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Magic stave off fourth-quarter rally and topple Spurs

Jonathan Isaac Orlando Magic Jonathan Isaac - The Canadian Press

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Paolo Banchero scored 25 points, Franz Wagner added 20 and the Orlando Magic held on to beat the San Antonio Spurs 108-98 on Wednesday night.

Devin Vassell had 26 points and Victor Wembanyama 21 for San Antonio, which has lost its last two.

After trailing by 25 points in the final quarter, San Antonio went on a 15-0 run over 3:38 to pull within three at 99-96. But the Spurs had three turnovers in the final three minutes and the Magic staved off the rally.

It was almost a repeat of Orlando’s 131-129 loss to Dallas on Monday. The Magic missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer against the Mavericks after leading by 16 points in the third quarter.

This time, Orlando (24-24) was able to hang on for its first win in San Antonio since Nov. 4, 2019.

“It’s all about growth for this group,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “We continue to have to go through these experiences to help us understand that it’s a 48-minute game. We were obviously on the other end of this in the Dallas game. So, you can reflect right away and understand teams are going to go on runs, just like we went on a run against them, but we’ve got to keep our poise no matter what happens.”

Jeremy Sochan added 18 points and 12 rebounds after a fast start for San Antonio. Sochan was energized hours after learning he was not selected to play in the Rising Stars tournament during NBA All-Star weekend.

Sochan outfought Wagner for an offensive rebound on the game’s first possession and muscled past and over him for a three-point play. Sochan then soared to block Wagner’s shot and added a reverse dunk off on an alley-oop pass from Vassell. Sochan had nine points, six rebounds, two blocks and an assist while playing the first 10 minutes of the opening quarter.

Sochan was held to nine points, six rebounds, no blocks and an assist in the final three quarters.

“He goes too fast sometimes, and we’ve just got to get him to slow down,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “He gets rolling and skips a few steps in there, but he’s an aggressive kind of player. I think when he learns a little bit more about pace, meaning you don’t have to be at full tilt the entire time, he’ll make some better plays.”

San Antonio failed to score in the final 2:20 of the first quarter with Sochan on the bench. The Spurs reserves struggled offensively without Keldon Johnson, who missed the game with a left elbow laceration.

Orlando took advantage with Wagner, Banchero, Wendell Carter Jr. and Jonathan Isaac 25 for 48 from the field

“They’re huge,” Popovich said. “They’re strong, they’re big. Talking about 6-9, 6-10, 6-11 guys that are athletic. Just really impressive.”

San Antonio was outscored 23-9 in the final three minutes of both the first and second quarters, turning an 11-point lead in the opening period to a 57-51 lead for Orlando at halftime.

San Antonio had 12 turnovers through the first 7:15 of the third quarter as Orlando extended its lead to 74-59. The Magic punctuated the run with one-handed slams by Banchero and Jalen Suggs off back-to-back turnovers by the Spurs.

“We’ve got to be better at the end of the third, start of the fourth,” Wagner said. “We had a couple of lapses here and there. We’ve got to make sure to keep those stretches a little shorter.”

San Antonio finished with 17 turnovers as Orlando led by 20 points or more bridging the last and first half of the third and fourth quarters.

The deficit was sizeable, Wembanyama said, but not insurmountable.

“Not necessarily, but it definitely doesn’t help us,” he said.

The Spurs are 2-3 during a seven-game homestand before embarking on their annual three-week road trip with the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo taking place in the Frost Bank Center.


Magic: At Minnesota on Friday.

Spurs: Host New Orleans on Friday.