Magic Crush Rockets in Record-Breaking Season Opener

The Orlando Magic started their 2023-24 NBA season with a bang, as they demolished the Houston Rockets 116-86 at the Amway Center on Wednesday night. The 30-point victory is the largest margin of victory in an opening-night game in team history.

Magic Crush Rockets

Magic’s Defense Shines Against Rebuilt Rockets

The Magic, who have been rebuilding their roster for the last few years, showed off their defensive potential against the Rockets, who also underwent a major overhaul in the offseason. Orlando held Houston to just 32 points in the paint and out-rebounded them 56-31. The Rockets, who added several free agents, including Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks, shot only 38.6% from the field and 28.9% from beyond the arc.

The Magic’s defense was led by Jonathan Isaac, who played in his first regular season game since February 2022 due to a knee injury. Isaac was a force on both ends of the floor, scoring 11 points, grabbing six rebounds, blocking four shots and stealing two passes. He also helped limit Jalen Green, the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft, to just 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

“I would say extremely (proud),” Isaac said of his team’s effort. “Our mindset is just how are we moving forward? Can we keep that level of intensity and focus the entire 48 (minutes)?”

Magic’s Bench Outplays Rockets’ Starters

Another key factor in the Magic’s blowout win was their bench production. Orlando’s reserves outscored Houston’s starters 59-54 and provided a spark whenever they entered the game. Cole Anthony, who signed a contract extension on Tuesday, led all scorers with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including four three-pointers. He also added five assists and four rebounds.

“We did our thing,” Anthony said of the second unit. “We came in and I thought we brought great defensive intensity. I feel like as a unit we changed the game early, got us out to a good lead…It just felt good to be on that side of the court, the winning side.”

Other bench contributors for the Magic included Terrence Ross (14 points), Mo Bamba (10 points, eight rebounds) and RJ Hampton (nine points, six assists). The Magic’s bench outscored the Rockets’ bench 59-27.

Wagner and Banchero Impress in Their NBA Debuts

The Magic also got impressive performances from their two rookies, Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero, who both started in their NBA debuts. Wagner, the No. 6 pick in the 2023 draft, scored 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including five three-pointers. He also had four rebounds and two assists.

Banchero, the No. 8 pick in the draft, filled up the stat sheet with 12 points, five rebounds, five assists and one steal. He also showed off his versatility by playing both forward and center positions.

Both Wagner and Banchero benefited from playing alongside veteran point guard Markelle Fultz, who returned from a torn ACL that sidelined him for most of last season. Fultz had eight points and seven assists in his first game since December 2022.

“I think Markelle is a great leader,” Wagner said. “He talks a lot on the court, he makes plays for everybody. He makes everybody better.”

Magic Look to Carry Momentum into West Coast Trip

The Magic will look to build on their impressive season opener as they head out to the West Coast for a four-game road trip. They will face the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, followed by games against the Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers.

The Rockets will try to bounce back from their disappointing loss when they host the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *