The NBA season kicked off on Tuesday, October 25, 2023, with a matchup between the Orlando Magic and the Houston Rockets at the Amway Center. The Magic dominated the game from start to finish, winning by a score of 123-97. Here are some of the highlights and takeaways from the game.
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The Magic’s Bench Was on Fire
One of the main reasons why the Magic won so convincingly was their strong bench play. The Magic’s reserves outscored the Rockets’ bench by a whopping 64-24 margin. Cole Anthony led the way with 25 points, six rebounds, and five assists in just 24 minutes of action. He also made five of his seven three-point attempts. Gary Harris added 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while Mo Bamba chipped in with 14 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks.
The Magic’s bench was efficient and effective, shooting 56.8% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. They also played with energy and intensity, hustling for loose balls and playing solid defense. The Rockets’ bench, on the other hand, struggled to find any rhythm or consistency. They shot only 32.7% from the field and 23.5% from three-point range. They also committed 11 turnovers and gave up 17 fast-break points.
The Rockets’ Stars Were Disappointing
The Rockets were hoping to bounce back from a dismal 22-60 record last season, but their star players did not deliver in the season opener. Jalen Green, the second overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft, had a forgettable debut with only nine points on 4-of-14 shooting. He also missed all six of his three-point attempts and had four turnovers. Christian Wood, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder last season, had a quiet night with 12 points and seven rebounds on 5-of-13 shooting. He also fouled out in the fourth quarter.
The only bright spot for the Rockets was Kevin Porter Jr., who had 22 points, six assists, and four steals. He was aggressive and confident, attacking the rim and drawing fouls. He also made four of his eight three-point attempts. However, he did not get much help from his teammates, who combined for only 75 points on 37.8% shooting.
The Magic Showed Potential and Promise
The Magic are coming off a rebuilding season, where they traded away some of their veteran players and acquired young prospects and draft picks. They finished with a 21-61 record last season, the second-worst in the league. However, they showed signs of improvement and promise in their season opener against the Rockets. They played with cohesion and chemistry, sharing the ball and moving without it. They had 34 assists on 46 made field goals, compared to only 19 assists on 34 made field goals for the Rockets.
The Magic also played with pace and purpose, pushing the tempo and scoring easy baskets in transition. They had 29 fast-break points, compared to only nine for the Rockets. They also played with passion and pride, competing on both ends of the floor and not letting up until the final buzzer. They held the Rockets to 97 points on 40% shooting, while scoring 123 points on 52.7% shooting.
The Magic have a young and talented core of players, such as Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Isaac, Franz Wagner, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr., RJ Hampton, Markelle Fultz, Chuma Okeke, and Gary Harris. They also have a new head coach in Jamahl Mosley , who has experience working with young players as an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks . If they can continue to develop and grow together, they could be a surprise team in the Eastern Conference this season.