Despite leading by 8 with less than 90 seconds to play on Saturday, the Magic found themselves on the wrong side of the ledger when the overtime siren finally sounded, dropping a 114-110 result that will stand as one of their toughest losses of the season.
The game started at a blistering pace, with the two teams combining for 24 field goal attempts in the game’s first five minutes. Early advantages from deep (3-4) and the free-throw line (5-5) allowed the Kings to play from in front, but the Magic were able to reel them back in courtesy of Mo Bamba (8 points and 5 rebounds) and Franz Wagner (7 points courtesy of aggressive drives). However, a careless Cole Anthony turnover ignited a 7-0 Sacramento burst, the visitors pulling ahead 25-20 as the teams went to a time out with 4:41 remaining in the first.
The three-ball continued to generate feast or famine circumstances for the Magic. Anthony drilled a second chance opportunity that brought the team back within a bucket, but a fallow period that followed contributed to a 11-0 run for the Kings. The injection of Moritz Wagner was eventually able to stem the tide, the bench big man first drilling a triple and then stuffing home a vicious dunk on the next possession. It allowed the Magic to momentarily reduce the margin to 10 before one final Davion Mitchell three – the Kings’ 6th long-range make on 8 attempts – pushed it to 41-28 as the siren sounded.
M. Wagner and Markelle Fultz combined to help the Magic chip away at the deficit across the opening minutes of the second. First Fultz got a strong and-one lay-up to fall. He followed this up with a pull-up three in transition. He drove hard again on the next possession, and although the attempt rolled out M. Wagner was there to claim the rebound, which provided Fultz a second-chance that he cashed in. Wagner then earned himself a pair of free throws that capped a 10-4 Orlando spurt that brought them back within 7.
The good offensive work of the bench unit continued after the teams returned from a huddle. Fultz maintained his control over the Magic’s tempo, setting up teammates for clean looks and pushing his own personal tally to 10 for the half. However, the defense struggled to generate stops, too easily allowing paint penetration and failing to keep opponents off the offensive glass. The net result was that the margin remained largely stagnant, Orlando unable to get any closer than 4, even after F. Wagner produced 11 of the Magic’s final 14 points of the quarter via incisive drives into the painted area. That’s where the dust ultimately settled, Orlando down 66-62 at half-time.
Compared to the free-flowing nature of the first half, the third quarter was a much choppier affair for both sides. The scoring slowed down as the sides struggled with their shot-making, although the Magic were able to three times nudge ahead courtesy of the scoring and play-making of Cole Anthony and Franz Wagner. However, almost three scoreless minutes followed for the Magic, Sacramento momentarily reclaiming the ascendancy before a Terrence Ross triple from the corner again put the Magic in front. Another acrobatic finish by Fultz helped to build a bit of a cushion, Orlando eventually claiming the quarter by 7 as they went into the final frame leading 84-81.
An absolute hammer by M. Wagner over Alex Len meant that the Magic opened the fourth with some real juice, the three-point play extending their advantage to a half-dozen. Only 90 seconds later Ross threw down his own monster slam, the on-court energy now palpable. When M. Wagner knocked in his second triple of the game Orlando had their largest lead of the night, up 94-87 with a shade under nine minutes remaining.
An 8-2 Len-powered run by Sacramento brought them back within a basket, the Magic returning to the starting unit for the final five minutes. F.Wagner immediately returned to work by getting into the paint and converting, followed by Anthony and Bamba combining in the two-man game on the very next sequence for the big man’s fourth long-range make of the night and an 8 point Magic lead.
However, what should have been a defendable lead steadily dwindled. An untimely four-point possession gave the Kings a sniff, after which they drew back within a pair by again extending a possession with offensive rebounds. Davion Mitchell then pilfered Anthony’s pocket during an extended press sequence, dropping in an uncontested layup to tie the score at 105. A Chuma Okeke corner three attempt rattled out at the buzzer, sending the two sides to overtime.
Sacramento drew first blood in the extra period, the Magic struggling with turnovers and shot generation. A pair of back-to-back stops on defense gave the side a chance to recalibrate, an opportunity they took advantage of. First Okeke splashed a triple from the same spot he had missed at the end of regulation, closing a sequence that saw the ball move crisply through hands around the perimeter. On the next offensive possession, Anthony was able to find the bottom of the net on a deep step-back that put the Magic up by 3.
The Kings countered with a corner three of their own to again knot the scores, while F. Wagner couldn’t convert on the Magic’s next trip down the court. Harrison Barnes then pulled the trigger on another three from the same corner, dropping the ball through the hoop with just 12.0 seconds remaining and putting Sacramento back in the box seat. An Orlando inbounds play created an excellent look for Anthony, but the point guard’s wide-open three-point attempt didn’t come out cleanly, effectively ending the contest.
The final result was 114-110 in Sacramento’s favor, the Magic gifting too many second-chance opportunities on their way to losing a game they should have won.
Orlando’s three stars
Hockey is a pretty great sport, so I thought I would steal one of its best little touches for my own game analysis: the three stars. Here is who caught my eye tonight.
First star: Franz Wagner — saw some very makeable shots cruelly roll out in the game’s closing stages, but it shouldn’t take away from how smooth, hoe fluid, and how in control he looked on the night. 19 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block speaks to his impactful play across all facets of the game.
vet moves only— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) March 27, 2022
17 PTS for Franz Wagner pic.twitter.com/JzAiabi20b
Second star: Markelle Fultz — 16 points, 3 assists and 3 steals in just 20 minutes of court time, including 7-14 shooting from the field and multiple impressive finishes at the rim. He’s able to control the flow of the game unlike any other player on the Magic’s roster, a fact again evident tonight.
Third star: The Mo/e men — Bamba had 18 and 13 on the night, as well as a 4-6 mark from deep that should have included the dagger. Moe Wagner had an almost unbelievable 15 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in just 19 minutes, propelling the team to some of its most impressive stretches of the night.
The Magic will move onto Cleveland on Monday, a tough assignment with the Cavaliers their next opportunity to return to the winner’s circle.