The Magic center rotation got exposed against Sabonis. He was able to easily get P&R rolls. He controlled the paint extremely well and took out help defenses well.
Trevelin Queen had a great game, starting with deflections and defense, then surprising scoring.
Anthony Black continues to look confident as a shooter. The goal is to get him to be an on-ball, primary guard but for now he is thriving in his off-ball role offensively with good defense. His first three shots were at all 3 levels, showing even more promising flashes of growing offense.
Wendell Carter was mistake-prone in the first quarter, committing carless turnovers and missing box-outs. Several times, he let slashers go uncontested at the rim. Sometimes this was due to late recognition, others it was “business decisions.” He still looks rusty in coming back from injury.
Malik Monk’s shooting with Fox out was tremendous; his 3 level scoring ability + playmaking growth has made him a 6th Man of the Year favorite, which has helped soften the blow/close the gap for when Fox is off the floor. The Kings also don’t lose pace with Monk, compared to how they run with Fox, being as quick as he is. Monk did a lot of damage in transition, completing passes in tight windows at high speeds. Monk defeated the Magic defense at the rim often too, being too quick for rim protectors to react and too quick for the Magic perimeter defenders to keep up on drives.
3 point defense plagued the Magic in the first half. They missed rotations to the corners and struggled defending 3s off screens. One of the perpetrators of this primarily was Caleb Houstan, who over-helped at the rim and left corners open too often. Paolo Banchero was also ball-watching often, putting him in bad spots defensively.
Paolo Banchero’s scoring is one of the top stories from this game, and one element of his scoring that stood out was his pull-up shooting from both mid-range and 3 point range. This could be a sign towards a much-needed shooting improvement to take the next step offensively.
Keegan Murray was often the camel that broke the straw’s back for the Magic defense. This primarily came from transition scoring and open threes.
Goga Bitadze struggled on both ends. He often forced bad shots, including a bad shot at the rim in the late 2nd quarter as well as a costly missed corner 3 in double OT.
Jalen Suggs continues to play at an All-Defense level, heavily impacting shots at all scoring levels, while also disrupting passing lanes and forcing plays to the other side of the court from him.
6:49 Magic steal is a great example of Jalen Suggs’ defensive impact without any box score measure. Completely disrupts the play and turns the play away from him, leading to a turnover.
27 seconds later he forced a turnover on-ball, hounding Duarte into a turnover near the halfcourt line.
Kevin Huerter has lost his touch as the shooting specialist in Sacramento, with teams willing to give him space and teammates clearly not trusting him anymore. A change of scenery may be due, which could make him a buy-low option to help a team, fittingly enough like Orlando, improve as a jump shooting team.
In fact, turnovers is a huge part of how the Magic got back into the game in the third quarter. Yes, Paolo Banchero taking over played a key role, but they slowed down the Kings which led to more scoring opportunities than Sacramento.
Chuma Okeke checked in for the first time in the third quarter, and immediately made an impact with a swipe then contest on a missed 3. Later in the game, his consistent shooting was a big reason the Magic brought the game to double overtime.
Paolo Banchero is one of the hardest slashers to stop when he gets downhill. With the quick offensive tempo of the modern NBA, Paolo is able to thrive by getting downhill with hard acceleration within the first 8 seconds of the shot clock. This often leads to high free throw volume and high rim percentage. His power slashing at his size makes him consistently one of the hardest players to defend, even if teams sag off of him on the perimeter. Of course, this was part of his 18 straight points takeover in the 4th quarter.
The Sabonis P&R was lethal to Orlando, giving them headaches in deciding to guard the ball-handler or rolling Sabonis, who also created for others and kept the offense flowing to find open shots.
Orlando lost their legs in overtime and double overtime, with both teams playing on the back end of a back-to-back. Everyone’s legs were clearly tired, which was confusing because of the high 3 point volume despite of this concern. Ultimately, this played a role in a somewhat stagnated offense in the two overtimes.