The Orlando Magic were glad to be back home following a challenging west coast road trip. After losing three of four in the Pacific Time Zone, including Saturday’s 121-84 blowout in Portland, the Magic hung on for a 116-110 win over the Denver Nuggets. on Tuesday at the Amway Center.
Still playing without point guard Elfrid Payton and center Nikola Vucevic, the Magic figured out other ways to score. They also played just enough defense to come away with the win.
The Magic took the early lead and extended it to 26-16 on a three-pointer by Evan Fournier with 4:46 remaining in the quarter. They led 32-25 after the first quarter.
Denver trailed only 48-44 with 4:24 left in the half, but the Magic closed the half on a 13-2 run to go up by 61-46 at half time. Orlando pressured the Nuggets into 11 first half turnovers.
The Magic held an 81-63 lead with four minutes remaining in the third quarter, but went cold. The Nuggets closed the period on a 16-4 run to cut the lead to four entering the final period.
With 7:48 remaining, Denver trailed only 92-87. Orlando went on an 8-0 run over the next 1:24, capped by Victor Oladipo taking a rebound and going coast-to-coast for a driving layup. The Nuggets made one last charge, cutting the lead to 114-110 in the closing seconds, but the Magic hung on for the win.
“We had good energy tonight, particularly in the first half,” said Magic Coach Scott Skiles. “Then we came out in the third, carried it through and built a nice lead.”
Fournier had a huge game for the Magic, pouring in 30 points. He knocked down five of nine three point attempts. Jason Smith continued his recent strong play with 25 points and 13 rebounds off the bench.
“He was making his pick and pop shot tonight and we were doing a pretty good job of finding him,” said Skiles. “He was pretty much open all night and he can get in a rhythm like that and knock them down.”
The Nuggets placed seven players in double figures, led by Gary Harris’s 18 points. Will Barton had 15.
Orlando improved to 29-37, good for 11th place in the Eastern Conference. They are 4.5 games out of a playoff spot. Next up is a trip to Charlotte on Wednesday night to face the Hornets.