The Orlando Magic put together a sound effort Tuesday night against the Houston Rockets, but ultimately were unable to pull off an improbable season sweep of the title contenders, falling by a 107-94 final. The game was closer than the final score might indicate: Orlando trailed by only two points with 4:42 to play before coming up empty on its next seven possessions as the Rockets went on an 11-0 run to clinch the game.
Victor Oladipo put together another dazzling performance for the Magic, tallying 29 points on 24 shooting possessions to go with four boards, three assists, four steals, and no turnovers. Ben Gordon added 13 off the bench. More notably, the Magic held Rockets All-Star guard James Harden to 17 points on 19 shooting possessions.
Fotunately for Houston, its supporting players picked up Harden's slack: Donatas Motiejūnas soundly outplayed Nik Vučević, his opposing number, posting a team-best 23 points. Corey Brewer added 13 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
Orlando limited its mistakes (10 turnovers) and kept Harden in check, but failed to defend the three-point line (Houston shot 11-of-27 from deep) and to hold its own on the glass (the Rockets outrebounded Orlando by a 47-40 margin). These factors, as well as Vučević's poor offensive night, contributed to the Magic's fifth straight defeat.
The Magic at least held their own for much of the night, on the road, against a title-contending team. Still, in Year Three of its rebuilding project, one gets the sense Orlando ought to be more poised than it was down the stretch Tuesday.