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NEW ORLEANS: Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans dunks the ball during the third quarter of an NBA game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Smoothie King Center on November 29, 2023 in New Orleans.
NEW ORLEANS: Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans dunks the ball during the third quarter of an NBA game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Smoothie King Center on November 29, 2023 in New Orleans.
Magic win eighth in a row while Embiid ill as Sixers fall
Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum score 20 points in his return

WASHINGTON: German forward Franz Wagner’s 31-point performance sparked Orlando to an eighth consecutive victory on Wednesday, ripping Washington 139-120 to move one game behind NBA overall leader Boston. The Magic connected on 60.7 percent of their shots in improving to 13-5 and matching Milwaukee for second in the Eastern Conference behind the Celtics (14-4).

“We believe we can win every day and we want to play up to our standards,” Wagner said after achieving back-to-back 30-point games for the first time in his NBA career. “It’s a lot of fun. We would like to keep that going.”

Orlando can match the club’s record win streak by beating the Wizards again on Friday. “It would be awesome,” Wagner said. “But we’ve still got one to go so we’ve got to lock in on that.” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley agreed, saying: “I’m a ‘one game at a time’ guy. We’ll enjoy this one but we’ve got to get to work tomorrow.”

Cole Anthony came off the bench to add 25 points and Jalen Suggs scored a season-high 22 points for Orlando. But forward Paolo Banchero, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, suffered an ankle sprain and had only six points.

“We’ve got a young team,” Wagner said. “We’re just a tight-knit group. We’ve got a lot of characters and we just enjoy playing with each other.” The Philadelphia 76ers also could have reached 13-5 but with NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid out with illness, the Sixers lost 124-114 at New Orleans.

Cameroonian seven-footer Embiid, the NBA’s top scorer with 32.0 points a game, was dearly missed as Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson struck for 33 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. He shot 11-of-12 from the floor and the free throw line.

Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum scored 20 points in his return after missing more than three weeks with a collapsed lung and fractured rib. Tyrese Maxey scored 33 points for the 76ers in a losing cause.

Jokic triple double

At Denver, two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic struck for 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds while Michael Porter Jr. added 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to power the defending champion Nuggets over visiting Houston 134-124.

Ignited by their star Serbian center’s triple double, Denver improved the NBA’s best home record to 9-0 and reached 13-6 overall, moving into second place in the Western Conference only a game behind Minnesota (13-4).

“We play good at home,” Porter said. “There’s good energy in the building and we like to play at the crib. We’ve got to bring the same energy on the road.” The Phoenix Suns saw a seven-game win streak snapped while NBA-worst Detroit lost its 15th game in a row.

Toronto got 23 points from Scottie Barnes and 22 from Pascal Siakam to beat visiting Phoenix 112-105. The Raptors led 108-105 when Devin Booker missed a tying three-pointer with 50 seconds remaining. German Dennis Schroder hit a jumper for Toronto and Kevin Durant—who scored a game-high 30 points—then missed a three-pointer for Phoenix. Barnes added two final free throws to seal the Raptors’ triumph.

At Detroit, D’Angelo Russell had game-highs of 35 points and nine assists to lead the Los Angeles Lakers over the Pistons 133-107. Detroit drop to 2-16. Anthony Davis added 28 points and a game-high 16 rebounds for the Lakers while LeBron James, coming off the most lopsided loss of his 21-year career at Philadelphia on Monday, added 25 points and eight rebounds.

At Sacramento, Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points and James Harden scored 17 of his 26 points in the first quarter as the Los Angeles Clippers routed the host Kings 131-117. De’Aaron Fox scored 40 points in a losing cause while Paul George netted 19 for the Clippers. – AFP

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