For the first time all season, the Orlando Magic were favorites to win a game.
According to WynnBET, the Magic were one-point favorites to win Wednesday’s game against the LA Clippers, a team without its two superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
And through three quarters, it looked like Orlando would get its 10th win of the season and second consecutive victory. But it all unraveled in the fourth quarter. The Magic were really only able to blame themselves for it as fouling and poor shotmaking ultimately doomed the team.
The Magic are still looking for consistency. And it all starts with themselves. This time it cost them in a 111-102 loss to the Clippers at Amway Center on Wednesday.
The Orlando Magic looked to be every bit the betting favorite as they took the lead and controlled much of the first three quarters. But fouling and free throws did them in the fourth for a disheartening loss.
The Magic, who held the Clippers without a free-throw until the 4:34 mark in the third quarter, were all of a sudden fouling profusely. The Clippers were in the bonus with just less than nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Orlando committed four fouls in the first three possessions of the quarter.
That is how LA ended up making 23 of 25 free throws in the fourth quarter alone. The veteran Clippers team went on the attack and the Magic could not avoid making mistakes that only put more pressure on their struggling offense. One they were not able to break out of.
LA hit key shots throughout the fourth quarter to keep Orlando at bay. The Magic were unable to retake momentum.
It halted an otherwise encouraging effort. The Magic built as much as a 14-point lead in the first half. They were in control and playing with good pace and aggression to get to the rim and even the foul line.
The only thing keeping the Clippers in the game was their 3-point shooting. LA knocked down 51-percent of its 29 3-point attempts to Orlando’s 25-percent.
The game came down to LA capitalizing on Orlando’s youthful mistakes in the fourth quarter and Orlando’s poor 3-point shooting. The Magic needed some big baskets to find their center in the fourth and they never found it.
Franz Wagner: A
Franz Wagner played a full game. He was efficient early and throughout the game, displaying a tight handle and creating offense for himself and his teammates.
His composed style of play was evident. He led all scores with 21 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field and nailed two of his three attempts from 3-point range. At 6-foot-10, Wagner took on a point forward role for Orlando on vast stretches and dished out nine assists. The rookie had the best game of any Magic player.
Jalen Suggs: B+
Jalen Suggs came out aggressive again after playing a key role in propelling the Orlando Magic to victory Sunday against the Chicago Bulls.
The rookie was strong with his attacks to the rim. It is easy to notice his strength and solid base.
He also continues to display a good shooting stroke. He knocked down two early threes. Suggs had a solid stat line of 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. This is consistent with his averages this season and his lone year with the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Cole Anthony: B+
Cole Anthony put up good statistical numbers with 19 points, 11 assists and six rebounds, which is impressive. But the quick shooting point guard on two occasions fired up errant 3-point attempts from way behind the 3-point line. Those can be momentum killers.
He was held in check offensively in the first half with four points, but scored 15 in the second. It is a promising sign that Anthony was able to heat up. The last time he scored more than 15 points was Jan. 12 against the Washington Wizards.
Chuma Okeke: C+
Chuma Okeke’s defense was key when he first entered into the game. Early in the second he got a steal and methodically dribbled down the other end of the court for a lay up.
His defense was solid all night, but he could not get a bucket to fall down.
He missed all of his six 3-point attempts. All good looks.
Those missed threes could have helped the Orlando Magic gain and maintain momentum to pull away. They certainly hurt in a major way.
He finished with four points, three steals, two rebounds and one assist in 17 minutes. For the season, Okeke is shooting 36-percent from the field and 28-percent from three. All of his shooting numbers are down and there is reason for concern after he had a promising rookie season.
LA Clippers: A
Without a true superstar or anyone with star potential, the LA Clippers closed out the Orlando Magic. This is especially impressive considering the back-to-back the team was on and that they needed a 35-point comeback to beat the Washington Wizards the previous night.
Veteran Nicolas Batum took advantage of Orlando leaving him open in the first half, scoring all his 12 points on uncontested three-pointers. He did not score in the second, but he did not need too.
Players like Amir Coffey (19 points), Luke Kennard (17 points) and Terance Mann (14 points) all stepped up with big games.
When Los Angeles truly needed a bucket, wily old veterans like Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoe where able to shine trough. The Clippers played to its strengths and capitalized on Orlando’s weaknesses.
The Magic fall to 9-40 on the season and remain last in the Eastern Conference. Their homestand continues Friday against the Detroit Pistons.