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Bad third quarter dooms Magic in 105-100 loss to Suns

The Magic had another third quarter collapse in their loss to the Suns.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Meeting for the second and final time of the season, the Orlando Magic welcomed the Phoenix Suns to the Amway Center. The Magic made it interesting late, but were unable to overcome a poor third quarter, falling 105-100.

Early on, it was clear the Magic wanted to go to Nikola Vucevic often. The man in the middle led the team with eight points in the quarter, and took a team high seven shots, getting the ball in a handful of places on the court. The Magic's defense smothered the Suns, forcing seven turnovers, leading to 10 points. Orlando's offense ran smoothly, with the ball moving and players getting good looks on many possessions. Markieff Morris got things rolling early for the Suns, finishing with nine points and three rebounds in the opening period.

After a strong start on the defensive end, the Magic tightened up even more, holding the Suns to a frigid 6-of-21 from the field in the quarter. They also continued to put the pressure on them in the turnover category, forcing four more, leading to six points. The Magic were also able to continue to execute their offensive efficiently, despite having seven turnovers of their own in the quarter. The hosts went 11-of-20 from the field, and notched six assists on those 11 makes. Vucevic continued to put together yet another solid night, pushing his first half point total to 14. Morris, along with the recently acquired Brandon Knight, led the Suns with 13 at the half.

Coming out of halftime, things fell apart for the Magic. The Suns attacked from early on in the quarter, getting easy bucket after easy bucket. The Magic struggled to find any real flow to their offense, relying heavily on Victor Oladipo to just keep them afloat thanks to his ability to get to the rim off the dribble. The second-year guard scored 11 of his teams 17 in the quarter, pushing his total for the game to 21 through 36 minutes, a team high. Morris continued to lead the way for the Suns with 21 of his own.

Down eight, the Magic looked to Oladipo to get them going in the fourth quarter. Their young, budding star guard got the team going early in the quarter, scoring eight of the team's first 10 points. However, despite his high level of play, coupled with some nice play from fellow backcourt mate Elfrid Payton, the Magic were not able to get within fewer than three for much of the quarter. Then, down eight with under two minutes to go, Oladipo took over.

The former Indiana Hoosier knocked down his third three-pointer of the quarter, and after getting a stop, a layup the next time down. Vucevic, who had been quiet since his strong start, forced a turnover from Eric Bledsoe, leading to a layup from Oladipo on the other end, cutting the lead down to one. After a jumper from Morris, Vucevic tipped in an Oladipo miss, cutting the lead back down to one. A pair of free throws from Brandon Knight, were followed by a pair by Oladipo, once again chopping the Suns lead to one. Bledsoe went to the line for a pair, making both, before the Magic got a chance with a side out of bounds play with 5.2 seconds left. Willie Green was unable to get the ball inbounds, turning it over to Knight, fouling him and sealing the game for the Suns.

Four Suns finished in double figures, led by Knight's 28 points, seven assists and three steals. Morris finished the night with 23, with P.J. Tucker adding 19, all in the second half. Bledsoe rounded out the group, finishing with 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

Three Magic men finished in double figures, led by Oladipo's career-high 38. Vucevic finished the night with 18 points, with Tobias Harris scoring 11 of his own.