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Game Recap: Suns stave off a feisty Magic comeback, 102-99

Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges showed their worth in the final minutes and pushed the Suns past the Magic.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Orlando Magic
The Suns improve to 52-13 and have passed their win total from last season in only 65 games.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Suns came away with a gritty win in Orlando over the Magic, 102-99

It was not exactly the prettiest of wins, and against a team who is tied for the NBA’s worst record, such a close game was not expected.

But when you are as shorthanded as the Suns currently are, the result is all that matters.

Deandre Ayton led the way for Phoenix with a monster double-double, 21 points and 19 rebounds. Landry Shamet broke out as well for a season-high 21 points, with all six of his made shots coming from beyond the arc. Cam Payne continued his strong play in the starting lineup, racking up another double-double with 18 points and 12 assists.

For the Magic, Wendell Carter Jr. had a strong return to play, with 20 points and 12 rebounds after missing the last two games with a non-COVID illness. While Orlando had contributions from top to bottom, with all 10 players who played scoring above 5 points, only three of them broke double-digits.

Both teams struggled from the field, shooting below 40%. Ultimately, the game came down to late-game execution, and the Suns’ experience and toughness proved to be just enough to edge them past the hosts.


Starting Lineups

Suns

  • PG - Cam Payne
  • SG - Landry Shamet
  • SF - Mikal Bridges
  • PF - Jae Crowder
  • C - Deandre Ayton

Injury Report: Devin Booker (Out - health and safety protocols), Cam Johnson (Out - right quad contusion), Chris Paul (Out - right thumb fracture), Frank Kaminsky (Out - right knee stress fracture), Dario Saric (Out - right ACL rehab)

Magic

  • PG - Cole Anthony
  • SG - R.J. Hampton
  • SF - Franz Wagner
  • PF - Wendell Carter Jr.
  • C - Mo Bamba

Injury Report: Jalen Suggs (Out - sprained right ankle), Bol Bol (Out - right foot rehab), Jonathan Isaac (Out - left ACL rehab


Game Flow

First Half

Deandre Ayton wins the tip and gets an alley-oop from Cam Payne to get the Suns rolling!

Their chemistry and aggression can be seen early, as Ayton adds two more jump shots and Payne tacks on two more assists. Suns lead 12-2 as the Magic take the first timeout.

The offense slowed down for Phoenix as the quarter continued, with Suns players missing open shots. The Magic slowly climbed back into the game, with Wendell Carter Jr. leading the way. He ripped off 9 quick points, including a three-pointer to give the Magic a 17-14 lead with 4:45 left in the first.

Suns’ coach Monty Williams looked to his bench to clamp down defensively and the call was answered by Torrey Craig and Aaron Holiday, as the Magic scored merely 3 points from the free-throw line in the final 3:40 of the first. Suns lead 28-22 as the opening quarter comes to a close.

Payne continued to find openings for his teammates, earning his fifth assist when setting up Craig for his third basket of the night. But the Magic’s bench unit chipped away at the Suns’ lead, and Orlando tied the game back up with 7:31 left to go in the half, 34-34.

Payne’s vision helped the Suns reclaim their lead, as he racked up two more assists before checking out for Holiday. Ayton continued his aggression as well, racking up his 15th point on a jam inside.

But in the final minute, it was the Cam Payne show, as he returned to rip off 7 quick points and lead the Suns to a 53-43 halftime score. Ayton has a double-double at the half with 10 rebounds to go with his 15 points. Carter Jr. leads the way for the Magic will 11 points and 7 rebounds.

Second Half

Payne picked up right from where he left off in the first half, with two early baskets to push the lead out to 14. Orlando started slow, taking over two minutes to get their first basket of the second half, with a jump shot from Franz Wagner.

Magic struggled to cut into the lead, as the Suns’ matched the host’s makes and misses throughout the third. Twice Orlando cut the lead below 10, and both times the Suns had a response, with a Landry Shamet three (his fourth) and a Mikal Bridges three (his second).

But the Magic refused to go away quietly, trading baskets with the Suns down the stretch of the third. They outscored the Suns in the final 4 minutes of the quarter, 13-8, and ended the quarter trailing only by 8, 79-71.

Their run continued into the fourth, as the Magic scored five quick points in the first minute to trim the Suns’ lead to 3, 79-76. The rising intensity of the game was palpable, as both teams traded baskets as the Suns refused to give up their lead.

Suns’ were forced into a timeout with 8:31 left to go, as Bridges went down with a twisted ankle. The twist must have been minor, however, as Bridges remained in the game and played without much hindrance.

After the timeout, Shamet connected with his sixth three of the night and Jae Crowder finally scored his first three of the night to give the Suns some cushion.

But just when it looked like the Suns would finally pull away, the Magic clamped down defensively. They forced seven straight missed shots over a three-minute stretch and went on a 9-0 run to tie the game again with 3:25 left to go, 93-93.

Orlando reclaimed a one-point lead with 1:51 left to go, 97-96, their first lead since the first quarter. But Ayton came back alive in the clutch, with two back-to-back baskets to give Phoenix a three-point lead with 12.7 seconds left in the game.

Suns decide to foul and send Cole Anthony to the line, who cooly converted both his free throws. Still down by 1, Orlando fouls as well to send Payne to the line. Payne converted both as well to put the Suns back up by three, 102-99, with just 6.9 seconds left.

Out of the time out, the Magic went to the rookie Franz Wagner for the game-tying three-point attempt, but Bridges stuck with Wagner and blocked the attempt to seal the victory for Phoenix.