Considering the state of their roster and their rebuilding plan, things have gone about as well as the Orlando Magic could have envisioned over the first three games of the season.
Now the Magic just needs a win to show for their promising efforts.
The Magic will look to snap a season-opening three-game losing streak Monday, when they visit the New York Knicks.
The Magic were off Sunday after falling 126-120 in their home opener Saturday night to the Boston Celtics. The Knicks have been off since their home debut Friday night, when they rolled to a 130-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
The Magic finished with the second-worst record in the NBA at 22-60 last season before winning the draft lottery and selecting Duke’s Paolo Banchero. So far this season, they have been outscored by 20 total points in losing their first three games.
After squandering double-digit leads against the Pistons on Wednesday and the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, the Magic threatened the defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics until the final minutes Saturday. A dunk by Bol Bol gave Orlando a 109-107 lead midway through the fourth quarter before Boston mounted a decisive 14-4 run to take a 121-113 lead with 1:29 remaining.
“That is an elite Boston team, there’s a reason why they went to the Finals last year,” Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said. “What I loved about what we did was our effort, our energy together, the resiliency of staying the course no matter what was happening within the game.”
Banchero continued to emerge Saturday as a go-to player for a Magic squad missing Jalen Suggs, who sprained his ankle in Friday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Markelle Fultz (toe) and Jonathan Isaac (hamstring) are out indefinitely.
Banchero scored seven points in the fourth quarter Saturday and finished with 23 points, making him just the fourth No. 1 overall draft pick to open his career by scoring at least 20 points in each of his first four games.
For the Knicks, their decisive win over the Pistons provided some satisfaction following a season-opening 115-112 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, who are expected to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
New York overcame a 19-point third-quarter deficit against Memphis, held a lead late in regulation and missed four shots with a chance to take the lead in overtime as well as two potential game-tying 3-pointers in the final minute.
On Friday, the Knicks led the Pistons by as many as 29 points while getting wide-ranging contributions. New York’s reserves scored 64 points, just two fewer than the starting five. Immanuel Quickley, who was scoreless in just under 17 minutes against the Grizzlies, scored a team-high 20 points in a little more than 27 minutes off the bench.
“We need that from our bench,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They played well as a group and that was the most pleasing thing.”
–Field Level Media