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San Antonio vs. Orlando, Final Score: Spurs can’t overcome Magic’s hot shooting, lose 111-127

9 threes in the third quarter was too much for the Spurs, even with a historic run from Vassell.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Orlando Magic Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

One night after losing to the Miami Heat, the Spurs were up the road to take on the up-and-coming Orlando Magic, and similar to last week’s match-up, the Magic used the middle quarters to put the Spurs away and staved off any comeback attempts. After a slow offensive first half for the Spurs, it looked like the Magic were going to completely put them away in the third quarter by making nine of their 16 threes, but a heroic effort from Devin Vassell kept them alive before the Magic pulled away late to hand the Spurs a 111-127 loss, their sixth straight.

Vassell had 23 of his 30 points all in the third quarter to prevent the game from turning into a blowout but didn’t get much more help. Franz Wagner exploded for 34 points on 13-17 shooting to lead six Magic players in double figures.

Observations

  • If the Magic don’t hit nine threes in the third quarter (you never would have known they’re the 29th worst three-point shooting team in this one), Vassell’s third quarter performance would have stood out a lot more and possibly even changed the course of the game. He scored 23 points, making him the first Spur to score that much in a single quarter since play-by-play was introduced in 1996-97. It also made him just the 18th player in the NBA in that time span to score 23 or more points in a quarter on 100% shooting with 9 or more field goals made (hat tip: Dan Weiss). Ultimately, all it did was bring what had been a 23-point deficit down to 10 heading into the fourth quarter, and another Magic run in the fourth was too much to overcome.
  • Victor Wembanyama continues to look lethargic on the court, moving slowly and without much purpose. He had 15 points in just 23 minutes but only grabbed 1 rebound and was stripped down low multiple times by the Magic’s swarming defense. Whether it’s the rookie wall, readjusting after the extended time on minutes restrictions, or the cedar fever is still bothering him (voice of experience: it can last for weeks), he hasn’t been the same player that won January Western Conference Rookie of the Month.
  • Without doing the math, I’m guessing the Spurs have turned into one of the worst technical free throw shooting teams of late. They’ve missed several over the last couple of weeks, including another one today after Wendell Carter Jr. was T-ed up for “slinging” Jeremy Sochan to the ground on a jump ball. The Spurs aren’t a bad free throw shooting team — they sit in the middle of the league at 77.7 percent — but there’s something about standing at the line alone, in a way under more pressure than a regular free throw, that has gotten to them lately.

The Spurs continue their Rodeo Road Trip on Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets. Tipoff will be at 5:00 PM CT on KENS 5.