Determined to prove they are much more talented than their seed suggests, Magic Gaming was eager to make a big statement in their play-in contest of THE TURN, the second of three tournaments held throughout the NBA 2K League season.
Against winless Wizards District Gaming, the No. 12 seeded Magic jumped out to a big lead early and cruised to a 79-55 victory on Thursday in Las Vegas at the HyperX Esports Arena, the site of the three-day, single-elimination competition.
Although the Magic have recorded several big wins over the first several weeks of the season and despite being very competitive in their narrow losses against some of the league’s premier teams, their thrashing of the Wizards was by far their most complete performance of the year.
“We have been talking about it for weeks, it seems like one game we have great D, the next game we have great offense, and finally we were able to combine the two,” Magic Gaming Head Coach Jonah Edwards said. “I think we proved today that we’re as good as anybody in this league. I think that moving forward in the first round, we are one of the tougher matchups going in.”
Brendan “Reizey” Hill, one of the league’s leaders in assists, had his best game to date, tallying 23 points and 12 dimes, two shy of his career high. The native of Tyler, Texas shot 8-of-13 from the field and 5-of-9 from 3-point range.
Magic Gaming’s first round pick in the 2019 draft wasn’t the only one playing up to their potential, however. Tucker “TuckerLocksUp” Henry amassed 18 points and nine rebounds, while Daniel “DT” Tlais posted 17 points and nine boards. Emmanuel “UCMANNY” Cruz, meanwhile, scored 14.
Their defensive pressure and intensity, which is the true identity of this team, was a big factor in holding the Wizards to only 18 first-half points. UCMANNY, who some have argued is the best lockdown defender in the league, and Mykel “KelMav” Wilson racked up three steals each throughout the game, while DT and TuckerLocksUp each had two blocks.
Washington’s Johnathon “Demon JT” Fields, whom the Wizards selected in the first round of last year’s draft and retained for their second season, didn’t make a single shot and finished with just one point.
“These guys they get along and it was a complete performance,” a proud Edwards said about his squad. “Everyone played their role as well as they could and that’s why we were able to open the game up the way we did.”
Incredibly efficient from both inside and outside the arc, the Magic displayed excellent ball movement and continuity. They shot 68.8 percent overall and 61.1 percent from downtown, both well above their season averages.
Their hard work and devotion at their practice studio in Orlando is clearly paying off, as is the team’s chemistry and patience. Even though their spot in the standings required them to participate in the play-in portion of the tournament, something that Edwards and his team didn’t necessarily mind, their confidence was sky-high heading to Vegas.
“We knew that we were the last team that any of those top seeds wanted to see if we made it out of the play-in game,” Edwards said. “We were actually kind of happy we had a play-in game. I know that seems kind of crazy, but our draw was better. What I’ve been saying all week is the Wizards are the toughest game of our tournament. I said if we can get going I think we’re going to be confident moving forward and really be able to pull off a run the rest of the tournament.”
The Magic now await word on who they will face in the next round of the tournament on Friday.