Magic Rally Late, But Still Come Up Short in Nation’s Capital

Franz Wagner and Cole Anthony Each Fill Up the Box Score
by Josh Cohen

The Lead

Some of the NBA’s best players the last decade have been “point forwards.” Among them are LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, and Paul George. Wednesday’s contest between the Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards featured two of the game’s blossoming point forwards in Franz Wagner and Kyle Kuzma. Both flirted with triple-doubles, as Wagner, despite it coming in a 112-106 loss, tallied 14 points, six rebounds and a career-best 10 assists, while Kuzma registered 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Top Performers

Terrence Ross’ double-digit scoring streak is now at 10 games after posting 17 points in the nation’s capital. Starting at center because of injuries to Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr., Robin Lopez recorded 16 points and 11 rebounds against his former team. Cole Anthony, although he had an off-shooting night, came close to a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

Clutch Moments

After the Magic cut a once 20-point deficit down to five with four minutes and change left in the fourth quarter, the Wizards pushed their lead back up to nine following a pair of Montrezl Harrell dunks, including one assisted by Kuzma. Wagner and Gary Harris made shots subsequently to keep the Magic within striking distance, but a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 3-pointer, also assisted by Kuzma, with 1:27 left proved to be the dagger.

Interesting Fact

Wagner is the eighth Magic rookie (first one that’s a forward) to amass 10-plus assists in at least one game. Penny Hardaway, Chucky Atkins, Jameer Nelson, Andre Barrett, Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton and R.J. Hampton are the others.

Injury Report

Carter Jr. (hamstring), Bamba (toe), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain), and Jalen Suggs (fractured right thumb) were out for Orlando. Bradley Beal (health and safety protocols) was unavailable for Washington.

This Day in History

The most free throws ever attempted in a single game by an individual player in NBA history is 39, twice accomplished by Dwight Howard, including on Jan. 12, 2012 in a Magic victory over the Warriors. The other time he took 39 foul shots was on March 12, 2013 as an Orlando visitor during his first stint with the Lakers.

Rivals Report

Buyers or sellers? That’s the big question for the Wizards as we inch closer to the trade deadline. Washington currently sits in ninth place in the East at 21-20. What makes their situation unique is that they have a blend of veterans and young players. Do they shift their focus to developing their young talent, or do they go all in now and perhaps try to cash in on some of the assets they possess to increase their chances of securing a playoff spot and making some noise should they qualify?

Quote of the Night

“I think it’s huge. I’m walking through the lobby last night, and couple guys are out to dinner together just being around one another. That goes so far, that they want to be around each other. They enjoy being around each other, they enjoy lifting each other up and encouraging one another – not just about basketball, but off the court as well, just life. That goes a long way and that means a lot to us to grow and build in that direction.” – Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley on the entire team being together on this road trip

Up Next

From one Southeast Division opponent to another, the Magic will take on the Hornets in Charlotte on Friday at 7 p.m. This will be the third of four meetings between Orlando and Charlotte. The previous two took place at Amway Center with the Hornets prevailing in both. On Oct. 27, Miles Bridges erupted for 31 points and Gordon Hayward had 24. Anthony led Orlando with 24 points. On Nov. 24, Terry Rozier scored 27 points and LaMelo Ball recorded 22. Six Magic players scored in double figures in that contest, including Bamba, who had 18 points and 12 rebounds.

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