ORLANDO – Magic Gaming’s run in THE TICKET came to an end in a heartbreaking second round series loss to Hawks Talon GC on Friday. The defeat also marked the end of Orlando’s season as it needed to take the tournament in order to earn a pass to the postseason.
Game 1: Magic Gaming point guard Brendan “Reizey” Hill led a second-half surge, posting 22 of his 28 points after halftime, but Orlando was ultimately unable to overcome a slow start in a 63-55 series opening loss to Hawks Talon GC.
Trailing by 14 through two quarters, Magic Gaming rallied, outscoring Hawks Talon GC 21-12 in the third. Brandon “ToXsiK” Raudenbush was instrumental in the comeback effort, scoring 11 of his 14 points in the second half.
However, Atlanta’s potent duo of Michael “BP” Diaz-Cruz and Andrew “MrStylez” Valle delivered enough buckets down the stretch to stave off Orlando’s rally. BP tallied 28 points and a game-high 10 assists, while MrStylez notched 14 points and three steals.
“(Stylez) had a great game tonight,” Magic Head Coach Jonah Edwards said. “He did a lot of good things to kind of irritate us and it was enough at the end of the day.”
Game 2: Despite holding a double-digit lead midway through the fourth quarter, Magic Gaming could not hold off a furious comeback effort from Hawks Talon GC in a gut-wrenching 70-67 series-ending defeat.
In the closing moments of the fourth quarter, with the game tied at 67, a driving BP found MrStylez in the corner for an open go-ahead 3-pointer with 5.3 seconds left. After a subsequent timeout, Reizey had an opportunity to force overtime, but could not get a contested triple to fall at the buzzer.
“We were more upset about the fact that we got coin-tossed on Reid’s shot the possession prior (to Atlanta’s go-ahead three),” Edwards said. “He got a full bar, which means he should have greened it, but the game didn’t give it to him, which kind of culminates our season in a lot of ways. We shouldn’t have let ourselves be in that position anyway.”
Reizey finished the contest with 28 points and 10 assists, center Daniel “DT” Tlais added 14 points, four rebounds, four assists and five steals, and Alex “Profusion” Snowden scored 10.
BP once again came through in the clutch for Atlanta, firing off 14 of his game-high 40 points in the fourth quarter. Former Magic Gaming player Mykel “Kel” Wilson put up 13 points for Hawks Talon GC, while MrStylez finished the contest with 11 points.
“BP is always going to give you a solid amount of production for sure,” Edwards said. “Stylez has stepped up huge for them. He, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated players in the league. He’s had an incredible season and deserves praise for it.”
Key Stat: After a disappointing 4-9 start to the season, Magic Gaming closed out their 2020 campaign with three straight regular season wins and one in THE TICKET before falling to Atlanta. This season, Orlando defeated Bucks Gaming, Kings Guard Gaming and Warriors Gaming Squad – all playoff teams. They also took down T-Wolves Gaming and 76ers GC, the two teams that played in last year’s Finals.
Quote to Note: “I think one of the biggest reasons for the turnaround was the reemergence of Profusion. His offense, in a lot of ways, helped us takeover games, close games and it was huge for us. As a group, you could tell we were a lot more cohesive down the stretch. We were getting along a lot better as a team, guys were more bought into the system (and) the group we had. I think those were big reasons we improved as the season went on, but at the end of the day it doesn’t mean a whole lot when you exit in this fashion. It’s too bad to go out like this, but it is nice to look back and know we did fight and did all we could to get this ship right.”