After clenching a quality win over Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, the Orlando Magic returned to Amway to begin their homestead against James Harden and the Houston Rockets, featuring former Magic center, Dwight Howard. Playing without Tobias Harris for the third straight game & continuing with experiment with the up-tempo style offense, the Magic got a big night from Victor Oladipo to grab their second consecutive quality win.
Just like with the previous game against Chicago, the Magic got off to a great start. Pushing the pace, and getting into their offensive sets quickly, the Magic were able to get some quality shots from Channing Frye, who knocked down three 3-point shots, leading the Magic to a quick 11-2 lead on the Rockets. Defensively, the Magic got in the Rockets face, causing six first quarter turnovers which led to eight points. Magic led 29-19 after the first.
Things began to slow down for the Magic in the second quarter. The Rockets were able to rip off a 7-0 run and cut the Magic’s lead down to three. Things got a bit scary for the Magic when Victor Oladipo collided knees with Channing Frye late in the second. Oladipo would turn out to be okay and was able to make some timely plays, including knocking down a couple of much needed three-pointers. Magic led 55-52 heading into the half.
Coming out of halftime, the Magic seemed to get away from their identity they’re trying to establish. Old habits die hard as the Magic went back to playing half-court basketball. Things didn’t go well defensively either as the Magic couldn’t put together stops. The Rockets took advantage and went on a 19-9 run, taking an 85-84 lead heading into the final stanza of the game.
Orlando’s offense became stagnate in the opening minutes of the final quarter. Fortunately, the Magic got back to their roots when Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo got back on the court together. The offense sped up, and the defense gave James Harden and Patrick Beverly fits. After Trevor Ariza knocked down a big three for the Rockets, the Magic got even bigger plays from Elfrid Payton, Channing Frye, and Nikola Vucevic with Victor Oladipo putting the game on ice with a 360 dunk. The Magic would go on to win 120-113.
James Harden lead the Rockets with a double-double (26 points, 10 assists). Dwight Howard chipped in 23 points while Patrick Beverly added 17. Trevor Ariza had an efficient 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Donatas Motiejunas finished with 12.
Victor Oladipo lead all scorers with 32 points. Nikola Vucevic turned in his league-leading 24th double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Elfrid Payton and Channing Frye both notched 15 points apiece, while Ben Gordon provided 12 off the bench.