Franz Wagner has 29 points, Magic hold off Blazers 109-106
BY ANNE M. PETERSON
AP sports writer
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Franz Wagner scored 29 points, Wendell Carter Jr. added 20 points and 10 rebounds and the Orlando Magic defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 109-106 Tuesday night.
Wagner had 15 points in the fourth quarter alone.
“I think that’s why you play basketball, these important games, these important moments,” Wagner said.
The Magic led by 19 points in the first half, but the Blazers closed the gap in the second quarter and were up 50 points at halftime.
After trailing 82-73 early in the last quarter, Portland moved to 89-84 after Anfernee Simon’s layup. Orlando stayed ahead and went up to Wagner’s 3-pointers 104-94 with 3:35 left.
Damian Lillard’s layup with 1:32 left put Portland as close as 105-101. Gary Harris fouled Lillard on a 3-point try – and Lillard made all three free throws to draw the Blazers closer at 107-106 with 25.1 seconds left.
Markelle Fultz made free throws for Orlando and Portland missed a series of 3-point attempts in the final moments.
Lillard finished with 30 points for the Blazers, who lost their fourth straight. Portland has lost nine of their last 12 games.
“We’re just a little confused, man. I do not know what it is. I can’t say for sure,” said Blazers coach Chauncey Billups.
Paulo Banchero added 19 points for magic. They suffered a 115-101 loss in Sacramento the night before.
“I felt like we did a really good job, even if it got a little bit messy, we all made their shots hard,” Carter said.
Jerami Grant made two layups to cap a 16-1 run that erased Orlando’s first-half lead and put the Blazers at 40-36. Jusuf Nurkic’s layup and free throw separated the game at 47 and the teams went into halftime with 50 knots.
After hitting a season-low 20 points in the first quarter, the Blazers surpassed the Magic 30-17 in the second quarter. Nukic started despite battling a non-COVID illness and led all first-half scorers with 18 points, along with eight rebounds and two blocks.
The Magic opened the second half with a 15-0 run. Simons ended the goal-threatening dry spell with a 3-pointer 4:40 at halftime. Lillard’s emphatic dunk pulled Portland to 79-70 late in the third quarter.
Magic: Center Bol Bol was available after missing four games due to health and safety regulations, but he did not play. … The Magic were heading into the game 0-7 on the second night of back-to-backs. … It was the third of a five-game trip for Orlando.
Trail Blazers: Gary Payton II made his season debut against Detroit a week ago after recovering from an offseason core injury. He missed the next three games with a sprained ankle but played on Tuesday.
RETURN OF THE PORTER
Former Trail Blazers star Terry Porter, whose number hangs on the rafters of the Moda Center, has returned to the team as an alumni ambassador. He will maintain ties with other former players while the Blazers improve their alumni program, the team announced Tuesday.
Porter most recently served as the University of Portland basketball coach for five seasons through 2021. He joins fellow ambassadors Brian Grant and Bob Gross.
Magic forward Jonathan Isaac, who hasn’t played in two seasons, will play for the G-League’s Lakeland Magic as he continues his comeback from a cruciate ligament rupture. He has been training with Orlando since December.
“I mean, this is such great news,” said Magic coach Jamahl Mosley. “You’re talking about the journey he’s been on since he got hurt. To put it in perspective, tomorrow will be 892 days since he played a full game.”
Magic: In Utah on Friday night.
Trail Blazers: host Cleveland on Thursday night.
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