Orlando’s recent losing streak is either depressing or encouraging, depending on your perspective on the team’s lottery chances. Given that the Magic lost to them last week, the Magic stood a decent chance at losing Thursday’s contest as well. That ould not be the case, as Orlando used a big third quarter to take the win over Brooklyn 115-107. Still, even if the win hurts the Magic’s draft standings incrementally, the highlights made it a fun game to watch, including 18 third-quarter points from Jodie Meeks and several highlight-reel jams from Aaron Gordon. The team was led throughout the night by Elfrid Payton, who scored 22 and dished out 11 assists. Jeremy Lin did his best Linsanity throwback in the fourth, scoring a season-high 32 on the night.
Evan Fournier sat with a sore wrist, and Vogel promised to play Terrence Ross minimally in the second half, so tonight was all about the young guys, as well as Meeks getting into the starting lineup. The first quarter didn’t start off hot for the Magic, who shot just 36% and failed to collect any offensive rebounds.
The trend was somewhat the reverse of the last contest, as the Magic recovered from their low-energy, poor shooting start to come out stronger in the second. At the end of the first and into the second quarter, newcomers Marcus Georges-Hunt and Patricio Garino made their way into the game, playing a little rough at times but altogether having decent debuts, especially MGH (as he suggested to the Magic announcers that he likes to be called), who at one point scored 5 consecutive points on a 3-pointer and a nifty layup.
The third was when the game really broke open, and that was mostly thanks to Meeks, who was scoreless in the first half but really exploded in the 12 minutes after that. His 18 points came in large part from his 4 made 3-pointers. He was devastating coming around screens, and earned a couple layups by running in transition as well, getting the pass from Payton on the fast break. When Payton wasn’t assisting Jodie, he and AG found Top-10-worthy alley-oops, including one pass off the glass, and another where Gordon literally jump out of his shoe. Altogether, the Magic used that explosive quarter to break open the tie game into a 13-point lead entering the fourth, 84-71.
For a while, the fourth quarter looked pretty scary, especially when Jeremy Lin got hot. He was 5-9 from deep on the night, 2 of those coming down the stretch of the game to keep the score close. MGH scored all 8 of his points in the fourth, including the aforementioned 5 in a row, but for the most part it was the starters (minus Ross) holding down the fort. Although the score got within single digits at the end, they were able to hold on just long enough to force fouls and seal the game.