The Magic are coming back to Orlando a .500 basketball team.
Following a six-game road trip, with difficult stops out West, that’s pretty satisfying. The Magic managed to finish the trip 3-3 after defeating the Miami Heat, 105-90. Behind a strong third quarter where Aaron Gordon took over, the Magic established a double-digit lead and this time protected it, as they improved to 12-12 on the season.
Gordon finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Six players finished in double figures for the Magic, including Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, who had 19 each. Evan Fournier added 13, Jonathan Isaac had 12 in a career-high 31 minutes, and D.J. Augustin added 11 points and five assists.
The Magic, after committing 11 first half turnovers, had none in the second half to seal the win.
It was the Heat who got off to the fast start as Hassan Whiteside, coming off a 20-20 game against the Jazz, scored 10 quick points in the first quarter. But the Magic responded and, after back-to-back threes by Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, opened a 27-22 lead with 2:50 left in first.
The Heat, who trailed by two after the first, opened the second on a 9-1 run, capped by a Justise WInslow three (nine first-half points off the bench) that opened a 36-28 lead for the Heat. The Magic were held to 19 second quarter points, and shot 40 percent from the field despite hitting 7 of 10 of their three-point attempts. To go along with their struggles from the field, the Magic also committed 11 first-half turnovers, and entered the break trailing the Heat, 50-46.
Gordon, who had four points in the first half, came out aggressive in the second half, scoring the Magic’s first nine points of the third quarter. That stretch was capped by a three, followed by a steal and breakaway dunk that evened the score at 55 with 7:25 left in the quarter.
Gordon finished with 16 points in the quarter, baseline spin and dunk to open a 73-62 lead. Ross three with 10 seconds left sent Orlando into the fourth with a 76-62 lead. The Magic shot 50 percent from the field and didn’t commit a single turnover in the quarter en route to outscoring the Heat 30-12 in the quarter.
Kelly Olynyk hit three three-pointers in the span of a minute and a half to cut the Magic lead to 81-75 with 8:16 remaining.
The Magic, who have made a habit this season of blowing double-digit leads, would not allow the Heat to get any closer. There were key offensive rebounds by Vucevic and Isaac, who also swarming on the defensive end...
Jonathan Isaac, elite NBA defender pic.twitter.com/5tF1bdmIhr— beyond the RK (@beyondtheRK) December 5, 2018
And Augustin hit some timely threes late in the fourth to seal the win.
Josh Richardson (20.3 points per game this season) was limited to six points on 2-of-14 shooting. After his quick start in the first, Whiteside didn’t score in the second half and finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. The Heat’s top three leading scorers were all off the bench: Winslow with 14, Olynyk with 13, and Dwyane Wade with 11. The Heat (9-14) now head on a six-game road trip of their own.
The Magic now return to Orlando. Seven of the next 11 games for Orlando will be on their home court, while two others played in Mexico City that will be considered home games.