Magic needing to become more consistent with the game’s ‘little situations’
As cliche as it may sound, the message from Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley has been consistent: nailing the little things throughout a game can be the difference between a win or loss.
Thursday’s 116-113 road defeat to the Phoenix Suns was another example of the Magic learning this lesson the hard way.
It’s easy to point to Josh Okogie blocking Paolo Banchero’s potential game-tying 3-point attempt with 3.1 seconds remaining to seal the win for Phoenix as the game-defining play.
But it shouldn’t be viewed that way.
“Coming up short, it’s not just about that one play,” Mosley said. “It’s not about that possession there. There’s fouling where we don’t need to foul. Fouling shooters. Little situations like that we have to keep understanding, those are the possessions that get you into end-of-game situations.”
Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz fouling 3-point shooters at the end of the first and second quarters resulted in a combined 4 made Suns free throws. In a 3-point loss, those are game-changing moments.
Having 19 turnovers for 17 Phoenix points hurts, especially for a Magic team that regularly loses the 3-point battle and depends on winning the possession battle for an advantage.
These shortcomings didn’t stop them from coming back from down double digits and tying the game at 101 with 5:52 remaining.
But the Magic’s 6 turnovers in the final 5 1/2 minutes prevented them from taking a late lead. Orlando only took 6 shots during that period compared to the 10 from the Suns, who only had 2 giveaways.
Being more consistent in these ways — taking care of the ball, not committing unnecessary fouls, boxing out and grabbing defensive rebounds — are among the areas young teams such as the Magic need to hone in on.
“These guys are learning the intensity of games, the importance of possessions,” Mosley said. “That means that possession in the first quarter goes a long way in the fourth quarter. Just understanding how important these possessions are, how hard you have to play and how smart you have to play the entire game.”
The Magic (28-42) will play back-to-back games in Los Angeles against the Clippers (37-33) on Saturday afternoon and the Lakers on Sunday evening to close out their four-game trip.
“The opportunity to put it all together,” Mosley said of what he wants to see from the Magic over the next two games. “You talk about the effort and the energy we had in San Antonio [that] we were disappointed in and you see what we did with the ability to bounce back after a tough game.
“Do all of that and still accomplish doing the small things: boxing out, defend without fouling. All those little things.”
Second-year guard Jalen Suggs won’t be available against the Clippers because of a concussion.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.