Magic Musings: Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic lead charge again for Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Magic showed Wednesday night that their ability to put up points in bunches and knock off one of the NBA’s better teams was not a one-time thing.
In almost a carbon copy of their performance Monday night at Chicago, the Magic rode the play of Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo to defeat the Houston Rockets 120-113. For a team which had a 4-12 record at home and often looked lethargic in losing, this was quite a welcome change of pace.
"We just figured out the way to play," said Oladipo, who had 18 of his 32 points in the first half and also finished with six assists and three steals. "We realized that we have to play this way in order to be effective."
Less than a week ago, the Magic managed only 84 points in a loss at Los Angeles. Now they have posted consecutive games of 120 or more points for the first time since February 1996, which was Shaquille O’Neal’s last year in Orlando.
"What was that old Seinfeld Bizarro World (episode): It’s the Magic, but it’s not the Magic?" coach Jacque Vaughn cracked.
Despite missing Tobias Harris (sprained left ankle) for a third game in a row, the Magic had enough to hold off Dwight Howard and the Rockets down the stretch. Howard, who was roundly booed every time he touched the ball, ended up with 23 points but only eight rebounds as Vucevic ended up with better numbers than him in both categories.
Channing Frye broke out of a shooting slump by knocking down three 3-pointers in the opening four minutes. The Magic also got a lift from the return of Evan Fournier, who missed two games with a sprained right knee. Fournier had nine points in 13 minutes off the bench.
The Magic improved to 11-1 in games where they have scored at least 100 points.
THE TURNING POINT
In a fourth quarter which featured 11 lead changes, the Magic went ahead to stay on back-to-back baskets by rookie Elfrid Payton, who scored 12 of his 15 points in the final 12 minutes.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKERS
Oladipo and Vucevic, who combined for 66 points against the Bulls, finished with 32 and 25 respectively.
STAT OF THE GAME
Howard, a 58.8-percent free-throw shooter during his eight years with the Magic, hit all seven of his attempts from the line. The Magic and Rockets combined to go 43 of 49.
Friday night vs. Memphis, 7 p.m.