It went from a 17-point Magic lead in the third quarter to a 13-point Magic deficit in the fourth quarter.
It went from the Evan Fournier Game (22 of his season-high 28 points in the first half) to the Nikola Vucevic Game (third career triple-double) to the Chuma Okeke Game (best game of his young career) to the Michael Carter-Williams Game (suffocating defense on Steph Curry’s potential game-tying three).
It went from what seemed like a Magic victory to what seemed like a Warriors victory to what seemed like and turned out to be a Magic victory as they went on to defeat Golden State, 124-120, in a thriller at Amway Center.
Where to even begin? How about going all the way back to the starting lineups?
With the Warriors playing small-ball with all of their bigs sidelined, Steve Clifford elected to do the opposite and go big, inserting Khem Birch into the starting lineup alongside Nikola Vucevic, the returning James Ennis, Evan Fournier and Michael Carter-Williams for the Magic’s 12th starting lineup variation of the season. The purpose was to have an advantage on the offensive glass. That, though, wasn’t entirely necessary in the first with the Magic shooting 54.5% in the opening quarter behind Evan Fournier’s 13 points (5-for-7, 3 of 5 from three). Fournier’s third three of the first gave the Magic a 30-15 lead with 4:44 to go.
But Mychal Mulder responded with back-to-back threes to spark a 16-2 Warriors run. The Magic’s 15-point lead was completely erased in 4:15 of gametime, but Terrence Ross hit a three with 16 seconds left in the quarter to send them into the second up 37-34. Ross had nine points in the quarter, going 4 of 6 from the field.
Nikola Vucevic, after struggling with his shot on Wednesday against the Knicks, was back to his efficient, stat-sheet-stuffing-self against the Warriors, scoring 10 of his 15 first-half points in the second. He was well on his way to a triple-double by the time the second quarter ended, with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, while shooting 7-for-11 from the field. That includes this throwdown....
Fournier scored the final seven points of the half as the Magic closed the half on a 9-0 run to go up 64-51 heading into the break.
The Magic shot 51 percent in the half, connecting on 8 of 17 attempts from deep (47.1%). Steph Curry, also coming off a poor shooting performance in his previous game, was held in check by MCW, who helped limit him to 11 points at the half on 4-for-14 shooting. The Warriors overall made just 8 of 21 threes and shot 44.2% from three.
The Magic lead reached 17 points on a bucket by Vooch with 9:26 to go in the third. The Warriors then turned up their defense, forcing the Magic into turnovers that led to easy buckets at the other end. An 12-0 run cut the Magic lead to 71-66. Golden State continued chipping away by forcing turnovers or flat out beating the Magic down court with Kelly Oubre scoring 13 points in the quarter and Andrew Wiggins adding 12 as the two got into the paint and combined to shoot 11-for-15 in the third. A late 8-0 run by the Warriors helped them regain the lead in the closing minutes of the third.
Draymond Green nailed a three just before the buzzer to give Golden State a 94-93 lead heading into the fourth. The Warriors shot 62.1% in the third while posting their highest scoring quarter of the season, outscoring the Magic 43-29 in the third.
The Warriors opened the fourth on a 12-0 run that pushed the Warriors’ lead to 106-93. The Magic’s first point of the fourth didn’t come until Fournier drained a three with 8:23 to go, cutting the Warriors lead to 106-96. Carter-Williams then hit a corner three to pull the Magic within 7. Chuma Okeke later followed his own rejection on one end with an easy two in the paint off a feed from Vooch at the other, cutting the Warriors’ lead to 108-104 with 6:28 remaining.
A jumper by Ross made it a one possession game at 109-106, but Damion Lee answered with a three that pushed the lead to six with 5:24 to go.
Okeke then blocked a layup attempt by Curry and went down court and drained a catch-and-shoot three to pull the Magic back within three. Vooch followed with a hook shot and then a jumper to Orlando up, 113-112 with three minutes left. After a floater by Steph gave the lead back to the Warriors, Okeke drained another three off a kick out by Vooch for his 10th assist of the game to put the Magic in front at 116-114.
Ross, on the ensuing possession, curled around a screen from Vooch, received a pass from MCW and drained a straightaway three to make it 119-114. A pair of free throws by MCW seemingly sealed the win...
....Not so much when Steph Curry is on the floor. Curry drained threes on consecutive possessions to pull the Warriors within 121-120 with 23.2 seconds to go. After a pair of Vucevic free throws, the Steph game-tying three-point attempt was inevitable, and the Magic doubled him at the perimeter. He briefly escaped before Carter-Williams caught up and blanketed him, forcing Curry into an off-balanced high-arching shot that drew air.
James Ennis then hit one of two free throws to give the Magic a second straight win.
Vucevic made another All-Star statement by posting his third career triple-double, finishing with 30 points (13-for-23 FG), 16 rebounds and 10 assists.
With 30 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists, @OrlandoMagic center @NikolaVucevic has recorded the third triple-double of his @NBA career.— Orlando Magic PR (@Magic_PR) February 20, 2021
His other two were on 12/9/17 at Atlanta (31/13/10) and 10/20/18 vs Philadelphia (27/13/12).#MagicTogether
Fournier finished with a season-best 28 points while shooting 11-for-18 from the field, including 5 of 9 from three, and adding 6 assists and four rebounds. Ross followed up his season-high 30-point game with a 24-point performance.
Okeke scored 8 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, finishing the game 3 of 4 from deep in 22 minutes. Equally as impressive to the efficient shooting from deep were his three blocked shots in the game (the Magic had eight rejections overall), in addition to 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
The Magic shot 48.9% for the game, knocking down 18 of their 43 three-point attempts...and if you’re curious, they grabbed eight offensive rebounds to the Warriors’ nine.
Carter-Williams had a dismal shooting night (2-for-13) but earned his paycheck by pestering Curry all night. Steph finished with 29 points but required 29 shots to do so, as he struggled from deep for the second straight game, going just 6-for-16. Oubre added 26 points for the Warriors, who were denied a third straight win.
A second straight impressive victory for the Magic, who couldn’t have asked for a better start to the homestand. They now have back-to-back wins for the first time since the first week of January. They’ll look to make it three in a row when they host the Pistons on Sunday.