ORLANDO – Playing against two of the top teams in the standings, including last year’s champs, Magic Gaming got a chance to show the rest of the league this week what they are capable of when they play to their strengths. A 2-2 finish, while not ideal, kept them very much in the thick of the playoff race, which is definitely encouraging as they now prepare for THE TURN.
Game 1: Magic Gaming takes pride in being an elite defensive team. Having that mindset paid dividends in the opener.
Wizards District Gaming, winners of nine straight coming into this contest, was unable to get into any sort of rhythm thanks to stifling defense by Orlando, which pulled away late for a 76-61 victory.
While their defense kept them in control throughout, the Magic’s scorching hot 3-point shooting also was a major factor. Orlando buried 14 of its 23 attempts from downtown, with Brendan “Reizey” Hill knocking down eight triples and Justin “Snubby” Stemerman making four of them.
Reizey has had many great performances throughout his NBA 2K League career, which started in 2019 after Magic Gaming drafted him in the first round that year. Quite possibly, his best game to date came in this contest as he scored 30 points and committed just one turnover.
“I think undoubtedly (it was) his best game for Magic Gaming,” Edwards said. “He was in complete control on both sides. When you’re not turning the ball over against the Wizards, you’re in such a good place.”
Snubby also had a terrific game with 20 points. Robert “May” May registered 12 points and 10 rebounds and Josue “FutureClutch” Acosta Gomez chipped in with 10 points.
The Magic held the Wizards to just 53 percent shooting overall and 34 percent from beyond the arc. John “JBM” Mascone led Washington with 27 points, but he only made 11 of his 25 shots and five of his 15 3-point tries.
“We went in defensively knowing that if JBM was to take a lot of shots and we limited their off-ball players that we were going to have a really good game and he ended up taking twenty-five shots and we won by fifteen,” Snubby said.
Orlando closed the game on a 19-6 run.
Game 2: For the first time in quite a while, Magic Gaming was on the losing end of a blowout. Wizards District Gaming seized momentum in the second quarter and never looked back in their 75-57 victory.
All five Washington players scored in double figures, led by JBM who posted 19. Manuel “Newdini” Newman, held in check in the opener, got hot in this contest, making four triples and finishing with 17 points.
Reizey and May each tallied 15 points for the Magic, who were outscored by 10 in the second quarter and 12 in the third.
Unlike the first game when Orlando denied JBM from making kickout passes to the corners or finding Ryan “Dayfri” Conger in the paint consistently on rolls inside, in this contest the Wizards were able to play more methodical and share the ball to create more open shots.
“In general, they got to us,” Edwards said. “They dictate the pace in a lot of their games and in some games they are going to be able to get an early lead. They are going to be more aggressive defensively. They are going to force more turnovers. They are going to play more confident. The biggest difference between those two games was really the scoring from the group on their end. The game plan was to make JBM score a lot and take a lot of shots and that’s not really when he’s at his best. He can do it and he can win that way but it’s not his best. We know that about him and obviously we tried to force him to be that guy.”
Quote of the Night
“This was definitely our toughest week of the season, playing two of the top teams in the East. Going two-and-two is always a little bittersweet, but I think we definitely did a lot better than most people expected. I think we can carry some momentum going into THE TURN knowing we can beat just about anyone.” – Snubby
All 23 teams will participate in THE TURN this upcoming week. Matchups will be played in a best-of-three series, single elimination format, with the winner of each series advancing to the next round. Seeding for the tournament will be determined by each team’s regular-season winning percentage. Teams seeded 10-23 will compete on Wednesday, July 14 to earn the right to advance into the 16-team bracket with teams seeded 1-9 on Thursday, July 15.