The Orlando Magic clinched a convincing 113-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. This win was notably anchored by Paolo Banchero's impressive 26-point contribution. However, the real story unfolded in the game's final quarter, showcasing a strategic masterclass by the Magic's defense.
The Phoenix Suns, led by Devin Booker's 44 points, experienced a severe offensive drought in the fourth quarter. Notably, Booker, who had recently scored a staggering 62 points in a loss at Indiana, was restricted to a mere two points in the last quarter.
The Suns' offense crumbled, managing only four points in the final 10 minutes. Orlando's lineup, boasting the towering presence of Banchero, Franz Wagner, Moritz Wagner, and Jonathan Isaac, all standing over 6-10, played a pivotal role in this defensive lockdown.
Key Players and Moments
Beyond Banchero's offensive efforts, the Magic's game plan featured several standout performances. Moritz Wagner came off the bench to deliver a crucial double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in just 23 minutes.
His impact was not lost on Magic coach Jamahl Mosley, who praised Wagner's role in securing extra possessions and stifling the Suns' elite scoring abilities. For the Suns, despite the loss, Booker's performance remained a bright spot.
Shooting 17 of 26 from the field and sinking 9 of 11 free throws, Booker maintained his impressive scoring average. However, the Magic's physical play, especially in the fourth quarter, proved too much for the Suns' star. The game also witnessed a rare off-night for Kevin Durant, who, limited to 12 shots, contributed 15 points alongside seven turnovers.
Reflecting on his performance, Durant expressed disappointment, acknowledging his role in setting a negative precedent that affected the entire team. In a game that began with the Suns taking a 13-point lead, the Magic's comeback was a testament to their strategic execution.
A pivotal moment came with Franz Wagner's 3-pointer, putting the Magic ahead just as Booker re-entered the game. This was followed by another critical 3-pointer from Isaac, pushing the lead to 104-94 and effectively sealing the victory.
Despite shooting 56% overall, the Suns' strategy faltered, taking 18 fewer three-pointers than their season average. This shift in tactics was attributed to the Magic's defensive pressure, forcing Phoenix into tough, contested shots. The absence of Phoenix center Jusuf Nurkic, sidelined by a sprained thumb, further complicated the Suns' game plan.