Magic hold off Rockets
Gordon, Vucevic help hot Magic win back-to-back combo 3rd time this season
Orlando tops Houston for second straight win against top team.
Fresh off rallying to beat the Boston Celtics, the Orlando Magic found themselves pulling off another comeback against the Houston Rockets.
Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic scored 22 points apiece and Terrence Ross scored eight points in the fourth quarter as the Magic rallied from a late seven-point deficit to beat the Rockets 116-109 Sunday night at Amway Center.
Evan Fournier finished with 19 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:37 to play, and Ross finished with 17 points for the Magic, who won the second game of their home back-to-back set.
James Harden came within one rebound of his seventh triple-double of the season, finishing with 38 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. It was the 16th consecutive game during which he has reached the 30-point mark. It was the 16th straight game he has reached the 30-point mark, tying Kobe Bryant’s streak set in 2003. Those two mark the NBA’s longest since Wilt Chamberlain strung together 20 such performances in 1964, according to NBA statistics.
Winter Park alum Austin Rivers had a happy homecoming of sorts, putting up 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting. He was 4-of-7 from the 3-point line.
But this one belonged to a Magic club that just wouldn’t quit.
After beating Boston on Saturday night, Orlando (19-24) swept a back-to-back combo for the third time this season.
The Magic largely contained Harden on the perimeter. He was just 1-of-17 from the 3-point line, but he was able to get in the lane with frequency. There, he either put up short floaters or lobbed the ball to teammates, with Rockets center Clint Capela benefiting the most.
As it was Saturday against the Celtics, the free-throw line was a key factor for the Magic. They hit 25 of 28 attempts.
The Magic never trailed by more than eight points in the third quarter and used an 11-3 run during a 4:33 stretch to go ahead 86-85 on two Ross free throws at the 1:14 mark.
But the Rockets built a four-point lead by the end of the quarter, then stretched the lead to 10 early in the fourth on a floater by Rivers.
The Magic wouldn’t go away. They closed within 100-96 on a pull-up 17-footer by Ross.
It was a 105-98 deficit before the Magic’s 3-point shooting, driven by good ball movement, carried them late.
First Ross hit a 3 to put the Magic up 106-105. Then after Harden scored in the lane, Fournier took a pass from D.J. Augustin and knocked down a 3 that put the Magic ahead to stay and brought a roar from the Amway Center crowd.
Augustin followed with another 3 before Vucevic knocked down a hook shot to give the Magic a 114-107 advantage.
When the Rockets couldn’t connect from the field down the stretch, the Magic had their second straight win against a conference-title-contending team.
“It feels good. It feels really, really good,” Fournier said of the backto-back wins. “It means a lot. It means a lot to have two wins against two good teams.”
The Magic will now set their sights on Wednesday’s game at Detroit. The two teams are separated by just a few percentage points in the Eastern Conference standings. They trail Charlotte by a halfgame for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
“We played together,” said Ross, who was 3-for-5 from the field in the fourth quarter. “It was a tough game, just like last night [against the Celtics]. We did a good job of staying together and playing for each other and making plays down the stretch.”
Aaron Gordon of the Magic goes to the basket between James Ennis III, left, and Gerald Green of the Rockets during the second half Sunday.
Nikola Vucevic of the Magic makes a move to get past the Rockets’ Clint Capela on Sunday at Amway Center.
The Houston Rockets’ James Harden passes the ball under pressure from the Orlando Magic’s Nikola Vucevic on Sunday at Amway Center. JOHN RAOUX/AP