Magic roll, Isaac stands
Fournier leads surge past Nets as league returns in earnest
Evan Fournier scored 24 points, Nikola Vucevic had 22 and the Magic picked up where they left off before the NBA season was suspended, routing the Nets 128-118 on Friday in their first game of the restart.
Playing as the designated road team not far from their arena, the Magic looked right at home at Disney — whose name they wear as their jersey patch. They extended their winning streak to four and moved back ahead of the Nets into seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
The Magic outscored the Nets 75-43 in the middle two quarters, allowing them to overcome some shaky defense at the start and finish.
“We’ve proven that we can play well at both ends of the floor. It’s been a struggle for us to put both together and in the second and third quarter tonight that’s what we did,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said.
Players and coaches from both teams knelt during the national anthem except for the Magic’s Jonathan Isaac, who also was the only player not wearing a Black Lives Matter warmup shirt. Isaac, who was playing his first game since a left knee injury on Jan. 1, stood with his arms behind his back while wearing his regular jersey.
“Kneeling while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt doesn’t go hand-in-hand with supporting Black lives,” Isaac said.
Clifford said Isaac discussed his decision with the Magic and was supported by his teammates.
Isaac, an ordained minister, has a history of being active with various charities and churches.
“We all support him,” Fournier said.
Bucks win battle of East titans: Giannis Antetokounmpo converted a tiebreaking three-point play with 1:28 left on an overturned call that kept him in the game and helped the Bucks beat the Celtics 119-112.
Antetokounmpo had 36 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in the Bucks’ first game in the restart. The Bucks improved the NBA’s best record to 54-12 and moved within a victory of clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the second straight year.
The Celtics overcame a poor start to tie it at 107. Antetokounmpo was then called for a charging foul, appearing to negate his basket and giving him a sixth foul. The call was changed to a blocking foul on Boston’s Marcus Smart after review, and Antetokounmpo made the free throw to make it 110-107.
Middleton added 18 points for the Bucks, who played without Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton while they work on their conditioning after testing positive for the coronavirus. Marvin Williams sat out with a strained left groin.
Smart scored 23 points for the Celtics and Jaylen Brown had 22.
Blazers surge in OT: CJ McCollum scored 33 points, teaming with Damian Lillard for 11 of the Trail Blazers’ 16 in overtime, as the Blazers pulled out a desperately needed victory to resume their season by beating the Grizzlies 140-135.
Lillard finished with 29 points and nine assists as the Trail Blazers boosted their hopes for a seventh consecutive playoff appearance.
Carmelo Anthony added 21 points as the Blazers moved within 2 games of the Grizzlies for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.
McCollum started fast, scoring 19 points in the first half, and finished strong with two crucial 3-pointers in overtime. The first one to open the extra period gave the Blazers the lead for good, and he added six assists.
Jaren Jackson Jr. had 33 points and rookie Ja Morant added 22 points and 11 assists for the Grizzlies.
The Magic’s Evan Fournier, left, drives toward the basket as the Nets’ Lance Thomas defends Friday afternoon in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Suns guard Devin Booker, right, looks for an opening against the Wizards double-team.