Magic Take Control in Fourth to Beat Hornets in Jalen Suggs’ Return

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

Moe Wagner scored a season-best 26 points, rookie Jalen Suggs recorded 12 points, six rebounds and seven assists in his highly anticipated return, and the Orlando Magic used a 15-2 run to start the fourth quarter to seize momentum and eventually pull away for a 116-109 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night at Spectrum Center.

Clutch Moments

The Wagner brothers took over down the stretch. First, Franz fired a missile to older brother Moe for a layup that put Orlando up six with 5:08 left. From there, Franz’s finesse was on display, as he evaded defenders with his advanced footwork for a pair of layups. The nail in the Hornets coffin came thereafter as Moe drilled a corner 3-pointer and slammed home a dunk to push the lead to 14 with just over two minutes remaining.

Top Performers

Suggs, who missed 20 games after fracturing his right thumb on Nov. 29, sparked that early fourth-quarter run by getting into the paint and playing hard-nosed defense. For the game, the 6-foot-5 combo guard made five of his eight shots overall and one of his two 3-point attempts in a reserve role. Moe Wagner’s 26 points was the second most in his career. Franz, meanwhile, filled up the stat sheet with 19 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and one steal.

Quote of the Night

“Real good. Just to be out there and be able to have an impact – a physical impact – is great. Dive for loose balls, take charges, get up and down in transition, get guys open shots, all of that. And for us to have to a great team game from Moe, Franz, R.J. (Hampton) and our whole group when we were in that stretch (early fourth), and then of course the starting group that came back in and closed it out. They are the ones to be happy for. I’m excited. It feels good, and these are the wins we can build on.” – Suggs on his return

Injury/Health Report

Wendell Carter Jr. (hamstring), Mo Bamba (toe), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), and E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain) were out for Orlando. Kelly Oubre Jr. (health and safety protocols) and Vernon Carey Jr. (health and safety protocols) were unavailable for Charlotte.

This Day in History

On Jan. 14, 2015, Victor Oladipo erupted for 32 points, Nikola Vucevic recorded 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Channing Frye posted 15 points, five rebounds and five assists as Orlando outlasted Houston at Amway Center. James Harden led the Rockets with 26 points and 10 assists, while Dwight Howard scored 23 points.

Rivals Report

Could the Hornets end their six-year playoff drought? Right now, they sit in seventh place in the East, but are just game one back of fifth and three games back of fourth. It’s clear that their offense is more than good enough. They rank No. 2 in points, No. 3 in assists, and No. 4 in 3-pointers made. Whether they qualify for the postseason or not is probably going to come down to their defense. Currently, they have the second worst defense in the East. Only the Hawks rank lower.

Up Next

Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley will make his return to Dallas, where he was an assistant coach the last seven seasons, when his Magic take on the Mavs on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. ET. This will be Orlando’s 27th road game of the season, which is the most road games played by one team thus far. Before losing to the Knicks on Wednesday, the Mavs had won six straight and seven of eight. Over that stretch, they had the league’s No. 1 defense.

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