Magic flip script in 2nd half to tie up playoff series with Cavs

Jalen Suggs doesn’t know much German but he does know enough to describe what Franz Wagner did on the court against the Cavaliers during Saturday’s crucial Game 4 at Kia Center.

“Kochen, huh, Boog?” the Magic guard asked his teammate in the locker room after Orlando tied the series at 2-2 in dominant fashion 112-89 over Cleveland.

“Kochen,” replied Wagner, whose nickname “Boogie” goes back to his college days at the University of Michigan.

The German word translates directly to “cooking,” which puts into the words the special way Wagner performed for the Magic in what was essentially must-win matchup against the visiting Cavs, who led 2-1 entering the fourth meeting.

Wagner sliced and diced Cleveland’s defense, piecing together a 34-point and 13-rebound performance that lifted the Magic to their second straight win in the first-round playoff series between the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds in the East.

His 34-point showing follows Banchero’s 31 in Game 3. The last time Orlando had different players with consecutive 30-point games was May 19-21, 1996, vs. Chicago (Penny Hardaway 38, Shaquille O’Neal 36).

Wagner’s older brother, Moe, who contributed copious amounts of energy on both ends off the bench, was hesitant to give praise to Franz only because that’s what older brothers do.

It’s tough love between the two who are separated by five years in age.

But even he couldn’t resist when grinning ear to ear and beaming with pride.

“I’ve got to drive home with him, so I’m going to keep it in check. I’m not going to exaggerate here but that was one of the best games I’ve seen him play,” the older Wagner said.

“His awareness, his control of the game is just great,” Moe added. “He started off great distributing the ball and let the game come to him. He played with great energy.”

The Magic’s next trick will be finding a way to replicate their home performances on the road, where Orlando lost the first two games of the series at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Teams that win Game 5 of a 2-2 best-of-seven playoff series go on to win the series roughly 82% of the time.

“By doing exactly what we’ve been doing,” said Suggs when asked how Orlando can carry its energy over to Cleveland. “Staying together, continuing to have fun, continue to do it for the next man and naturally it will carry.”

It wasn’t all funs and games for the Magic on Saturday.

Trailing the Cavs by 9 at the break, Orlando stormed all the way back to take their first lead since midway through the first quarter when Franz Wagner sank a free throw to put his team ahead 68-67 less than five minutes into the third frame.

From there on, the Magic continued to pour it on, ending the third quarter on a 31-5 run and completely flipping the script of the contest.

As easy as the points came for the Magic in the second half — Orlando outscored Cleveland 61-29 in the second half — Saturday’s contest didn’t start out that way.

After 9 points in the opening frame, the younger Wagner was limited to just 2 in the second quarter. He was the lone member of the Magic in double figures at halftime when Banchero had just 5 points with 4 turnovers before the break.

In fact, the Magic failed to take care of the ball, turning it over 11 times by halftime.

But once Wagner was able to find another gear on offense in the third frame, it was hard for Cleveland to slow him down as he attacked the basket with success and didn’t miss a free throw.

“In the second half we did a better job of taking care of the ball and eliminating their easy points in transition,” he said. “Everybody was really locked in.”

With the win, Orlando earned another home playoff contest Friday in Game 6. Tip-off time and network information is still to be determined.

It also secures the Magic a chance to win the best-of-seven series in Orlando if the Magic can handle their business during Tuesday’s Game 5 in Cleveland.

“We’re not satisfied at all,” Franz Wagner said. “We just got two wins. We need two more against them, so we’ve got to stay locked in and hopefully get the next game in Cleveland.”

Jason Beede can be reached at