Franz Wagner explodes for 34 points, as Magic tie up series against Cavaliers

ORLANDO, Fla. — Franz Wagner produced a playoff-career-high 34 points to lead the Orlando Magic to a 112-89 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 of their first-round series.

Jonathan Isaac connected on a season-high four 3-pointers off the bench, finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Jalen Suggs and Markelle Fultz each scored 12 points and Moe Wagner added seven points and four rebounds.

Franz Wagner added 13 rebounds, four assists and one blocked shot on Saturday, as the Magic tied the series with the Cavaliers at two games apiece. He scored 23 points alone in the second half.

“He was incredible,” his brother, Moe, said. “His awareness and control of the game were just great. He started off great distributing the ball and let the game come to him. He played with great energy and was locking up defensively. I gotta drive home with him, so I want to keep it in check: I’m not going to exaggerate here, but it was one of the best games I’ve seen him play.”

The Magic trailed the Cavaliers by nine points at halftime after allowing them to shoot 56.4% from the field. They were outscored 40-26 in points in the paint and handed the Cavaliers 12 points off of 11 turnovers in the first half.

The team regrouped and went on a run after halftime.

Orlando outscored Cleveland 37-10 in the third quarter to take an 18-point lead into the final frame. The defensive stand continued from there after the Magic limited the Cavaliers to 19 points in the fourth quarter, resulting in a 61-29 advantage in the second half.

The Magic set a franchise playoff record for the most points scored in a third quarter and they also tied another for the fewest points allowed in a second half. The dominant second half gave the Magic consecutive playoff wins for the first time since 2010.

“I thought we played well in the first half, we just had a couple of turnovers,” Franz Wagner said. “I thought it was on the first five to kind of set the tone for the half and be aggressive and make the right plays.”

Said Moe Wagner: “I think we played a great defensive first half as we have been the first three games, as well. We just threw the ball away too much; the turnovers killed us. It is hard to guard the transition offense and win playoff games when you have 11 turnovers. I think we did a great job defensively and we just had to pick it up offensively and we did that.”

The Magic, who were led with 31 points and 14 rebounds from Paolo Banchero in Game 3, had two different players score at least 30 points in consecutive playoff games for the first time since May 19-21, 1996 (Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal).

Franz Wagner became the second-youngest player (22 years, 244 days) in franchise history with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in a playoff game, trailing only Banchero. Like Banchero, Wagner also finished with no turnovers in 39 minutes.

“They’re extremely special,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “The beauty of two stars that can play off each other and celebrate the other star: That is a beautiful thing. When you can watch that unfold in real time and watch each guy celebrate the man next to him, I thought it was fantastic.”

After losing the first two games in Cleveland, the Magic returned to Orlando and took the next two to even the series. The two wins came after the Cavaliers defeated the Magic by a combined 24 points and held them to 36.2% shooting from the field.

The two teams will now turn to Game 5 on Tuesday in Cleveland. The group that can win two more games will move on to face the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics, and the Magic believe they now have all of the momentum after winning on their home court.

“To go down 0-2 early with them, it kind of put everything on the line for us in Game 3 and again in Game 4,” Isaac said. “I feel like we’re in the best position out of the two teams right now. They’re going home thinking, ‘We have to take care of home court,’ so I think the momentum is in our favor.”

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire