ORLANDO, Fla. — Their fortunes may have fluctuated over the course of 25 years. But almost without fail, the Orlando Magic have looked sharp when it comes to their home openers.
That habit continued as they used strong efforts from Arron Afflalo and Maurice Harkless to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 110-90. The Magic led by as many as 30 points in improving their record to 1-2 for the season and 18-7 in home openers.
Afflalo scored 15 of his 30 points in the third quarter, when the Magic turned the game into a blowout. Harkless had 20 points, eight rebounds and four steals before coach Jacque Vaughn gave him the entire fourth quarter off.
Despite learning earlier Friday that they would be without reserve power forward Solomon Jones indefinitely after he tore cartilage in his left knee, the Magic didn’t lose much when it came to defense or rebounding.
They held the Pelicans to 34.8 percent shooting, and while Anthony Davis — the No. 1 draft pick a year ago — grabbed 17 rebounds, the Magic had an edge in that category most of the night.
For a team widely projected as being one of the five weakest in the NBA, there was not much with which to quibble.
The turning point
The Magic closed out a quarter impressively for the first time by going on a 10-0 run in taking a 53-33 lead just before halftime. Victor Oladipo came up with a steal at halfcourt and scooped a shot around the arms of 7-footer Jason Smith, and that was followed by Harkless nailing a 3-pointer from the corner as the shot clock expired.
Although Pelicans guard Eric Gordon made a layup to end the half, an 18-point lead was no doubt appreciated by a team that was never ahead by double digits at Indiana or Minnesota.
The difference maker
While Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic got the Magic off to a good start, it was Harkless who built on that early momentum. Looking far more aggressive than he did in the overtime loss to the Timberwolves, the 20-year-old forward had 16 points by halftime.
Stat of the night
After being outshot 66-28 from the free-throw line in their first two games, the Magic had a 21-9 advantage over the Pelicans in attempts through three quarters.