CHICAGO — Perhaps the only visible difference between Wednesday’s Magic win at the Bulls and Friday’s road victory by Orlando was the bright red court used at United Center for the In-Season Tournament.
Coach Jamahl Mosley‘s squad limited Chicago to 33 points in the first half (the fewest points any team has scored before halftime this season) for the second game in a row, the Bulls came roaring back behind Zach LaVine’s shooting in the fourth quarter again and the young Magic found a way to win, 103-97, late for a consecutive road test.
“It’s just funny how it happens,” said veteran guard Gary Harris, who was inserted in Orlando’s starting lineup Friday while Jalen Suggs was out due to a sore left knee. “It was like the same situation as the last game.
“It wasn’t technically how we wanted to go but just for us to come together, for them to take the lead, for us to regain our composure and go out there and steal another one in Chicago … That’s just the resiliency of this team.”
Orlando’s 7-5 record is the team’s best after 12 games since the 2017-18 season (8-4) and the team has reached that mark without regular starters Wendell Carter Jr. (left hand), Markelle Fultz (left knee tendinitis) and now Suggs.
The Magic wrap up a four-game road trip Sunday (Bally Sports Florida, 5) against the Pacers before returning home for a back-to-back early next week against the Raptors (Tuesday) and defending NBA champions Denver Nuggets.
In place of Suggs, Harris (15 points) earned his first start of the season for the Magic. He made 42 last year for Orlando.
Harris (3 of 7 from 3) helped space the floor but it was clear the Magic were missing a steady hand on offense without Suggs and Fultz. Eventually, Orlando settled down and found its rhythm thanks to shooting from Harris and reserve Joe Ingles as it ended the first quarter on a 12-2 run.
After Banchero’s game-winner Wednesday, it was Wagner on Friday who put the Magic ahead with 20.6 seconds left when he drove to the basket and converted the and-one.
Wagner (21 points) had success reaching the rim throughout and added a pair of 3-pointer. Banchero (13) also was able to get going toward the basket but recorded seven turnovers, including four in the third quarter as he forced passes at times.
Orlando’s bench outscored Chicago’s 50-8 as Isaac (18 points), Moe Wagner (10) and Anthony (11) all finished in double digits.
Not only did Ingles offer long-range shooting but he made the correct and simple passes to teammates to finish with five assists.
Isaac ran the court well and was on the end of one of Ingles’ drop-off passes that led to a driving dunk for the 6-10 forward in the second quarter. He helped ice the game by sinking two free throws with 12 second remaining. His 18 points were a season-high and most for him since December 2019.
Houstan only saw six minutes of action but sank his one 3-point attempt and grabbed two rebounds.
Although he started again in place of Fultz, Black wasn’t effective on offense, which limited his time on the court. For example, he checked out of the first quarter at the 6:36 mark and didn’t return until there was 14 seconds left in the first half.
In 11 total minutes, Black scored 2 points on just 2 attempts with 3 turnovers.
Despite the lackluster performance on offense, Mosley still trusted the rookie on defense and put him on the floor to close out the final 20.6 seconds because of his length and size as a young guard.