Magic’s ideal offense leads to Franz Wagner’s season-best performance – The Denver Post


Franz Wagner’s performance in the Orlando Magic’s 113-109 Friday home win over the Toronto Raptors showcased two things: Individual scoring versatility and an ideal version of the team’s offense.

Wagner shined, scoring a season-high 34 points, including the go-ahead putback layup. He was efficient and decisive, shooting 12 of 15 from the field — including 9 of 10 inside the paint — and made all 8 of his free throws.

He balanced out his scoring through the first three quarters (10, 8 and 14) before scoring the game-deciding bucket.

“I had a couple of drives off the second and third action when the defense had to move a little bit,” Wagner said when asked what he saw from Toronto’s defense that allowed him to have his season-best performance. “I saw the ball go in and had a couple of free throws early.

“After that, a couple came in transition and pick-and-roll through the flow of the game where it’s hard for defenses to key in on one player. That’s something I continue to do: Play within the flow of the offense and not chase shots.”

Playing within the offense’s flow was a theme for the Magic throughout Friday, not just Wagner.

Although it wasn’t reflected in most numbers in a traditional boxscore (24 assists on 42 field goals, 19 of 21 on free throws, 50 points in the paint and 10 of 26 on 3s), the Magic executed coach Jamahl Mosley’s game plan as well as they have at any point this season and were rewarded with 59.2% shooting from the field and an offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) of 116.5 — their best since their Nov. 11 win over the Phoenix Suns.

“This game shows it works what the coaches are telling us,” Wagner said. “They’re telling us to get to the paint and make decisions from there. Toronto’s really good at collapsing to the paint and defending the rim. That second and third action is when you get baskets at the rim most of the time. It’s a credit to how we moved the basketball around and let everybody touch it throughout a possession.”

Forty-two of the Magic’s 71 field goal attempts came after the ballhandler got into the paint, including 14 of the first 19 during the first quarter when they shot 66.7% from the field (14 of 21) and 60% on 3s (60%).

This doesn’t take into account their paint touches preceding a shooting foul that didn’t count as a field-goal attempt.

The Magic moved the ball side to side well and attacked the paint quickly off player and ball movement — a strength of the team that was further highlighted by Orlando shooting 72.2% on drives and 84% at the rim.

“It makes it a lot easier when you have guys who know how to make and when to make what decision,” Wagner said. “We have so many guys who can handle the ball and make decisions. That’s when we can reach our potential, when all those guys can make decisions.”

The Magic have had more ballhandlers the last few games after the returns of Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony — giving them more options to create offense.

“We continue to learn each other,” Fultz said. “Guys are starting to realize that’s the way our team can play. We’re young, athletic and we want to make everybody a threat. We’ve been doing it over the last few games, I just think [Friday] you’ve seen results of making shots and getting the shots we wanted. Something we got to continue to build on. We still had a few too many turnovers but it’s all about getting a little better each and every day.”

The Magic (7-20) and Raptors (13-13) will play each again Sunday at Amway Center to wrap up a “baseball-style” series — when two teams play consecutive games at the same venue with no travel in between.

It’ll be the third matchup between the two teams in nine days.

This article first appeared on Email Khobi Price at or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.



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