The Magic ended their two-game road skid on Monday night with a quintessential Steve Clifford win. The defense was smothering, the mistakes were few, and the offense was...good enough to not lose.
After a very up-and-down six-game road trip, where the Magic managed to both beat the Western Conference-leading Lakers and lose to the bottom-feeding Warriors, Orlando was able to get back to their identity for an encouraging divisional win before they return to their home floor.
The first quarter was hard to watch, as the Magic managed just 19 points on 30 percent shooting. They never faltered, however, and kept the game close through defense until riding a 14-1 run into a lead they would never relinquish.
As is always expected with Magic basketball, some ill-advised shots prompted a Hornets comeback in the third quarter, but another Orlando run shut the door in this relatively stress-free win. The Magic led by as much as 26 and forced the Hornets to play their style after settling in during the second quarter.
Amid this season of slight inconsistency, this win was the exact opposite of that. The Hornets had a 14-1 run to start the game, the Magic answered with their own 14-1 run and then used another 14-3 run to widen the gap in the third quarter.
Terrence Ross was huge for the Magic, as he was essentially their only offense during the lean start. Ross had 16 of the Magic’s 51 points at the half and was red hot from deep, hitting 5 of his first 6 threes.
Once Ross cooled off, Fournier picked right up where he left off, scoring 26 points on an absurd 10-of-14 from the floor and 6-of-8 from three.
There was a little bit of everything from the Magic’s cast of characters, as this game featured some dynamic passes from Markelle Fultz, electrifying dunks from Mo Bamba, and a diverse game from Aaron Gordon, despite his shot not falling.
This win capped off Orlando’s road trip at 3-3, and they return home to play the Thunder (25-19) on Wednesday, and then the Celtics (27-14, game in progress) on Friday at the Amway Center.