Markelle Fultz matched his season high with 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field, Paolo Banchero scored 18 and Cole Anthony had 17, but despite rallying back from 12 down and having a chance to tie it on their final possession, the Orlando Magic dropped a 116-113 decision to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night at Footprint Center.
Wendell Carter Jr. hit a 3-pointer with 1:32 remaining in the fourth quarter to trim Orlando’s deficit to one. Chris Paul followed with a step-back jumper. After turnovers by each team, Fultz knocked down a pair of free throws for the Magic and former Magic player Terrence Ross did the same for the Suns. Then, on the final play, Josh Okogie blocked Banchero as he attempted a potential game-tying 3-pointer.
Turnovers and 3-point shooting were the biggest factors. Orlando coughed it up 19 times, which led to 17 Phoenix points. The Magic also made just eight of their 28 3-point attempts (28.6 percent). Orlando did manage to score 26 fast break points and 58 points in the paint.
Quote of the Day
“When I first got to Orlando, we had plenty of games where he would just come into the game and just hit three or four threes in a row. I don’t remember who we were playing against, but he started off the first half kind of slow and in the second half he just turnt up. I was like, ‘man, he’s one of those guys. He’s one of the best shooters in the league.’ It was just an honor to be on the same team as him.” – Carter on Ross, now a Sun after he was waived by the Magic last month
Jonathan Isaac (left adductor surgery) was out for the Magic, while Kevin Durant (left ankle sprain) and Landry Shamet (right foot soreness) were unavailable for the Suns.
This Day in History
One of Dwight Howard’s most dominant regular season performances in a Magic uniform took place on March 16, 2011 when he racked up 31 points, 21 rebounds and three blocks in an overtime win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Hedo Turkoglu scored eight of his 19 points in the extra session. Brandon Jennings, who briefly played for the Magic a few years later, led Milwaukee with 23 points.
With how well Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson have been playing in Brooklyn and with Durant currently nursing an injury, you just wonder if the Suns made a mistake with that trade deadline deal. Obviously, KD is an all-time great and future Hall of Famer, but how much time does this core of KD, Paul and Devin Booker get to win a title? If KD is healthy in the playoffs, they’ll have a chance to win it this season. But remember, Durant will be 35 in September and Paul will be 38 in May.
The Magic will complete their trip out West with a pair of games in Los Angeles, first against the Clippers on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. Orlando won the first meeting in an overtime thriller on Dec. 7 at Amway Center. That was the first of eight wins in nine games for the Magic in December. Banchero led Orlando with 23 points, including six from the free throw line in the final seven seconds of the extra session, while Moe Wagner and Bol Bol each scored 20 points.