Cole Anthony, Terrence Ross fuel Magic to first win, beating Knicks, 110-104

·4 min read

Orlando has learned some hard lessons through the first two games but that education is starting to pay off as the Magic earned their first win of the season, beating the New York Knicks, 110-104.

Cole Anthony posted his first career double-double in his return to the New York area, posting 29 points and 16 rebounds along with 8 assists. Terrance Ross had 22 points – all in the fourth quarter.

It’s the first win by the Magic (1-2) since beating the Detroit Pistons on May 3, snapping a 9-game losing streak dating back to last season.

Anthony played high school basketball at Archbishop Molloy High School in nearby Queens. His father, Greg, played for the Knicks from 1991-95.

It was a game of runs for Orlando, which trailed by as many as 13 points midway through the second quarter but rallied to cut it to a 5-point deficit at the intermission, 57-52. The Magic used a 12-0 run at the start of the final period to grab an 86-80 lead with 9:20 left and pushed the advantage to 101-92 before putting the game away late.

Julius Randle was one of three Knicks to score in double-digits, leading New York with 30 points and 15 rebounds. Derrick Rose had 23 points and Kemba Walker added 10.

Orlando had three days to digest their disappointing loss to the New York Knicks in their home opener before their rematch in Madison Square Garden Sunday.

This is the first set of back-to-back games this season with the Magic traveling to South Florida to face the Miami Heat at FTX Arena Monday evening. Orlando has 15 sets of back-to-back games including later this week at Toronto (Friday) and Detroit (Saturday).

While the Magic are one of the youngest teams in the NBA with an average age of 25 years and 12 days, the challenge for first-year coach Jamahl Mosley is keeping his players fresh through the rigors of an 82-game schedule.

“In the preseason, we had some minutes and some days actually where we could prepare for this situation,” said Mosley. “We pushed the guys a little bit harder in practice, going a little harder so they understood what it was like to be in a back-to-back.

“The guys are prepared for it. They understand the minutes they’ll play, how they need to play those minutes when they’re on the floor and understand exactly what they need to do.”

Orlando has nine players who are 23 years or younger on its roster and the starting lineup on opening night against San Antonio was 21 years and 213 days. It was the youngest opening lineup of any team and the youngest since the NBA began tracking starters in 1970-71 according to Elias Sports.

Orlando’s first two games were decidedly lopsided with the Magic losing by 26 and 25 points respectively. If the matchup against the Knicks gets out of hand Mosley could dive into his bench and give some reserves more minutes.

“We’ve prepared for it and I’ll look at the minutes and the substitution patterns maybe a little differently,” Mosely said. “These guys understand like tonight is the most important night and what we need to do.”

Mosley has used a 10-man rotation throughout the first two games with starters Franz Wagner (33), Jalen Suggs (31), Anthony (30.8), and Mo Bamba (30.6) averaging more than 30 minutes. Starting forward Wendell Carter Jr. (24) and reserves Ross (25.7) and R.J Hampton (23.2) are averaging more than 20 minutes apiece.

Wagner (3) and Suggs (5) rank among the top five in minutes per game for rookies behind Indianapolis Pacers guard Chris Duarte (39.7), Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley (35.3) and Toronto Raptors guard Scottie Barnes (32.7).

Mosley sees these early moments of playing time in big games as an excellent option for a young roster.

“I look at it as a definite opportunity for these young guys to experience the league at this level, playing very good, physically tough basketball teams,” said Mosley. “This is a great experience for them to have to walk into and learn from.”

With four players on the inactive list in Jonathan Isaac (knee), Chuma Okeke (bone bruise), Michael Carter-Williams (ankle) and Markelle Fultz (knee) and Gary Harris (hamstring) and E’Twaun Moore (knee) limited, it’s been the next man up mentality for the rest of the players.

As more players return from injury, Mosley believes it won’t be an issue sharing playing time.

“The one thing I’ve said about this team, this locker room and these guys is they pull for one another,” said Mosley. “Right now, I’m focused on the guys in that locker room right now that we can put on the court and helping them grow and helping them get the best of this opportunity they have right now.”

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