Franz Wagner recorded 29 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, Wendell Carter Jr. and Paolo Banchero each notched double-doubles, and Markelle Fultz scored 18, including a pair of crucial free throws in the closing moments, as the Orlando Magic held off the Portland Trail Blazers for a thrilling 109-106 victory on Tuesday at the Moda Center.
Just under the five-minute mark, Wagner connected on three straight shots, including a 3-pointer that extended Orlando’s lead to 10. The Blazers, as they did all night, rallied and had their deficit down to one before Fultz’s pair of clutch foul shots with 22 seconds left. Portland had a chance to tie it in the final seconds – not once, not twice, but three times after coming up with a pair of offensive rebounds – but Jerami Grant, Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons each missed their 3-point attempts.
Unlike Monday when the Kings sank a franchise-record 23 3-pointers, the Blazers were cold all night from distance, making just six of their 35 attempts. Holding opponents to substandard 3-point percentages is not unusual for the Magic. They are tied for sixth in opponent 3-point percentage and are first in contesting 3-point shots.
Even though the game was tied at halftime at 50 and Portland was within one with less than 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Orlando never trailed and led by as many as 19. They also opened the second half with 15 unanswered points.
In the News
Jonathan Isaac was assigned to Lakeland on Tuesday and will suit up for the Magic’s G League affiliate on Wednesday when they play the Westchester Knicks at 7 p.m. at the RP Funding Center. The 6-foot-10, 230-pound forward missed both the entire 2020-21 and 21-22 seasons due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that was suffered on Aug. 2, 2020 against the Sacramento Kings during the NBA restart at Disney. While rehabbing at the end of last season, the 25-year-old suffered a minor right hamstring injury and underwent a small surgical procedure.
Quote of the Day
“I’m so excited for him. That is such great news. When you talk about the journey he’s been on since getting hurt, to put it in perspective it (will be) 892 games tomorrow since he’s played in a full game…He’s that example of what it takes to work to get back. He’s never wavered, understanding how strong his faith is and understanding the process of what he had to do in order to get back on the floor. So that’s what makes us so proud of what he’s done and been able to do to get back on the court.” – Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley on Isaac taking another big step in his journey back
Chuma Okeke (left knee) was out for the Magic. Bol Bol was with the team in Portland, but Mosley opted to give him a few more days to recondition after missing the last several games while in health and safety protocols. Isaac, R.J. Hampton and Kevon Harris are with Lakeland. Nassir Little (hip) and Justise Winslow (ankle) were unavailable for the Blazers.
This Day in History
On Jan. 10, 1994, Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway each scored 28 points and Nick Anderson, Scott Skiles and Donald Royal each had 16, as the Magic defeated the eventual NBA champion Houston Rockets. Hakeem Olajuwon led Houston in that contest with 26 points, while Robert Horry scored 15 and Kenny Smith had 12 to go along with eight assists.
The Blazers started the year 10-4. They also had a 6-2 stretch in early December. Outside of that, they’ve really struggled, especially on the road. They’ve won just one of their last nine away games. But, writing them off would probably be a mistake. For one, entering Tuesday’s action, they were just three games back of fourth place in the West. Their defense is about equal to what it was in 2019 when they reached the conference finals. Simons has blossomed into a legit star; Grant is superb on both sides of the ball; and of course, Damian Lillard can carry his team on his back if necessary.
The Magic’s five-game West Coast road trip continues Friday when they visit the Utah Jazz at 9 p.m. ET. This will be the first of their two meetings this season, with the other taking place on March 9 at Amway Center. The Jazz have cooled off after a sizzling start. Entering Tuesday's action, they had lost seven of their last eight games, including Sunday in Memphis. In that defeat, Lauri Markkanen, one of the top candidates for the Most Improved Player Award, led seven Utah players in double figures with 21 points, while Kelly Olynyk scored 19 and Jordan Clarkson had 17.