The Orlando Magic entered Wednesday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns losers of six of their last eight (three in a row) and in desperate need of a win on their home floor.
They didn’t get what they needed, although they came close.
The Suns edged the Magic in overtime (122-120) to finish off their five-game east coast road-trip. Fourth-year guard Devin Booker scored 35 points, 22 of those coming in the second half, to lead the Suns.
The Magic, who had failed to score 100 points in a game in their last seven contests coming into Wednesday, scored enough (and then some) to win the game. Getting stops down the stretch proved to be their downfall (and a first half swoon).
The paint is where the Magic did most of their damage to begin the game. Orlando was able to get whatever they wanted with little to no resistance early in the contest, scoring eight of their first 17 points at the rim.
The Magic were also on fire to begin the game, connecting on five of their first six three-point attempts. However, turnovers (which have plagued the Magic lately) were a problem for the Magic in the first quarter. Six Orlando turnovers led to 12 Phoenix points.
Trying to stagger his lineups, Coach Clifford went to his bench rather early in the first quarter. The strategy did not work out for his club, who quickly lost their offensive rhythm, allowing the Suns to get back in the game.
Phoenix took advantage of Orlando’s sloppiness, going on a 25-10 run from the late first quarter through the second period. The Magic got away from getting the ball in the paint and running their offense from inside-out like they were earlier in the game, allowing the Suns to push their lead to nine (62-53) at the break.
The Suns incredibly shot 71% (15-21) from the field as a team in the second quarter, outscoring the Magic 36-21.
The Magic came out of the half showing a ton of fight. Orlando began the second half on a 10-3 run. They briefly regained the lead behind strong play from D.J. Augustin. Orlando’s starting point guard scored 11 points in the third quarter.
D.J. Augustin is on— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) December 27, 2018
as he rips the ball free and runs the length of the court for the layup!
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Booker, Phoenix’s leading scorer who missed the first contest between the two clubs in Arizona, proved to be quite problematic for the Magic to defend in the third quarter. His 11 points in the period helped the Suns maintain their lead (90-87) heading into the game’s final session.
The lead went back and forth in the fourth quarter a few times before the Suns drew the game even on a T.J. Warren jumper with 2:47 remaining in the game.
An Evan Fournier three-point make with 1:12 remaining in the game gave the Magic a three point lead, but the Suns answered with seven unanswered points to push their lead to four with 16.7 seconds remaining in the game.
Out of an Orlando timeout, Terrence Ross knocked down an incredible three-point shot to close the gap to one point with just over 12 seconds remaining.
After two Booker free throws, the Magic miraculously found a way to tie the game. In the corner, directly in front of Phoenix’s own bench, rookie Mikal Bridges fouled Augustin on a three-point attempt with 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock.
Augustin coolly knocked down all three free throw attempts to send the game to an extra period.
Orlando may have easily eclipsed the century mark in regulation, but their scoring came to a screeching halt in overtime. The Magic connected on their first attempt, and then went on to miss ten straight shots to close out the game.
The Suns didn’t fare much better, going 2-9 in the extra period. But it was enough to top the Magic, who got a clean look at a game-winning three-point attempt from Fournier as time expired (it clanked off the rim).
Augustin led the Magic with 27 points in the game. Nikola Vucevic added 22 points and 13 rebounds in a losing effort.
T.J. Warren scored 24 points for the Suns, and recently acquired forward Kelly Oubre Jr. chipped in with 19 points off the bench.
The Magic now look ahead to Friday as they welcome the Eastern Conference leading Toronto Raptors to town.