The Nuggets got their revenge on a Magic team that handed them what was probably their worst loss of the season.
Denver jumped out to a big lead early and the game was never in doubt as the Magic lost 121-111 to wrap up their four-game road trip out west.
The Magic, who defeated the Nuggets 108-103 on Dec. 1, made just three of their first 12 shots while also committing five turnovers during that stretch. The Nuggets took an early 19-7 lead when Nikola Jokic found a cutting Jeff Green for an uncontested layup that capped a 14-3 run. Chuma Okeke stopped the run by hitting his second three of the quarter to pull Orlando within nine. Okeke was the only member of the Magic to hit a three in the quarter as Orlando went 2-for-12 from deep and shot just 23.8 percent overall in the first.
Bryn Forbes and DeMarcus Cousins later hit back-to-back threes to increase the lead to 27-12. The Nuggets, despite committing seven turnovers themselves in the quarter, led 29-14 after the first thanks in part to going 5-for-11 from deep.
The outside shots continued to fall in the second as Forbes, Green and Facundo Campazzo all hit early threes to open a 40-18 lead. The Magic answered with a 7-0 run, capped by a Franz Wagner three and finger roll. Denver turnovers continued to keep the Magic within reach, with the Nuggets third straight turnover leading to a Jalen Suggs layup to pull the Magic within 48-36 with just under three minutes remaining in the second.
The Magic went into the half trailing 53-40. Wagner scored all 10 of his first-half points in the second to lead Orlando, which shot 38.5 percent in the half. Wagner and Okeke each had a pair of threes in the half to account for all of the Magic’s first-half makes from deep as the team shot 4-for-20. Both teams had 12 turnovers in what was a sloppy first half, but the Nuggets took better advantage by scoring easy points in transition, outscoring the Magic 15-2 in fast break points.
Anthony opened the third with a deep three to cut the deficit to 10. The Magic protected the ball well in the third and cut the lead down to single digits. Green then scored seven points during a 15-4 run by the Nuggets that pushed the lead back to 20 at 73-53.
Carter Jr. had 14 points in the third quarter on 7-for-11 shooting, scoring six straight for Orlando late in the quarter to help trim the Denver lead to 13 late. Forbes hit a runner off a broken play at the buzzer to send the Nuggets into the fourth up 85-70.
A three by Admiral Schofield ignited an 8-0 Magic run that again pulled the Magic within 12 with seven minutes remaining. After Bones Hyland followed with a three of a second-chance opportunity to make it 102-87, Gary Harris hit a three and Wagner followed with a reverse layup to cut it to 10 with 5:32 to play.
A three by Carter Jr. brought Orlando within 112-104 with 1:32 left, but Jokic answered with a corner three to seal the win.
Carter Jr. finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 12-for-22 from the field and going at Jokic inside and out...
Wagner had 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Suggs added 16 points and six rebounds, and Gary Harris had 15 points against his former team. Harris and Okeke each had four steals as Orlando finished with a season-high 16. Quiet game for Mo Bamba, who checked out with seven minutes left in the first quarter and din’t play the rest of the half. He finished with two points and three rebounds in 11 minutes.
Jokic had 26 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists. Gordon had 10 points, six rebounds and five of the Nuggets’ 22 turnovers.
The Magic return home to host the Hawks on Wednesday in their final game before the All-Star break.