Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner (22) shoots a 3-point basket against Portland Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson (00) and forward Jabari Walker (34) during the second quarter Monday at Kia Center. [Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports]

Orlando Continues Playoff Push With Nail-biting Win Against Portland

Although the Portland Trail Blazers were just a shot away from stealing a win from Orlando, the Magic once again found a way to come out on top Monday night at Kia Center.

After Deandre Ayton’s jumper bounced off the front rim and the buzzer sounded, the Magic were one step closer to being back in the playoffs, claiming a 104-103 win.

Franz Wagner led the Magic (44-31) with 20 points and Wendell Carter Jr. added 17 with 13 rebounds, as all five Orlando starters scored in double figures.

Not According To Plan

Portland (19-56) came into Monday night having lost nine straight games, including a 60-point loss to the Miami Heat on Friday night.

However, the Trail Blazers refused to be rolled over again.

Portland forced 16 turnovers and pestered Orlando on defense, keeping Magic star Paolo Banchero to 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting.

26 points off the bench from Dalano Blanton and 20 from Ayton kept the Trail Blazers neck-and-neck with the Magic from start to finish.


Finding A Way

After a 17-point run gave Orlando its only double-digit lead, the Blazers still clawed back into the game in the fourth quarter.

Banton then hit a 3-pointer to give Portland the lead with just 5:42 remaining.

However, part of being a playoff team is being able to drag out wins in the most important moments.

Down 103-102, Orlando’s Jalen Suggs scored the clinching free throws with 1:19 on the clock.

After a strong defensive effort to hold Portland scoreless in the final minute, the Magic came out on top.

Suggs praised his team for the resilience it showed to drag out another win in a critical part of the season.

Playoff Push Continues

Orlando has not made the playoffs since the 2019-2020 season, but are set to make its return as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

With just seven games remaining, the Magic have the chance to be as high as the three seed, sitting just one game back of Cleveland and a half-game back from New York.

Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley earned his 100th career victory Monday night, but was not satisfied with the achievement.

With just a sliver of the season left, Mosley and the Magic have a chance to get closer to their standard when they take on New Orleans (45-30) on Wednesday night.

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