What tired legs?
The Orlando Magic successfully completed the second half of their back-to-back Wednesday night as they exploded offensively en route to a 128-114 win over the Phoenix Suns. The midweek contest marked Orlando’s fifth consecutive win at the Amway Center, as well as their second three-game winning streak of the early season.
Aaron Gordon enjoyed his best game of the season. The sixth-year forward was brilliant against the Suns, scoring a season-high 32 points (13-15 FGA’s).
“For the second night of a back-to-back, we had great energy and purpose of play,” Steve Clifford told reporters after the game. “And (obviously) you can’t play much better of a game than Aaron Gordon played.”
Wednesday night marked only the third time in franchise history that the Magic scored 125 points or more in back-to-back contests. Orlando had it all going on against Phoenix: 57 percent from the field, 14 three-point field goals (14-25 3PTA’s, 56%), 48 points from the bench, and a rebounding advantage over the Suns of 45-29. Orlando had three players score 20 or points in the game (Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Terrence Ross).
Neither team found much success getting defensive stops to begin the game as Phoenix and Orlando combined to make 12 of their first 20 attempts from the field. The Suns had the Magic completely spread out as they ran their “five-out” offense.
Suns center Frank Kaminsky, who got the start because Aron Baynes missed the contest with an injury (calf), led his team early with 13 first quarter points - including three three-point field goals (finished the game with 23 points, he averages 9.9 points per game). Phoenix scorched their way to six three-point field goals in the game’s opening period.
The turnover bug also bit the Magic a few times early in the game. Five first-quarter Orlando turnovers led to seven points for the Suns. Luckily for Orlando, Ross’ torch was lit early Wednesday evening. Ross scored 9 of his season-high 22 points in the first quarter.
The highlight of the first quarter came with 3:02 left in the period as forward Wes Iwundu delivered a beautiful back-door bounce-pass from the top of the key to a cutting Gordon. Gordon finished the play with authority, slamming a 360-degree dunk down over Kaminsky’s outstretched arm. Gordon returned the favor with just seconds remaining in the quarter, finding Iwundu in the open-court for a lay-in that just beat the buzzer.
Orlando found considerably more success defending the three-point line in the second quarter, holding Phoenix scoreless from beyond the arc in the period (0 for 9 on three-point field goals).
The Magic got a huge lift from Mohamed Bamba in the first half of Wednesday’s contest. Orlando’s former sixth overall pick had arguably the best single-quarter of his career in the second, scoring 7 points (3-3 FGA’s), grabbing 6 rebounds, and blocking 2 shots in the period.
D.J. Augustin chipped-in 9 of his 11 points in the second quarter as the Magic established their first significant lead of the game. Orlando outscored Phoenix 34-21 in the second period.
Gordon found his shot in a big way coming out of halftime, forcing Suns Head Coach Monty Williams to call timeout early in the third quarter after he connected on three consecutive outside jump-shots. Orlando jumped all over Phoenix to begin the second half, sprinting out on a 14-4 run.
Orlando’s starting back-court of Markelle Fultz and Fournier also found their groove in the third quarter, combining to score 17 points in the period as Orlando established their largest lead of the game. Fultz finished the game with 13 points and 5 assists.
Suns guard Devin Booker wasn’t going to go down quietly however. Phoenix’s talented fifth-year guard scored 9 of his 17 points in the third quarter.
But the night belonged to Gordon, whose jumper with just under one minute remaining in the third quarter put the Magic up by 22 points. Gordon finished the period with seven consecutive made field goals.
“He was great,” Clifford added after the game when asked about Gordon shaking the rust off after missing time due to a sore ankle. “The shots he hit, they were pure - the mid-range (shots), the three’s.”
Bamba was another great story against Phoenix, recording a double-double in his first back-to-back tilt of the season. Game 21 resulted in Bamba’s first double-double of the season (11 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks in 18 minutes).
Fournier had a relatively quiet/routine 21 points Wednesday night, marking the eighth time he’s scored 20 or points in his last ten games.
Kaminsky’s 23 points were a season-high for the fifth-year center who played for Steve Clifford during his time in Charlotte.
Now back within one game of a .500 record on the season, Orlando will take their three-game winning streak on the road to Cleveland for a Friday night tilt, tipoff at 7:00 PM EST.