Wagner leads Magic past Spurs, who get 30-point second half from Vassell
After going scoreless in the first half, Vassell hit all nine of his shots in a 23-point third quarter, helping the Spurs get within 10 points after trailing by 23.
Coach Gregg Popovich spoke to Vassell at halftime and urged him to play more aggressively.
“I said: ‘Dev, I don’t want to be too pushy or anything, but if you want to go ahead and score a little bit and play a little bit better, that'd be fine,’” Popovich said.
The Magic put the game away with an 8-0 run led by Jonathan Isaac early in the fourth.
Rookie Victor Wembanyama, playing 23 minutes in the second game of a back-to-back, finished with 15 points, one rebound, three blocks and five turnovers for the Spurs, who lost their sixth straight.
“It's a new experience for him,” Popovich said. “He'll get a certain period where he'll run out of gas and then he gets it back again. Who doesn't? It's a new thing playing four games in a week.”
Vassell said he tried to make things easier for the 7-foot-4 rookie.
“Everybody has these high expectations for him and he makes these crazy plays and does crazy stuff every game, but he just turned 20. He's learning,” Vassell said. “We’ve got to help him out, too. We can’t just throw him in the fire and expect him to win the game. ... We have to make the game easier for him.”
The Magic made 16 of 27 3-pointers (59.3%) after coming into the game with the NBA's second-lowest percentage (34.4) and the fewest 3s (10.73) per game. Only the Spurs had a poorer percentage (34.1) from beyond the arc.
Wagner, who had seven rebounds and seven assists, hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, then opened the second half with another 3 and a dunk to give the Magic their 23-point lead.
After committing six turnovers in a loss at Miami, Wagner had just one in 28 minutes.
“I thought I'd try not to throw it away as much,” he said.
He made 13 of 17 shots, including 3 of 4 threes.
“I think I’m doing a better job of getting close to the basket, but any time you try to do something different there’s going to be ups and downs,” Wagner said. “I’m obviously not immune to that so I’ve just got to keep keep working at it. But the most important thing is making the right play for the team. I’m not going to get caught up too much in the other stuff.”
Orlando shot 59.8% overall, had a 39-27 rebounding advantage and had 34 assists on 49 field goals.
Spurs: Visit Brooklyn on Saturday.
Magic: Host Chicago on Saturday.
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