Paolo Banchero recorded 26 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, Markelle Fultz scored a season-best 25 points, and Franz Wagner finished with 24, but once again the Orlando Magic were a step slow defensively as they dropped their third straight at home with Thursday’s 131-124 loss to the Utah Jazz.
After Banchero drilled one of his three fourth-quarter 3-pointers to cut Orlando’s deficit to one with 52 seconds left, Utah extended its lead back to four when fellow rookie Walker Kessler converted on a putback AND-1 with 35.3 seconds remaining. Lauri Markkanen, right after Banchero sank one of two free throws, made a floater to ice it with 10.8 seconds left.
The Jazz seized momentum early in the fourth with a 13-2 run. Simone Fontecchio scored seven of his 17 points during that stretch, while Kris Dunn had the other six.
Utah outscored Orlando 62-50 in the paint and outrebounded them 39-31. The Jazz, who led by as many as 15, shot 57.8 percent overall from the field, the fifth highest by a Magic opponent this season. Although Orlando took 10 more free throws than Utah, they made the same amount, as the Magic missed 11 of them.
Wendell Carter Jr. (left hip pain), Kevon Harris (G League – Two-Way), and Jonathan Isaac (left adductor surgery) were out. Jordan Clarkson (left hand; fourth finger sprain), Micah Potter (G League – Two-Way) and Collin Sexton (left hamstring strain) were unavailable for the Jazz.
In the Community
On Wednesday, Carter and his parents hosted a TopGolf fundraiser benefitting their A Platform2 Foundation, which aims to empower youth and families with a focus on STEM, financial literacy, African American history, social injustice, and equality awareness. The 23-year-old has done a lot in the Central Florida community since joining the Magic in March 2021. Just this season alone, he hosted and sponsored a turkey dinner distribution event with the Magic to distribute 350 Thanksgiving dinners to underserved families; hosted a holiday party for 65 local youth from the Boys to Men Mentoring organization; and encouraged and motivated local youth by “adopting” students in the STEM program at Oakridge High School.
Quote of the Day
“They’ve made it easy for me to adjust. Coaches (and) all my teammates, they make it really easy. During practices, during the games, (and) with me as well asking questions and them explaining all the stuff. It’s not that easy to adjust this quickly, but they make it easier for me. So, I think slowly but surely, I’m going to go through it and I’m going to be at one hundred percent.” – Goga Bitadze
This Day in History
On this day in 2003, Tracy McGrady erupted for 43 points and Gordan Giricek scored 21 to lead the Magic to a victory over the Denver Nuggets. Juwan Howard, who would go on to join the Magic the very next season, led Denver with 19 points.
Those two blockbuster trades from over the summer that sent Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland and Rudy Gobert to Minnesota are working out quite well for the Jazz. For one, they got Markkanen in the Mitchell deal and Kessler in the Gobert one. Making their future appear even brighter, they acquired several first round draft picks from both the Cavs and T-Wolves. And considering the major overhaul, Utah has played well for a team just starting a rebuild.
The Magic wrap up their four-game homestand on Saturday against the Miami Heat at 7 p.m. This will be the third of four meetings between the Sunshine State rivals this season, with the Heat currently holding a 2-0 series advantage. Overtime was required to decide the winner in their most recent clash on Feb. 11 at Amway Center. The Heat erased a nine-point deficit with two minutes and change left in the fourth quarter to force the extra session. Tyler Herro led Miami in scoring with 23 points, while Jimmy Butler scored 22. Markelle Fultz led six Orlando players in double figures with 17 points.