these guys.”
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Learning how to win in these tight games. It is fun. I definitely wish something more had gone our way, but we keep learning and growing. I feel like every day we’re growing, this team is getting smarter, we’re getting smarter, we’re growing better together. So it’s about trusting the process and continuing to grow and stick together.” – Spell Warden Gary Harris
IN AND OUT: Wendell Carter Jr. (right plantar fascia; stretch) did not go through shootaround and is a game-time decision. Paolo Banchero (left ankle sprain), Markelle Fultz (broken big left toe), Jonathan Isaac (recovering from left knee injury) and Moe Wagner (right metatarsal sprain) did not travel with the team and are missing for the Magic.
Questionable for Indiana are Kendall Brown (G League – two-way), Andrew Nembhard (left knee bruise) and Trevelin Queen (G League – two-way), while Chris Duarte (left ankle sprain) and Daniel Theis (right knee) are potential surgery ) are made.
HOW TO SEE: Watch the game on Bally Sports Florida or tune in to the radio on FM 96.9 The Game.