The Magic we’re up-and-down all night, but pulled out a close one against the Heat in Orlando.
The Magic jumped out early with a frantic pace on the offensive end, scoring 10 fast break points in the quarter. Orlando also got to the basket all will, scoring all 22 of their 28 first quarter points in the painted area. Their defense was active as well, tipping Miami passes left and right, but they struggled with rotations, giving up four three-pointers to the visitors in the opening quarter. After one, the active Magic found themselves up six, 28-22, behind six points from both Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier.
As has been the case consistently over the last four years, the Magic bench unit struggled mightily to open the second quarter. With three real non-offensive threats on the floor — Bismack Biyombo, Jonathan Issac and Mario Hezonja — the Magic failed to get anything going. Add in sloppy play on the defensive end, and the Magic found themselves digging out of yet another hole. The Magic’s starters bailed them out, however, working their way back from an 11 point deficit to trail by one, 50-49 at the half.
Out of half, the Magic starters struggled, watching the Heat lead balloon to as many as 16. Behind hot shooting from Aaron Gordon, and much improved play from their bench, led by Jonathon Simmons, the Magic slowly whittled away at the Heat lead. Simmons ignited the crowd, and his Magic teammates with a high-flying alley-oop from Elfrid Payton, and a chase down block that saw him almost hit his head on the backboard on Hassan Whiteside. After three, the Magic trailed by just seven, 75-68.
Behind continued high energy plays from Simmons, along with Biymobo and Isaac, the Magic worked their way into a lead early in the quarter. Both teams then went deep into their bench to get looks at some guys fighting for roster spots. After Miami went up by one behind a bucket from rookie Bam Adebayo, Arron Afflalo took over for the Magic, scoring their next eight points to take a seven point lead.
Miami fought back, however, going on an 8-0 run of their own to take a one point lead. Isaac came up with a big bucket to retake the lead for the Magic. The Magic got a few late stops, and pulled out a close one against the Heat.
Gordon led the way for the Magic, finishing with a game-high 19 on the night. The rookie Isaac finished with 13 and five rebounds on the night. Simmons added 12, with Terrence Ross adding 12. Afflalo finished with 10, eight of which came in the fourth quarter.