But this year’s Magic team was up for that test, and the new additions mixed with familiar faces to secure a win over Orlando’s most hated rivals.
The new Magic ran the floor for rim-rattling dunks, shared the ball for open threes, came out of the half with a new fire – and most importantly, beat Miami. If this is the new Orlando Magic, 2017-18 will be a fun season.
After trailing for most of the first half, the Magic grabbed the lead on an Evan Fournier dunk with just over three minutes to go in the half. Despite a late scare, which included a Hassan Whiteside three-pointer and brief flashback to last season’s offensive woes, the Magic held onto the lead so tight that it couldn’t escape.
Evan Fournier was the catalyst that kept Orlando from sinking when the Heat went on an 11-0 run late in the fourth quarter, a run that would’ve doomed other recent Magic teams according to the Frenchman.
“Honestly, I was still confident, but I think two or three years ago that’s a game we would’ve lost,“ said Fournier, “ It shows growth from us players.”
But Fournier wouldn’t let that happen again. He scored seven straight points and dished out an assist to Nikola Vucevic in the final minutes to slam the door on the Heat. Last season, Fournier struggled to be a go-to scorer, but he looked as comfortable as ever tonight.
But it wasn’t just Fournier, who paced the Magic with 23 points. Old faces and new combined for a well-balanced win.
Nikola Vucevic turned in a vintage game with 19 points and 13 boards on 50 percent from the field. Terrence Ross led the team in plus/minus with a +18 and poured in 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting and a crafty six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.
Jonathan Simmons, the former Spur, made his Magic debut a memorable one with 12 points, and he was the leading scorer throughout much of the first half.
Also, rookie Jonathan Isaac was impressive in his first NBA game, netting eight rebounds, two blocks and four points in 17 minutes.
Isaac said that he was so amped up that he forgot his jersey in the locker room. “[I’ll remember] just looking at all the fans,” said the Magic rookie, “everybody here that’s supporting us so that hopefully we can keep their support. I didn’t even put my jersey on, so I was on the bench and I completely forgot my jersey and luckily Sid got it for me.”