Wrapping up a five game home stand, the Orlando Magic welcomed the in-state rival Miami Heat to the Amway Center for a Friday night meeting. For the first time since 2008-09 the Magic won the season series against the Heat, knocking off their rivals 110-99
After a poor performance on Wednesday night, the Magic came out full of energy on both ends against the Heat. The Magic’s defense locked down, holding the Heat to 7-23 shooting in the opening quarter, including 2-10 to start the game. Their active hands led to deflections, but only resulted in three turnovers for the visitors. The Magic did push the pace seemingly every time they got the ball, resulting in 13 fast break points in the opening 12 minutes. After one, the Magic, who led by as many as 14, found themselves up eight, 33-25.
Turning to their reserves, the Magic quickly saw a drop in energy on both ends. The ball movement and crisp movement the Magic had in the opening quarter was gone, and they were struggling to slow the Heat down on the defensive end. Once the Magic brought their starters back in, things began to return to the level they were at in the opening quarter. Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon led a recharged Magic bunch, allowing them to push their lead back up to seven at the half, up 60-53.
Out of halftime, Nikola Vucevic began to take over for the Magic. Vucevic was a force on both ends, blocking and altering shots left and right on the defensive end, and scoring in seemingly every way possible. Thanks to their continued high energy, and Vucevic, along with Payton’s strong play, the Magic were able to push their lead to as many as 19 in the quarter. Miami finished the quarter on a small run to cut the Magic lead down to 12, 85-73 after three.
Turning to their bench to open the fourth quarter, the Magic’s reserves were able to hold the lead steady before the majority of the starters returned. With D.J. Augustin still on the floor, however, the Magic struggled, despite having four of their five starters in the game. The Heat continued to knock down shots or get to the free throw line, with Goran Dragic drawing a foul on a three-pointer for the second time in the half to bring the Heat within three.
With Payton back in the game, the Magic quickly answered, pushing the lead back up to 13, behind buckets from Vucevic, and a big three from Evan Fournier. The 13 point lead would be one the Magic wouldn’t relinquish, holding on for the win.
Vucevic led all scorers with 25 points on the night. Aaron Gordon added a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double. Jeff Green and Fournier each added 11 on the night. Terrence Ross scored 10, with Payton flirting with a triple-double, ultimately finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
James Johnson led the way for the Heat with 19 off the bench. Hassan Whiteside added 15 points and 18 rebounds, with Dragic adding 15 of his own. Wayne Ellington scored 14 and Tyler Johnson finished the night with 10.