NEW YORK – There’s a reason there’s a big blue bell hanging in the corner of the Orlando Magic training ground. This is to ring the bell and draw attention to the fuss games that are done during scrums and drills.
In turn, this should help reinforce the importance of energy and sacrifice for a young team trying to build a culture with these elements as a foundation.
Over the course of two games, the Magic made some of these plays, but not consistently enough. They also fell short of the standard of play with the pace, space and passing set up by head coach Jamahl Mosley.
The Magic (0-2) will have another opportunity to bring all of those elements to the table when they get a rematch with the New York Knicks (2-0) on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.
Orlando will seek revenge on a New York team who ruined their home opener. The Knicks gave the Magic’s defense crises as they broke a franchise record of 24 trebles en route to a 121-96 victory.
âThey space the floor so well and we talked about the guys they have there who are individually very talented,â said Mosley. â(Friday, the Knicks) were doing that extra pass and knocking back shots. (We’re going to) go back and watch the movie and see exactly where we’re at and the details of how we can improve.
Despite the loss, the Magic see encouraging signs of growth from its two rookies. Jalen Suggs, the fifth overall, filled the stat sheet with 14 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals, despite struggling from the floor and a connection on just four of his 17 shooting attempts. Franz Wagner, the eighth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, went 4 for 5 to distance on his 16-point path.
âWe constantly spoke of Franz as a kid with a high basketball IQ, a hard worker and a guy who just wants to do the right thing and make the right games,â Mosley said. âHe often finds himself in the right position offensively and defensively. I think he’s made a lot of progress in the preseason and now in the regular season. He will continue to grow, work and improve.
After getting the first real offseason of his career where he didn’t have to deal with illness or injury, center Mo Bamba begins to look more like the player the Magic envisioned when he used his sixth pick. overall in the 2018 NBA Draft over the University of Texas Alum.
After a preseason where he led the league in blocks with 3.8 rejections per game, Bamba is averaging 3.0 blocks per game during the regular season, which ranks fourth in the association. . As well as leading the Magic in rejects, he also boasts the best team points (16.5) and 3 points scored per game (3.0), as well as Orlando’s best in goal percentage on the field (70.6) and the percentage of 3 points (66.7).
QUOTE TO NOTE: âTrends. Looking up their tendencies and knowing what these guys want to get into offensively and be physical will be the two most important things defensively. Offensively I think we have to move the ball and play a lot less with the isolated ball and just trust us. â- Bamba on the keys to their Sunday night showdown with the Knicks.
IN AND OUT: Gary Harris (right hamstring; injury maintenance) is questionable, while Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain) and Chuma Okeke (right knee hip; bone contusion) all stay out.
For New York, Taj Gibson (personal reasons) is questionable, Nerlens Noel (painful left knee) is uncertain and Luka Samanic (G League; Two-Way) is absent.
RIVAL REPORT: In this edition of our Rivals Report series, we’re joined by New York Knicks beat writer Stefan Bondy who covers the team for the New York Daily News. He was kind enough to take the time to give his opinion on the Knicks.
* Note that this conversation took place before Magic’s game against the Knicks on Friday
Savage: “What did you see Obi Toppin in the first game?” He clearly played a big part in this victory.
Bondy: âYes. So (Tom) Thibodeau was reluctant to go for a small formation with Obi Toppin and Julius Randle together, putting Julius Randle in fifth place mainly because Thibodeau likes having a traditional cross for defensive purposes and rim protection. . But he was kind of forced into it because Taj Gibson was away for personal reasons and Nerlens Noel had knee pain. He was kind of forced into it and it worked. Obi was fantastic with this unit. He has. really energized the Knicks in the second half. They looked a bit overwhelmed in the first half but that roster adjustment changed the momentum. Obi Toppin, just based on the player he is in terms of athleticism and being able to do those flagship dunks, really turns the crowd up. So that also played a part. Obi Toppin was great (Wednesday) and I think that training with him and Julius Randle in first zone really showed something to Thibodeau. Ma intending, it’s not going to play against (each team). The Celtics were a good opponent as they have Robert Williams, who is just six-foot-nine, as a center. But I think they showed Thibodeau that it’s a place he can go more often this season. He really didn’t do it at all last season.
Savage: âHe might be new to New York, but Magic fans know Evan Fournier. What impact did he have in the first game and what kind of impression has he made on you since joining the Knicks? ”
Bondy: âFrom a media perspective, he was great. I’m sure you know he is open and honest and he tries in those press conference contexts which you can certainly appreciate as a journalist. On the court, listen, he struggled in the preseason. It wasn’t his best preseason. We thought it might take a little while to adjust, then boom. Crisis time hit (Monday) and it was amazing in crisis time. He was amazing in extra time and in the fourth quarter that’s when he really came to life. They wouldn’t have won this game without him. He and Julius Randle were the driving forces behind the Knicks’ offense last night.
Savage: âAs we look forward to their meeting with the Magic, what adjustments do you expect from the Knicks or in what areas Thibodeau will be looking to improve? ”
Bondy: âI think there’s a good chance Taj Gibson will be back. The reason he missed the first game is because he became a father. So he will probably come back again, but I’m not sure yet. If he comes back I think he’ll be squeezed into the starting lineup and the Knicks will go with a more traditional cross. And Mitchell Robinson will slide to the save center. Or he could always start Mitchell Robinson and Taj Gibson as a replacement. Either way, Taj Gibson, if he’s back, will have a few minutes. So that will be the big adjustment. Defensively, Thibodeau will come back to the gang against the Celtics and not be very happy. They gave up a lot of easy buckets. Jaylen Brown was killing them. RJ Barrett did a good job against Jayson Tatum, but other than that I think they struggled defensively. I think Thibodeau is going to really hammer this home for this game against the Magic. ”