Monday, December 5, 2022

Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic will look for a better outcome, particularly on the offensive end of the court, when they continue a five-game homestand with a matchup against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.

Orlando tipped off the regular season on Oct. 20 at the AT&T Center and the result was a 123-97 victory for the host Spurs. Devin Vassell had 19 points off the bench and was one of seven double-figure scorers for San Antonio, which has since dropped six of seven games including a 109-108 decision to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.

The Magic began their current homestand at the Amway Center — where Orlando is 0-3 this season — on Wednesday and totaled a season-low 79 points. The Boston Celtics found success with a switching defense, while Orlando’s 92-79 defeat left the Magic still searching for a two-game win streak this season.

After concluding a three-game road trip with a 115-97 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, Orlando held an opponent to under 100 points for the second straight game. But that was not enough to overcome their offensive struggles coupled with a 21-0 Boston run.

The Magic built a 46-39 lead with 3:43 to go in the second quarter, but the Celtics scored the last five points of the first half and the first 16 points of the third quarter to take control. Boston outscored Orlando 31-10 in the third period and led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter.

Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said that Boston’s switching on defense contributed to the Celtics’ game-changing run.

“(The Celtics) came out with a level of intensity and force,” Mosley said. “We had to get a little more movement, a little bit more cuts, backdoor cuts, motion. Moving around more than just playing around the perimeter, but they turned up their intensity so credit to them for that. The intensity and the aggression and the switching.”

Orlando shot 32.1 percent from the field for the game, totaled only 15 assists and shot 20.9 percent from 3-point range (9-for-43). Wendell Carter Jr. and Cole Anthony paced the Magic with 13 points apiece.

Carter also cleared a game-high 13 rebounds for his fifth double-double this season. Franz Wagner finished with nine points on 4-for-10 shooting, which ended his streak of eight consecutive games scoring in double figures.

San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray tied his season high with 23 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists against Dallas, while Vassell had 21 points and two blocks in 31 minutes off the bench. The Spurs, trailing by one point, had a long inbounds play with 2.7 seconds left but could not attempt a shot.

San Antonio’s Jakob Poeltl averaged 13.9 points and 9.7 rebounds over the Spurs’ first seven games, but the 7-foot-1 center has entered the league’s health and safety protocols. Drew Eubanks replaced Poeltl in the starting lineup against Dallas and had 10 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots.

“Nobody is going to play his position as well as he does, so it’s a difficult loss for sure,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Poeltl’s absence.

Orlando remains without injured players Jonathan Isaac (knee), Markelle Fultz (knee), Michael Carter-Williams (ankle) and E’Twaun Moore (knee). Gary Harris also missed the last two games with a left ankle sprain.

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