ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The Phoenix Suns, despite recent injuries, put strong pressure on the Orlando Magic on Orlando’s own turf Tuesday night.
The Suns began the scoring early, leading the Magic by as much as 14-4 early in the first quarter. Wendell Carter, Jr. consequently put the scoring on his back for Orlando and closed the gap, contributing 11 points and seven rebounds, going five for seven on field goals.
Deandre Ayton led the Suns with a double double in the first half, contributing 15 points and 10 rebounds.
A foul on Terrence Ross as he attempted a three-pointed helped closed the gap as well, with Ross nailing all three free throws.
Phoenix dominated Orlando in nearly every respect in the first half, clocking 40.4 percent on field goals to Orlando’s 35.4 percent, 37.5 percent on threes to Orlando’s ailing 18.2 percent, and nabbed 32 total rebounds compared to Orlando’s 28.
The Magic lagged by ten at halftime, 53-43.
The Magic still struggled in the third quarter with Phoenix’s speed and defense.
On the plus side for Orlando, Carter got his seventh straight double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds at the end of the third quarter. He leads the team with 29 on the season.
By fourth quarter, the Suns were leading by nine 93-84 (with less than six minutes remaining in the game). Cameron Payne was the second Suns player with double doubles on the night, contributing 16 points and 11 assists. Landry Shamet led the Suns in scoring by fourth quarter with 18 points (6-11 on field goals, 6-9 on threes).
With less than four minutes left in the game, when the Magic lagged by nine, Mo Bamba and Cole Anthony closed the gap with a dunk and two consecutive shots respectively to tie the score at 93, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Anthony undid his hard work by fowling Shamet, though, who went to the line for three free throws, making two of them.
RJ Hampton answered with a fast break and running layup, shrinking the lead by one. Wendell Carter switched the lead to the Magic by one point with two successful free throws, but the Suns nailed a field goal, making the score 98-97. It became a dance of the one-point lead.
After an exchange of fouls and timeouts between both teams to freeze the clock, the Magic couldn’t quite cement their late rally, falling to the Suns 102-99.
Orlando’s Markelle Fultz spoke with the media about the team’s performance postgame:
The Magic next host the Minnesota Timberwolves at Amway Center Friday at 7pm.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org