Magic rookie Anthony Black makes ‘right decisions’ in 1st career NBA start

Magic rookie Anthony Black didn’t feel nervous as he prepared to make his first career NBA start Saturday night against the Lakers at Amway Center.

Black, whom Orlando selected No. 6 overall in June’s draft, made the most of the opportunity while filling in for regular starting point guard Markelle Fultz, who’s dealing with left knee soreness.

The Magic likely will need more of the same from Black (11 points, 4 rebounds) when the team hosts the Mavericks, who feature two of the league’s best guards in Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, on Monday (Bally Sports Florida, 7).

Orlando (4-2) listed Fultz as questionable on the team’s initial injury report Sunday and already ruled out veteran guard Gary Harris (strained right groin) for the game.

“We’ll continue to keep monitoring it and see how they pull up after workouts [and] after the treatments,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said about Fultz and Harris pregame Saturday.

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Black used his length and size to disrupt the Lakers, including guard and Montverde Academy alum D’Angelo Russell, throughout the night.

On offense, the Magic rookie made the simple choices that led to points for Orlando. He finished with a plus-minus rating of plus-32.

“He embraces moments, he’s got a high-basketball IQ, he’s tough and he’s a team guy,” Mosley said after the game. “He’s willing to make the easy play, the easy pass and the right decisions. Those are things that stand out the most and his maturity for a young man in his rookie year.”

Black also hit two corner 3s against L.A., which could bode well for the Magic if can keep it up. Although that’s not his strong suit — he shot 30.1% from deep in one season at Arkansas — Black hitting that shot consistently in the future will force changes in how defenses cover.

“I feel like I pushed the pace and defended,” the rookie said. “I took my open shots, which has been big for me. [I] just trusted my work, and my teammates helped me out with the rest.”

Black wasn’t the only reserve inserted into the Magic’s starting lineup. Mosley turned to center Goga Bitadze to fill in for Wendell Carter Jr., who will undergo surgery to repair a fractured third metacarpal in his left hand.

Similar to Black, Bitadze was effective, scoring 10 points with 10 rebounds and 5 blocks.

Mosley credited his coaching staff for making the correct lineup adjustments.

“I lean on them so much and we lean on each other to try to decide the right thing for this entire group,” he said. “You get different opinions and thoughts, but whatever’s the right thing for this group in order for us to be able to be successful — that’s what we’re going to go with.”

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