The Brooklyn Nets were in town waiting for Orlando while the Magic played the front end of a back-to-back in New York Thursday.
But surprisingly, Orlando was the team that looked like they had the fresh legs Friday night. Behind 21 three-point field goals (two away from a franchise record), the Magic defeated the Brooklyn Nets 121-113 at the Amway Center.
Aaron Gordon, who has been at the center of rumors around the league as the NBA’s Trade Deadline approaches next week, scored a season-high 38 points (14-20 FGA’s, 7-8 3PTA’s) to lead Orlando’s offensive attack.
Evan Fournier, who turned the ball over with the game on the line on Orlando’s final possession Thursday night in New York, scored 31 points (6-8 3PTA’s).
The Magic finished with a +33 differential on points coming from three-point field goals against the top offensive team in the league.
Orlando’s success shooting the basketball helped them build an early lead in the contest. Gordon charged out of the gates, scoring nine points in the game’s first six minutes (including two three-point field goals).
And Chasson Randle, who got the start Friday night due to Michael Carter-Williams missing his second straight game (illness), gave the Magic a huge lift - scoring 10 points (3 for 4 on three-point field goal attempts) in the first quarter.
Orlando built a double-digit lead on Brooklyn midway through the second quarter following a three-point field goal by Fournier from the left wing. Six straight points by Joe Harris helped cut into Orlando’s lead, that is until Nikola Vucevic found Randle wide open for another three-point field goal from the left corner.
Gordon continued his stellar play in the second quarter. He led all Magic scorers with 21 points in the first half.
The Magic couldn’t miss in the first half, knocking down a season-high 13 three-point field goals (season high in any half - 4 from Gordon, 4 from Randle, 4 from Fournier). In fact, the 13 three-point field goals tied a franchise record for three’s in a half.
All-Star guard Kyrie Irving took over the game to close out the first half, scoring 13 of his 15 second quarter points in the final three minutes of the second quarter. Despite Orlando’s hot shooting, they only led Brooklyn by two points at intermission.
Orlando blitzed Brooklyn coming out of the half, running out on a 28-14 to open the third quarter. Vucevic, who was seemingly the only Magic player on the floor not playing well in the first half, started to get going in the third period.
Orlando’s All-Star center hit back-to-back three-point field goals on consecutive Magic offensive possessions, followed by a couple free throws and a midrange jumper (all in the span of two minutes) which pushed Orlando’s lead all the way to 17 points.
Dwayne Bacon buried a three as the shot clock expired to close out the third quarter, a possession that kind of summed up how the night went for the Magic. Gordon was dribbling entirely too much, the possession was going nowhere fast, and then Bacon hit a big shot as the clock expired to put the Magic up by 19 heading into the fourth.
However, Coach Clifford was forced to burn two rather quick timeouts within the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. Brooklyn opened the period on an 11-0 run, a stretch that included particularly rough play by Mo Bamba. Clifford was forced to bring Vucevic back with 9:52 remaining in the game, much earlier than he normally would.
In fact, Orlando’s first field goal of the fourth quarter finally came with 5:37 left in the game.
Fournier hit a big shot with just over four minutes remaining, crossing his man over from the left wing, then knocking-down a three to put the Magic up by nine. But James Harden immediately answered with a three of his own to cut the game to a two possession contest.
Brooklyn had their opportunities down the stretch to draw even with the home team, but missed countless wide open three-point attempts.
The Nets finished the game 10 for 37 from beyond the arc (27 percent), compared to Orlando’s 52.5 percentage on three-point field goals (21 for 40).
In the end, the night belonged to Gordon - who sealed the game with a tip-in and a final three-point field goal in the contest’s final moments.
Irving led all scorers in the game with 43 points, Harden had a relatively quiet night (by his standards), finishing with 19 points (on 4 of 16 shooting) and 9 assists.
The Magic now head back on the road, this time to Boston for a Sunday afternoon tilt (3:30 EST tip).