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Magic 104, Rockets 101: Orlando holds on late despite struggles defensively

The Magic were strong offensively all night, as they notched their 17th win of the season.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Looking for their 17th win on the early season, the Orlando Magic welcomed the Houston Rockets to the Amway Center to wrap up their two game season series. While they didn't have their best stuff defensively all night, the Magic's strong play on the offensive end helped aid them in a 104-101 victory.

Early on, the Magic looked poised to take control of the game, jumping out to an early 10 point lead thanks to strong play on both ends. However, Houston answered, going on a 23-7 run to end the quarter and take a six point lead. After their strong start, the Magic's offense stagnated, struggling to find consistent open looks, while the defense began struggling with Houston's penetration. Their late struggles put the team down 33-27 heading into the second quarter.

Looking for some balance and strong play from his bench, Scott Skiles turned to an all bench lineup to try and give his team a spark. Behind strong, confident play on the offensive end from Aaron Gordon, and smother defense on the other end, the Magic took control of the game once again. The Magic's strong shooting -- the team shot 13-of-27 in the quarter, including 5-of-9 from three -- coupled with great ball movement allowed the Magic to take a six point lead late in the quarter and into the halftime break.

Out of halftime, the Magic quickly pushed the lead up to it's largest margin to that point of 12 points. Houston answered, however, quickly cutting the Magic's lead back down to six after going to a small lineup against Orlando's more traditional lineup. The Magic quickly responded, coming with a small lineup of their own that allowed them to pick apart the Rockets, shooting a blazing 13-of-20 in the quarter to push their lead up to a game-high 13.

After taking a double digit lead early in the fourth, the Magic began to falter. Their offense stagnated, while their defense was unable to stop the Rockets on seemingly every possession. Their struggled allowed the Rockets to claw their way back into the game and take a lead late on a James Harden jumper. A layup from Elfrid Payton took the lead back for the Magic, before a pair of Patrick Beverley free throws saw the Rockets go back ahead with 27 seconds left.

Evan Fournier put the Magic back up one after a driving layup with just over 14 seconds remaining. With a chance to take the lead, the Rockets missed a corner three, before a mad scramble ensued with Payton coming out with the ball, sealing the Magic's victory.

Nikola Vucevic led all Magic scorers with 21 on the night. Tobias Harris finished the night with a quiet 19, while Evan Fournier finished the night with 17. Aaron Gordon scored 14 in the first half, with Payton finishing with 12 points despite an injured ankle. Channing Frye rounded out the bunch in double figures, finishing with 10.

Harden led all scorers, finishing with 31 on the night. Dwight Howard tallied 12 points, while Ty Lawson tallied 11 off the bench. Clint Capela finished the night with 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting.