Magic Musings: Orlando snaps losing streak in emphatic fashion
The Orlando Magic snapped a six-game losing streak Monday night in a fashion that was equal parts emphatic and unexpected.
Shooting a season-high 59.3 percent from the floor and getting 33 points from both Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo, the Magic led practically from start to finish and came away with a 121-114 victory over the Chicago Bulls, the team with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
By pushing the tempo at almost every opportunity, the Magic caught the Bulls off guard. Not even the absences of Tobias Harris (sprained left ankle) and Evan Fournier (sprained right knee) for the second game in a row proved to be an obstacle as the Magic took a 15-point lead midway through the second quarter and increased that margin to 17 late in the third quarter on Vucevic's resounding left-handed dunk over Pau Gasol.
Rookie Elfrid Payton had perhaps his most efficient game yet, handing out seven assists while turning the ball over just once in almost 33 minutes. Another rookie, Devyn Marble, played under control as well in his second start in place of Harris.
Gasol finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds, while Derrick Rose had 18 points in his first game against the Magic in almost three years.
The win improved the Magic's record to 14-27 halfway through the 82-game season. They were 11-30 after 41 games a year ago.
THE TURNING POINT
The Bulls could have gotten to within three points of the lead with 2:17 remaining, but Joakim Noah missed both of his free-throw attempts. Oladipo's layup on the Magic's next possession put them up 111-104.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Vucevic nearly matched the career-high 34-point game he turned in Saturday night at Portland and also pulled down 11 rebounds.
STAT OF THE GAME
The 121 points were the most by the Magic since their 129-121 double-overtime victory last Feb. 21 against New York. They went into the game 28th in the NBA in scoring, averaging 93.6 points a contest.
Wednesday night vs. Houston, 7 p.m.