Cole Anthony (22 points, 11 assists) and Wendell Carter Jr. (17 points, 12 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles in their return to the lineup, but the Orlando Magic, despite a valiant comeback attempt, were unable to overcome the New Orleans Pelicans in a 110-104 defeat on Thursday at Amway Center.
The Magic, once down as many as 20, cut the deficit to two with just under two minutes left in the fourth quarter following a pair of Anthony buckets. Devonte’ Graham drilled a 3-pointer on New Orleans’ ensuing possession and Brandon Ingram, after another Anthony basket, knocked down a mid-range jumper with 1:13 left to extend the Pelicans’ lead to five.
Gary Harris scored a season-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting overall and 4-of-5 from 3-point range. He has now reached double figures in scoring in 10 of his last 11 games. Franz Wagner’s 17 third-quarter points were tied for the most points in a quarter by a Magic rookie since the 1996-97 season. He finished with 20 points, his seventh 20-plus-point performance so far this season.
In the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the Magic were Terrence Ross, Moe Wagner, Mo Bamba, Mychal Mulder and Ignas Brazdeikis. Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Naji Marshall were in the same situation for the Pelicans. On the injury front, Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), R.J. Hampton (COVID reconditioning), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain), and Jalen Suggs (fractured right thumb) were out for Orlando. Zion Williamson (foot), Kira Lewis (knee), and Jonas Valanciunas (non-COVD illness) were unavailable for New Orleans.
This Day in History
Dwight Howard led seven Magic players in double figures with 29 points in Orlando’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Dec. 23, 2010. Brandon Bass and J.J. Redick each scored 17 points and Gilbert Arenas, acquired by Orlando just a few days earlier from Washington, posted 14 points, six rebounds and nine assists. No Spur that night scored more than 16 points.
This was supposed to be the season New Orleans made their big climb. But the absence of Williamson, who has had a couple setbacks with his right foot injury, has prevented that from happening. Still, there are reasons to be optimistic about the Pelicans going forward, especially once Williamson returns. Ingram is having another sensational season. Valanciunas continues to be one of the league’s most underrated centers. Also, rookie Herb Jones is one of the game’s best young defenders.
Quote of the Night
“I feel fine. I wish I felt better, but I feel like my team needed me, and I feel like I was able to go out there and still give 100 percent even though the ankle still kind of sore, leg is kind of sore. But after getting evaluated by a couple different doctors, it was nothing serious. It couldn’t get any worse. So, I didn’t want to sit out too long. Just want to come back and help my team knowing we have two days off.” – Carter on his return after missing the last two games with a lower right leg muscle strain
The Magic will have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off before taking the short flight down to Miami to take on the Heat on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. This will be the third of four meetings this season between the Sunshine State rivals. They met a week ago at Amway Center, with the Heat coming out on top behind scorching shooting from Max Strus and Gabe Vincent, who combined to make 12 3-pointers and score 59 points.