The Orlando Magic have a clear hierarchy in the type of field-goal attempts they want: shots near the rim, free throws and feet-set 3-pointers.
The Magic are mostly successful in these desires, being top 10 in shot frequency at the rim (10th) and free-throw rate (6th). Orlando doesn’t take many 3s.
But most modern defenses are designed to take away these shots, leaving one area of the floor open: the midrange.
The Magic aren’t shy when it comes to taking intermediate shots and they weren’t in Friday’s 116-109 road win over the Washington Wizards (34-43) at Capital One Arena.
Nearly one-third (32.2%) of their field-goal attempts come from the midrange, the 12th-highest mark in the league, including 11% (8th-highest) from “long midrange,” according to database Cleaning The Glass.
“You don’t want to take away from what the game is giving you in those moments,” coach Jamahl Mosley said ahead of Friday’s win. “Early on, you want the rim and get the 3s. As the shot clock goes down, you want to be able to take and make the midrange because that’s a lot of times what the defense has given them.
“You don’t want to kind of force the game into something it’s not giving you. You want to be able to take what the game gives you in those situations.”
While the Magic have several players who thrive on midrange shots, Cole Anthony has been particularly effective in this area recently.
His comfort in the midrange was evident when the Magic needed it most against the Wizards.
Anthony went 4 of 7 on midrange shots in the win, including making back-to-back pull-up 2s midway through the fourth as part of the Magic’s comeback.
He knocked down a catch-and-shoot 3 to give the Magic a 105-103 lead with 5:51 remaining — their first lead since being up 2-0.
The Wizards, led by Corey Kispert’s 27 points on 9 3-pointers, led by 11 to start the fourth and by as many as 16 in the third.
The Magic (33-44) didn’t relinquish the advantage, pulling out their fifth win in seven games.
Three Magic players scored at least 20 points:
- Paolo Banchero (30 points on 8-of-17 shooting, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks).
- Markelle Fultz (25 points on 11-of-15 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks).
- Franz Wagner (20 points on 8-of-14 shooting and 5 rebounds).
Anthony added 16 points (7-of-11 shooting), 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in 27 minutes off the bench.
In the Magic’s previous 30 games, Anthony made 49% on his midrange shots (75 of 152) — in the 74th percentile among point guards, according to Cleaning The Glass.
He shot 50% on short midrange (4-14 feet) and 48% on long midrange (14 feet to the 3-point line) in that span.
Nearly half of Anthony’s shots (49%) have come in the midrange over the last two months.
“It’s kind of that shot defenses are going to give me,” Anthony told the Orlando Sentinel. “If it’s a shot defenses are going to give you, it’s a shot you’re going to take.”
Anthony’s development in the short midrange, also known as the floater range, has been important.
Over one-third of his field-goal attempts (35%) have come in that area, giving him a counter to when defenses run him off the 3-point line and take away the rim.
He’s shooting 46% on short midrange shots after shooting 40% and 33% in the previous two seasons.
“It’s what the game is giving him in those moments,” Mosley said. “A lot of teams are running him off the 3-point line. If he’s not able to get all the way to the basket, he’s recognizing being down the floor so he’s able to step into his shot with a level of confidence in that area and knock it down.”
Wizards guard Bradley Beal (left knee soreness), forward Kyle Kuzma (sprained right ankle) and big man Kristaps Porziņģis (Non-COVID-19 illness) sat out Friday’s game.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.
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