By John Denton
July 5, 2017
ORLANDO – Held out of action on Monday and rested following a day off on Tuesday, Orlando Magic point guard Kalin Lucas wasted no time in exerting his influence on Wednesday’s Mountain Dew Orlando Pro Summer League game.
Lucas had a hand in 19 of Orlando’s first 23 points with his shooting or passing and he finished with 20 points, seven assists and three steals as the Magic whipped the New York Knicks 84-73 at the Amway Center.
Lucas, 28, has played professionally in Turkey and Greece and has been in the NBA’s Development League the past three seasons. He played like a poised veteran all day by creating shots for both himself and keeping the Knicks (0-4) off balance with his change-of-pace moves.
“I just wanted to bring it because I didn’t play (Tuesday) and I was able to rest a little bit and I wanted to go out and compete at a high level,’’ said Lucas, who made eight of 14 shots and drilled two 3-pointers. “This is really nothing new and it’s something I did in college at Michigan State with Coach (Tom) Izzo. He was confident in me, giving me the ball and letting me run the team and we had great success.’’
Lucas played so well that the Magic (2-2) even kept him on the floor at times with Monday’s starter at point guard, Derrick Walton Jr. That allowed the guards from rival schools – Walton Jr. played at Michigan and Lucas was a national runner-up at Michigan State in 2009 – to play alongside of one another in the same backcourt. Walton Jr. had nine points, four assists and two 3-pointers in 20 minutes.
“I made it well known that my last time playing against Michigan State we won by a significant margin, so I made sure that (Lucas) heard about that,’’ Walton Jr. said. “But he’s a Detroit guy and at the end of the day it’s always good to be able to relate to someone with similar size and background and overall it was a great experience.’’
Orlando’s prized prospect, 19-year-old small forward Jonathan Isaac, did not play because of a hip strain. Isaac, the No. 6 pick in the June 22 NBA Draft, suffered the injury on Monday and won’t play on Thursday either. In his three summer league games, the 6-foot-11, 210-pound Isaac averaged 10.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.7 rebounds while impressing the Magic with his fluidity, defensive awareness and quick adaptability.
Marcus Georges-Hunt chipped in 10 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals for Orlando, which will play Charlotte at 10 a.m. in final-day play of summer league action. Hassan Martin scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds and swatted two shots for the Magic, which shot 47.1 percent and drilled nine threes.
Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina, the eighth overall pick of the NBA Draft, was held out of action once again because of a knee injury. Jamel Artis led the Knicks with 13 points and three 3-pointers, while Ognjen Jaramaz made all nine of his free throws and finished with 12 points.
The Knicks, the lowest-seeded team through the five days of play, will face Miami at 8 a.m. on Thursday.
Former Gonzaga standout Przemek Karnowski joined the Magic’s summer league team following a short stint with the Charlotte Hornets earlier in the week. The 7-foot-1, 300-pound center scored 14 points, grabbed five rebounds and worked well in pick-and-roll plays with Lucas. One lowlight, however, came when he attempted a behind-the-back pass to a teammate only to have the basketball end up in the crowd.
“It was a lot of fun for me (to watch) and I was glad to have another weapon today because we wanted to win after the loss on (Monday),’’ Magic assistant coach Chad Forcier said of Karnowski after his team waived center Stephen Zimmerman a day earlier. “(Karnowski) did a great job. We came in and had a shoot-around this morning and it was all brand-new to him. We had to give him a crash course in an hour’s time and I think he picked it all up the first time and didn’t forget anything today. It was amazing.’’
Lucas, a Michigan State product who spent last season with the Magic’s D-League franchise in Erie, controlled the game in the early going and helped Orlando race to a lead as large as nine points. Lucas had 12 points, three assists and two steals in first quarter and his only missed shots came on long 3-pointers at the end of the shot clock.
In three games, Lucas has averaged 14 points and 4.0 assists while making 47.2 percent of his shots. Wednesday was his finest game of the week and he hopes it was enough to show the Magic that he is capable enough in running a team so that he will get an invite to training camp in late September.
“Right now, I could be back playing across the waters if I wanted to, but I think being here and competing I feel like I’m supposed to be here,’’ Lucas said. “I’m going to go out every single night and play and I know that the coaching staff knows exactly what they are going to get from me if I’m here with the Magic or any team.’’
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