Wonder rookie Paolo Banchero didn’t hide the idea that the Orlando Magic had something to prove in light of Eddie House’s recent claims about their franchise.
“I’d be lying if I said we didn’t see that,” Banchero said, who led the Magic with his 31 points and six rebounds in Sunday’s win against the Boston Celtics (h/t Orlando Sentinel’s Khobi Price). “It definitely lit a fire under some of the guys and the team in general. We just want to earn the respect of the league. It’s clear that a lot of people still don’t respect us. We’re just going to have to go out, game by game, and lock in, and eventually, it’ll be earned. Until then, we’re going to have to keep proving people wrong.”
House, a former Celtic, ignited a fire against the Magic and their fans upon downplaying the team’s massive 117-109 win back in Friday, saying that Orlando is “still garbage” and “not a good basketball team”
“They got 10 wins [at the time]. They’re still garbage. They’re still not a good basketball team. They won’t make the playoffs. They won’t be in the play-in. The way the game unfolded was [the Celtics] came out complacent thinking they were head and shoulders better. Yeah, we are heads and shoulders better — the Celtics are heads and shoulders better.
“At the same time, there are proud professionals on the other side. I’m not talking about individually [that] they’re not good players, but as a team. We’re almost to Christmas. We’ve had a nice-sized sample to know exactly what you are.”
The young and exciting Magic, in an unexpected fashion, asserted their continuing momentum as they slapped the then league’s best Celtics in back-to-back games, this time marking a 95-92 Sunday win in front of the shell-shocked TD Garden.
They are now boasting a six-game win streak, tied for the current second best so far within the league.
As such, House gave credit when credit was due for the promising club’s victory, but maintained his pesty stance over the Orlando faithful upon the rants and backlash he received.
“Let’s give credit to the Orlando Magic,” House said. “They played hard. This was their Game 7s back-to-back. I’m getting hit up on Twitter, on Instagram by all of their fans like they just won the NBA championship.
“Hey Orlando Magic fans, remember, you guys have the fifth-worse record in the league. When I was growing up there was a Mickey Mouse club — they’re in the goofy club because they’re so hyped over the two wins. No matter what, with those two wins, you’re still the fifth-worst team in the NBA. And we’re still at the top of the NBA. I had to shoot my shot at them. At the end of the day, it’s all good.”
As such, following the gutsy win, the likes of Markelle Fultz, Mo Bamba, Cole Anthony, and Terrence Ross fired back of their own against the retired cager – posting a GIF clip of former Magic Rafer Alston slapping House at the back of his head during the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
“We just laughed,” Banchero added. “We took it and used it as fuel to the fire. Instant motivation.
“Sometimes you might be satisfied with that first win or be happy you won one game out of two, but seeing that clip kind of gave us that extra boost to come out here in this second game and do the same thing.”