Three Blocks Down the Stretch Key in Win Over Cavs

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic rank No. 2 in the NBA in total blocks with 147 of them. Only the Los Angeles Lakers have more.

Orlando’s three most important rejections – so far this season – came down the stretch of Friday’s win in Cleveland.

Jonathan Isaac swatted away Tristan Thompson’s shot with 3:39 left. Evan Fournier blocked Collin Sexton’s driving layup attempt with 1:24 remaining. And Khem Birch and Aaron Gordon teamed up to reject Sexton with 53 seconds left as the second-year guard accelerated inside.

The Magic’s defense, in general, in the fourth quarter was superb. The Cavs missed 11 of their 14 shot attempts in the final six minutes. During that time, Birch had another block. That one came with a little over five minutes left as Jordan Clarkson tried a floater.

Orlando currently ranks eighth in the NBA in opponent points in the paint, interesting because that’s exactly where it ranked last season. More important and impressive, though, is that the Magic’s opponents are averaging three fewer points in the paint so far than in 2018-19.

Isaac, an early-season candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, had four blocks against the Cavs. It was the sixth time this season he has had at least that many. With 55 total so far, he currently is second in the league in this category behind the Lakers’ Anthony Davis.

Mo Bamba, who had one block on Friday, is tied for 15th in the NBA in blocks with 28 of them.

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