Orlando Magic at Phoenix Suns game preview
Plenty of words can be used to describe how teams play under coach Scott Skiles: gritty, scrappy and tough, to name a few. The latest win from his Orlando Magic was more ugly than anything.
Skiles’ former team was just content to finally earn a victory any way it could.
The Magic look for their seventh win in eight games Wednesday night when they visit a Phoenix Suns team hoping to rebound from a bumpy road trip.
Orlando (12-9) has turned a corner in its first season with Skiles, whose first head coaching job was with Phoenix from 1999-2002. The Magic have followed a perfect three-game homestand with a 3-1 start to their five-game road trip.
The latest win wasn’t too easy on the eyes.
While opening a back-to-back in Denver on Tuesday, the Magic finished with their second-lowest point total, had 20 turnovers and one made 3-pointer — and somehow escaped with an 85-74 win.
Orlando trailed by as many as nine in the second quarter but held the Nuggets to 27 points in the second half.
"It wasn’t the prettiest, but we’ll take any win," Tobias Harris said. "We have to figure out a way to get off to a little bit better start… They made a run, but we kept coming back. That was a good sign for us."
Usually a good indication of an Orlando loss is poor shooting from 3-point range. The Magic were 1-6 while shooting worse than 30.5 percent from long distance before Tuesday’s 1-for-16 performance.
Orlando, 1-2 in the second game of back-to-backs, was in danger of snapping an almost nine-year streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer until Evan Fournier knocked down a key one with 2:38 left. The Magic have made a 3 in 677 straight games dating to 2007.
"That felt good," Fournier said. "But we have to play better than that."
The Magic outscored Denver 54-34 in the paint and have a plus-90 edge inside on their last five opponents.
Phoenix (9-13) finally pulled out a late win from a deflating six-game road trip. The Suns were one quarter away from ending the trip with five consecutive losses but rallied from 16 points down for Monday’s 103-101 win at Chicago.
The Suns had coughed up four straight fourth-quarter leads, but one night after losing on an alley-oop with less than a second left in Memphis, Mirza Teletovic sank a fade-away putback with 0.3 on the clock.
Phoenix escaped with just its second win in 10 games after dropping its previous four by a combined 13 points.
"I know we put ourselves in position to win, but nothing’s given in this league," Brandon Knight said. "You have to go out and take it. After losing three or four games like that, I think we realize that."
The Suns played their road trip without center Tyson Chandler, whose return from a hamstring injury is still unclear. Alex Len started all six games at center and averaged 10.0 points and 7.5 rebounds, capped by a 15-point effort against the Bulls.
The Suns have won three of four in this series but have lost three of the last four in Phoenix.
While Orlando has won three of its last four road games after opening the season 2-5 away from home, Phoenix has lost its last three at home following a 5-2 start.