Magic roll, Isaac stands

Fournier leads surge past Nets as league re­turns in earnest

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS -

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.

ASH­LEY LANDIS/GETTY PHO­TOS

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.

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