SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Lauri Markkanen scored 28 points and blocked Franz Wagner’s 3-pointer in the closing moments to power the Utah Jazz past the Orlando Magic, 112-108 on Friday night.
Jordan Clarkson, who had 23 points, scored the go-ahead layup, and rookie Walker Kessler made two free throws after rebounding Collin Sexton’s second of two missed free throws with 11.8 seconds to play.
I said a little quiet prayer to myself and it happened. I was relieved,” said Kessler, who shoots 55.7 percent from the line, of his late free throws.
Clarkson saw Kessler’s big smile after the ball went through the hoop, but he wasn’t surprised.
“I was talking to him as he got ready and told him he was going to knock those down. I have confidence in him,” Clarkson said.
Markkanen switched onto Wagner beyond the 3-point line and blocked the attempt to tie just as the shot left Wagner’s hand.
Wagner, who scored 26 points, matched a career best of five 3-pointers, including an off-balance 28-foot runner to beat the third-quarter buzzer.
“We were just switching everything and I thought he’d probably shoot a 3, so I tried to stay down and not to foul, but I got a piece of it and we won,” Markannen said.
The Magic erased a 12-point fourth quarter lead with a 19-6 run that was capped by Markelle Fultz’s layup with 42.1 seconds to play that made it 108-107 for Orlando.
“I think the fight was there. The intensity was there,” Wagner said. “I think there was a bunch of moments in the game where we didn’t quit and that’s definitely something to build on.”
Remarkably, Markkanen led the game in scoring despite not having a single field goal after the first quarter.
“I felt like I spent most of the game on the ground after those fouls,” Markkanen said.
Facing strong closeouts, Markkanen often took the ball to the basket and the Magic — without much rim protection — were forced to foul. The 7-foot Finnish star set career highs on both free throws made (17) and attempted (21).
Before this season, Markkanen only had five games where he shot more than 10 free throws. The aggressive Markkanen has shot double-digit free throws five times in his last seven games.
Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter, Jr. each had 19 points for the Magic. They are gone 2-2 on a five-game Western trip.
Sexton returned to the Utah lineup after missing the past five games with a hamstring strain to score 18 points, while Kessler had 13 points, nine rebounds and a career-high seven blocked shots.
The Jazz won back-to-back games for the first time in ten starts.
Regular starters Kelly Olynyk (ankle) and Mike Conley (rest) sat out for the Jazz.
Utah missed 14 straight 3-point attempts from the first to third quarter.
The Jazz will try to make it three straight wins Saturday night at home against Philadelphia.