Advertisement

Beede’s Breakdown: How Magic overcame Paolo Banchero’s absence to blow out Brooklyn

On a night without Paolo Banchero (illness) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee strain), the Magic did their best to make it look like those two weren’t missing Tuesday against the Nets.

Orlando shot 52.7% from the field and limited Brooklyn (22-36) to 39.2% while improving to 15-1 this season when shooting 50% or better in a 108-81 victory at Kia Center.

Brooklyn’s 81 points marked a season-low for the Nets (playing on the second night of a back-to-back) and for a Magic opponent. The 81 points also were the third-fewest scored by any team in the NBA this season.

Franz Wagner (21 points) led the way for the Magic (33-26), who moved to 14-1 when allowing less than 100.

With the win, Orlando denied Brooklyn from clinching the regular-season series, which the Nets still lead 2-1. The Magic host the Nets in the fourth and final matchup March 13.

Orlando returns to Kia Center on Thursday for a meeting with the Jazz, a team they haven’t faced since fifth game of the season (Bally Sports Florida, 7).

3s Galore

To make up for the absence of Banchero’s scoring (team-high 22.7 points), coach Jamahl Mosley put an emphasis pregame on moving the ball to create open long-range shots.

It’s part of the reason he inserted Caleb Houstan (3 of 4 from 3 for 9 points) in the starting lineup alongside Gary Harris (2 of 4 from 3 for 8) to help spread the floor from the jump.

Orlando’s first seven shots were 3s. It wasn’t until a drive from Wagner at 7:40 of the first quarter that the Magic attempted a shot inside the arc.

The ball was moving early (8 assists in the first quarter) and that continued throughout. The Magic improved to 25-11 when having more (or same) assists than their opponent (20-18 vs. Nets).

Ultimately, the Magic took 25 shots from distance (made 9 for 36%), which is a solid number for the group.

The team entered 4-16 when attempting more than 35 from 3.

Focus on Franz

Wagner took over offensively in the second quarter when he ripped off 8 straight points to score 13 in the frame.

The Magic forward attacked downhill and forced his way into the paint where he went 7 of 8. At least twice he spun around his defender to finish with a reverse layup.

“He just continued to make the right play,” Mosley said. “Just his level of confidence, knowing what he’s capable of doing and the guys trusting knowing what he can do.”

His consistent push near the rim was part of a large effort from the Magic to dominate in the paint. Orlando outscored Brooklyn 56-42 there.

It marked the 26th time that Wagner scored 20 or more points this season.

Bench Points

Orlando’s reserves outscored Brooklyn’s 51-40 as Markelle Fultz came off the bench for the second game in a row.

Fultz and Cole Anthony each scored 12 but in different ways. The majority of Fultz’s points came around the basket (5 of 9) while half of Anthony’s points came from beyond the arc (2 of 3 from 3).

Meanwhile, Moe Wagner (16 points) led the bench in scoring by regularly cutting to the basket. He added a steal in the second quarter off Mikal Bridges, who Orlando often blitzed, that led to a transition dunk.

Rookie Anthony Black provided a boost on defense, recording 3 steals to go with 8 points. He and Anthony combined for 6 of the team’s 14 steals.

Free Points

The Magic haven’t been a good free-throw shooting team most of the season. They entered Tuesday’s contest shooting 75.3% from the charity stripe, which ranked 28th league-wide.

Against the Nets, however, Orlando cashed in free opportunities.

It was perfect (9 of 9) in the first half and finished 21 of 25 (84%) at the line. In comparison, Brooklyn shot 11 of 14 (78.6%).

The Magic improved to 21-15 when attempting more (or same) free throws than their opponent.

Email Jason Beede at jbeede@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on X, known as Twitter, at @therealBeede.