NBA roundup: Franz Wagner scores 34, leads Magic to second straight rout of Cavaliers to tie series at 2-2

Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner (22) celebrates with guard Cole Anthony (50) after making a basket and drawing a foul during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 27, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — By the time Franz Wagner finished outscoring Cleveland by himself in the third quarter, what had been a competitive game turned into another rout in this series between the Orlando Magic and Cavaliers.

Wagner had 34 points and 13 rebounds, and the Magic held the Cavaliers scoreless for a second-half stretch of almost seven minutes, cruising to a 112-89 victory Saturday that tied the Eastern Conference first-round series at 2-2.


After putting up 60 points in the first half, Cleveland was outscored 37-10 in the third quarter and managed only 29 points in the second half.

Asked if he had ever seen a more dominant defensive quarter, Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said: “I’d have to look that one up.”

Wagner had 10 points in the first five minutes of the third quarter and finished with 12 in the period, when the Cavaliers missed 14 of their 18 shots.

“Once we came back from that nine-point deficit starting the third, and they took that timeout, I felt like OK, the momentum is swinging in our direction,” Magic big man Jonathan Isaac said.

It never swung back.

Game 4 of the series will be Tuesday night in Cleveland, where the No. 4-seeded Cavaliers won the first two by double digits before getting blown out twice in Florida.

“They held home court just like we did,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Now we get an opportunity to go home and play a best-of-three series with two games in Cleveland. We’ve got areas where we can change some things, fix some things, but I know our guys will be ready to go on Tuesday night.”

Isaac (14 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) and Markelle Fultz (12 points, four rebounds) gave the Magic major help off the bench. Paolo Banchero, who had 35 points in Orlando’s 121-83 win in Game 3 on Thursday night, finished with nine points and five assists in his first single-digit scoring game since Nov. 29.

Jarrett Allen had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Cavaliers. Donovan Mitchell had 18 points, all in the first half.

“Ten points (in a quarter) is outrageous,” Donovan said. “We have to be better. I have to be better. I’m disappointed in myself, so it’s on me. You can’t have 18 points in the first half and zero in the second, and only four shots.”

Including the games in this series, the Magic have won six straight at home while losing six straight on the road.

“We’re not satisfied at all,” Wagner said. “We just got two wins. We need two more against them so we’ve got to stay locked in and try to get the next one in Cleveland.”

Wagner opened the second half by converting a Cleveland turnover into a layup and hitting a jump shot from the free throw line. He added a 3-pointer and a three-point play on a five-minute, 17-6 run that put Orlando up 68-67.

Thunder rolls to 3-0 series lead with 106-85 win over the Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jalen Williams was on his hands and knees after taking a hard shot to the eye on the opening possession of a pivotal playoff game.

By the third quarter, Williams was draining a pair of 3-pointers during a 9-0 run that had the New Orleans Pelicans reeling.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 24 points, Williams and Josh Giddey each had 21 and the Thunder beat the Pelicans 106-85 on Saturday to take a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.

“Dub’s very talented,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of Williams, who has averaged about 20 points in the series and scored 13 of his Game 3 points in the second half. “He was clearly big tonight, very impressive and nothing we’re not used to.”

The top-seeded Thunder entered the playoffs answering a lot of questions about the relative youth and inexperience on its roster — and that appeared justified after a two -point escape at home in Game 1 against the eighth-seeded Pelicans.

Since then, the Thunder have posted victory margins of 32 in Game 2 and 21 in Game 3, in no small part because of a relentless defensive effort that has kept the Pelicans to 92 or fewer points in all three games of the series.

“We were ready to play,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “Our physicality again, our defense and focus on that end of the floor was really, really good, made them earn everything. And I thought that set the tone.”

Oklahoma City hit 17 of 36 (47.2%) from 3-point range and held a lead of 10 points or more throughout the second half, going up by as many as 24 in the fourth quarter. By then, a contingent of Thunder fans could be heard chanting, “OKC! OKC!” as New Orleans fans filed out.

“We adjusted really well to the flow of the game. We got good looks,” Giddey said. “They threw a lot of different looks at us but we’ve got a lot of weapons on the floor at all times. So, guys made the right play, the extra pass.”

The Pelicans, who’ve been without star forward Zion Williamson during the series because of his hamstring injury, will try to avoid elimination at home in Game 4 on Monday night.

“It’s not over,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said of his message to the team. “Look, we’ve got another game here at home and we’re not going to fix all of our issues tonight. Go home, have a good meal and we’ll come back (Sunday) and practice and go over what we need to do and get ready for the next game.”

History is not on their side. No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 series deficit.

“You can’t take your foot off the gas no matter what the lead is in a series,” Giddey said. “Neither team looks at this series as over.”

Brandon Ingram scored 19 points and CJ McCollum had 16 for New Orleans, which struggled to hit from the perimeter and to take care of the ball.

Celtics roll past Heat 104-84 for 2-1 lead in East series

MIAMI (AP) — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown each scored 22 points, and the Boston Celtics soundly beat the Miami Heat 104-84 on Saturday night to a take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

Tatum added 10 rebounds and six assists for the Celtics, who led Game 3 wire-to-wire and reclaimed the home-court edge that they lost when Miami won Game 2 in Boston. Kristaps Porzingis had 18 points and Derrick White scored 16 for the Celtics, who used runs of 12-3, 11-0 and 20-8 in the first half to take full control.

Bam Adebayo scored 20 points for eighth-seeded Miami, which remains without starters Jimmy Butler and Terry Rozier because of injuries. Nikola Jovic and Tyler Herro each scored 15 for the Heat, who got 12 from Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Game 4 is Monday in Miami, where the Celtics are 9-2 in their last 11 games and 6-1 in their last seven playoff games.

It was a season low in points scored for Miami, a season low in points allowed for Boston.

Bounce-back efforts have been a trend for Boston this season. The Celtics — the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs — don’t lose often, and when they do, they tend to just come out and win their next one. Boston is now 15-4 in the game immediately following a loss this season, its average victory margin in those games 12.2 points.

Boston never trailed in Game 1, a 114-94 win, and never trailed in Game 3 either, on its way to beating Miami for the fifth time in six meetings this season. The Celtics started slowly and Miami started slower, Boston leading 21-12 after one and setting the tone for how nothing would come easily for the Heat.

It was Miami’s lowest-scoring first quarter in its last 197 games, dating back to the 2022 playoffs — also against Boston, when the Heat managed 11 points in the opening 12 minutes of Game 4 of that East finals series.

Midway through the second quarter, it — briefly — seemed like Miami had weathered the storm. The Heat were making a bit of a run, the building had some life and Herro had a look at a 3-pointer that would have gotten the Heat within 10.

Lakers avoid 1st-round elimination with a 119-108 win over champion Denver

LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James scored 30 points, Anthony Davis added 25 points and 23 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers avoided playoff elimination with a 119-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of their first-round series Saturday night.

D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves scored 21 points apiece for the seventh-seeded Lakers, who snapped their 11-game losing streak against the defending NBA champions with their first win over the Nuggets since December 2022.

Denver swept Los Angeles out of the Western Conference finals last season, but the current Lakers responded to this 0-3 deficit with a performance more worthy of a team that rolled into the postseason with 12 wins in 15 games. James scored 14 points in the fourth quarter on 6-of-8 shooting, again carrying the Lakers late in his 21st NBA season.

Nikola Jokic had 33 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists in the two-time MVP’s 18th career triple-double and second in this series. Game 5 is Monday night in Denver.

After blowing a double-digit lead in each of the first three games of the series, Los Angeles again took a healthy lead early in the second half of Game 4, but never fell behind again despite the Nuggets’ unsurprising late rally.

Michael Porter Jr. had 27 points and 11 rebounds for Denver, and Jamal Murray scored 22 points while going 0 for 4 on 3-point attempts.

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