NBA: Magic look to stay on path to postseason when visiting Spurs
The Orlando Magic will look to keep their fleeting postseason hopes alive and sweep the season series with San Antonio when they battle the Spurs on Tuesday in the Alamo City.
The Magic are just 3 1/2 games out of a spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference play-in tournament with 14 regular-season games left to play. Orlando beat Miami 126-114 in overtime at home on Saturday to snap a three-game skid that had sent the Magic to 13th place in the East.
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Wendell Carter Jr. recorded a double-double of 27 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Miami, which avenged a loss in overtime to the Heat on Feb. 11. Like the previous loss to the Miami, Orlando gave up a big lead in the fourth quarter but on Saturday the Magic responded, hitting seven of their nine shots from the floor in the extra session.
“I’m proud of the fact that we were in the exact same scenario the last time we played Miami and (this time) we didn’t fold,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “We gained and learned from the experience from last time, and that shows the growth of a young team.”
Paolo Banchero added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Magic while Franz Wagner also had 17 points, Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony hit for 16 points each, Markelle Fultz scored 12 points and Gary Harris rang up 11.
Despite their youthful lineup, the Magic has the moxie to make some noise down the stretch. All but two of Orlando’s remaining games are against teams fighting for a playoff spot or positioning in the postseason.
“That’s the great part about the experience for a young team is you have to go through it,” Mosley said. “You have to look at the scenario and see what can we do differently. Where can we improve? And they showed that (in the win over Miami).”
Tuesday’s game will be the third of a season-long six-game homestand for San Antonio that has begun with mixed results — a win against West-leading Denver on Friday and a loss to short-handed Oklahoma City on Sunday.
The latter, a 102-90 setback to the Thunder, was played without starters Keldon Johnson, Jeremy Sochan and Tre Jones, who missed the game because of injury or illness.
All three are expected back for the dustup against the Magic.
Zach Collins led San Antonio in Sunday’s loss with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Devonte’ Graham hit for 20 points, Keita Bates-Diop tallied 12 and Doug McDermott had 11 points.
The Spurs were down by as many as 17 points early in the second quarter, rallied to tie the game in the third period but could not sustain the momentum in losing for the third time in their past four outings.
“Not a great offensive show by either team except Oklahoma City got to the rim a lot more than we did, especially at the start of the game,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “We’re not built to spot people 10 points like we did in the first quarter, and then you turn it over 19 times and you’re probably going to be in trouble.”
–Field Level Media
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