Magic embraces home stretch of season with game hopes intact – The Denver Post
The Orlando Magic are playing for something more meaningful and tangible in the final stretch of the season than they have in the previous two campaigns.
After Tuesday’s 122-112 win over the Washington Wizards at the Amway Center, the Magic (30-43) is still in contention for a spot in the play-in tournament.
Their chances of qualifying for the play-in look slim with nine games remaining before Thursday’s home game against the New York Knicks.
They entered Wednesday 5 games behind the Chicago Bulls for the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference standings. Seeds 7 through 10 from each conference face off in the Qualifying Tournament for the No. 7 and 8 seeds in the playoffs.
But still being eligible and having the opportunity to compete for the playoffs motivates the Magic, which had already been knocked out of the playoffs by this time in the previous two seasons.
“I think for a young team it helps,” said big man Moe Wagner, “because the long-term road sometimes seems so far away that sometimes it’s hard to get up in the morning if you’re working for something. which seems to be broken down the road.
“These short-term goals help us [stay motivated], staying locked in day to day and connecting even more than we would if we were playing for something next year. With that in mind and really warning the league that the Orlando Magic are doing something and going into the [right] direction, it means a lot to these guys.
Playing in meaningful games over time has helped the Magic develop in clutch situations.
They are 14-11 in their last 25 games that featured clutch situations – when the scoring margin is 5 points or less with five minutes or less left. Orlando started the season 3-12 in games that had clutch minutes.
“For us this season, there’s been a lot of growth this season and we’ve actually had a lot of tight games,” goaltender Cole Anthony said. “We lost to some, but we learned from that this season and we were able to improve.
“It’s something we did [Tuesday]. We were able to run the stretch and that’s what ultimately helped us win this game. The more we get into these tight matches, the more I feel like we are improving.
Second-year guard Jalen Suggs will not be available against the Knicks for the fourth straight game due to a concussion.
The Magic will induct Dennis Scott into the organization’s Hall of Fame on Thursday afternoon at the Amway Center. Scott will become the 12th member of the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame.
Scott will be honored in Thursday’s game, which begins at 7 p.m.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Prize to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.