For the first time since March 2019, the Orlando Magic are on a six-game winning streak. Paolo Banchero erupted for 31 points, two-way contract player Admiral Schofield matched his season high with 13 points and Moe Wagner knocked down two clutch free throws late, as the defensive-minded Magic once again knocked off the first-place Boston Celtics 95-92 on Sunday evening.
Banchero buried his sixth 3-pointer of the night with 3:28 remaining in the fourth quarter to put Orlando back in front. Franz Wagner, who had an otherwise quiet performance, also nailed a huge triple with 1:41 left that stretched the Magic’s lead out to four. Malcolm Brogdon kept the C’s alive with his own three with 56 seconds left. Each team came up with a steal in the final seconds before Moe Wagner sank his clutch free throws with 5.1 ticks left. Grant Williams missed a potential game-tying three right before the final buzzer.
The Magic held the Celtics to a season-low 34.8 percent shooting from the field and 25.5 percent from 3-point range. Orlando only turned it over 13 times and they had nine steals, one fewer than their season high.
The last time the Magic won six straight was in March 2019 during their late-season playoff push. In case you are wondering the last time they won at least seven in a row: it was during the 2010-11 season when they reeled off nine consecutive victories from Dec. 23, 2010 through Jan. 8, 2011.
Over his last five games, Banchero has made 14 of his 28 3-point attempts (50 percent). Prior to this stretch, he had made just 16 of his 67 tries from downtown (23.9 percent).
Quote of the Day
“Those last two stops we got is just a testament to how we’ve approached the last two weeks with our focus. Getting those last two stops just shows all the work we’ve put in the last two weeks.” - Banchero
Gary Harris (right hamstring soreness), Wendell Carter Jr. (right plantar fascia strain), Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness), and Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation) were out for the Magic. Jayson Tatum (personal reasons) and Danilo Gallinari (knee) were unavailable for the Celtics.
This Day in History
On Dec. 18, 2008, which was during the season the Magic ultimately reached the NBA Finals for the second time in franchise history, Jameer Nelson recorded 24 points, Rashard Lewis scored 15 and Dwight Howard posted 14 points and 13 rebounds in Orlando’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Tim Duncan led San Antonio with 19 points.
The Celtics are obviously great. They rank No. 1 in offense and No. 9 in defense. The question at this point is which of the other top-tier Eastern Conference teams has the best chance to beat Boston in a seven-game playoff series. Most will point to Milwaukee because of everything Giannis Antetokounmpo does. Cleveland will be a tough out. But there’s arguments to be made for both Brooklyn and Philadelphia. The Nets, since Jacque Vaughn took over as head coach, have been the second-best team in the league. The Sixers, meanwhile, have the game’s most dominant player right now in Joel Embiid.
The Magic’s four-game road trip continues in Atlanta where they will take on the Hawks for the second time in less than a week and fourth and final time this season. Tip-off is Monday at 7:30 p.m. Orlando steamrolled Atlanta in last week’s meeting at Amway Center. In that victory, they set a franchise record for most points in a quarter with 50 in the first. It was the ninth time in NBA history a team has scored 50-plus in the opening period. Franz Wagner led Orlando with 24 points, while Bol Bol scored 21 and Banchero had 20. De’Andre Hunter led the Hawks with 25 points, while Trae Young had 19 points and 16 assists.