Magic Gaming’s Achilles’ heel in the early portion of the season has been closing out games when they have slim leads down the stretch.
This flaw came back to bite them again in the Round of 16 of THE TURN, one of three tournaments held throughout the NBA 2K League season, as the Magic squandered a seven-point lead when the fourth quarter began in their 52-47 loss to Kings Guard Gaming on Friday in Las Vegas.
Sacramento’s Jhade “worthingcolt” Black connected on a go-ahead layup with 1:19 remaining in the fourth, a period in which the Magic only mustered up five points. Magic Gaming had two opportunities to reclaim the lead on their ensuing possession thanks to an offensive rebound by Tucker “TuckerLocksUp” Henry, but were unable to convert. Zachary “Zakky610” Saruba buried a 3-point dagger subsequently with 31 seconds left for the Kings, the No. 5 seed in this three-day, single-elimination competition.
Although clearly disappointed about falling short of the quarterfinals in this tournament, the Magic remain confident that their late-game struggles in tight games can and will be fixed.
“A lot of times it’s let the man ahead of you make the play, you don’t always have to be a hero,” Magic Gaming Head Coach Jonah Edwards said about the message he will relay to his team about how to handle pressure situations. “It’s more about trust in a team and making sure we’re all confident that everyone sitting next to them can go make that play to win the game.”
The Magic now return to Orlando to gear up for their next block of regular season games, which resumes on Wednesday when they face Pistons GT at 6 p.m.
Fresh off his stellar 23-point, 12-assist performance in the Magic’s play-in contest against Wizards District Gaming, 2019 first round draft pick Brendan “Reizey” Hill had another solid night, finishing with 15 points and nine assists. His counterpart, fellow rookie Michael “BP” Diaz, posted 16 points and six assists for the Kings, who shot just 46.5 percent from the field largely because of the Magic’s stout defense.
“I can’t say enough about Reizey, I think to me he is the best rookie in the league,” Edwards said. “He’s excellent, he’s a leader, steps up, he calls plays, he’s been executing on offense, he does a great job getting everyone involved, talks to everybody. He really does the job almost for everybody at times. He’s playing excellent. To me, this game really couldn’t be less on him, which stinks because he did play well again.”
TuckerLocksUp logged a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, while Emmanuel “UCMANNY” Cruz also scored 10 for the Magic, who made a shade over 46 percent of their shots.
Yusuf “Yusuf_Scarbs” Abdulla, who knocked down a critical 3-pointer with 3:10 remaining, and worthingcolt each scored in double figures for the Kings.