ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic defeated the Brooklyn Nets 101-89 an a night where both teams had less than stellar performances, but one star shined brighter.
As the Magic struggled with 20 turnovers and the Nets couldn’t hit the side of a barn from 3, Markelle Fultz scored a career high 25 points including 2 from deep.
Not only that, Fultz scored 12 of his points in the 4th quarter, when his teammates really needed it. He also managed a career high of career makes (11) and career attempts (20).
“He was the difference in the game” said Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford, “I think he scored, didn’t he score 7 in a row?” he continued “He’s a confident kid and he’s getting better and better.”
Aaron Gordon agreed
“Kelle (Markelle Fultz) went crazy. He went crazy. He really took over the game, which is a beautiful thing. I’m super happy for him”
To begin the game, Wes Iwundu scored the teams first points with a 3-pointer, then Fultz scored the teams next 9 points.
The Nets corrected the ship and was able to get the 3’s to drop in the first quarter by getting shots from Joe Harris, Taurean Prince, Spencer Dinwiddie and Rodions Kurucs, keeping them on pace with the Magic to end the quarter 22-20 Orlando.
During the game, Orlando managed to build a 16 point lead over the Nets, and lead the game by 52-39 at the half. Joe Harris was carrying the scoring for Brooklyn, with the other starters only scoring 10 points combined in the first half, and only 52 in the whole game.
“They’ve been really good.” Said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson “this is just a stretch where I say the whole group is struggling a little bit right now. We’re going to need everybody to help us get out of this rut.”
The Nets tried to work out of that rut tonight, outscoring the Magic 32-23 in the third quarter. Spencer Dinwiddie woke up and pitched in 12 points in the 3rd quarter, and they fought with the magic and held them to 14% from 3.
The Magic woke up in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Nets 26-18 with 40% shooting from deep. Orlando dominated the rebounding game 59-46 and Fultz went on a 7 point run by himself, including a 3-point shot
“I think it was huge” said Fultz, “I was just out there playing in the flow of the game and being aggressive.”
Orlando’s other starters also had decent games. Gordon, who made a “throw-off-the-backboard dunk attempt that was thwarted with a foul by Wilson Chandler, scored 11 points and had 14 rebounds, Vucevic also had 11 and a whopping 24 rebounds. DJ Augustin had a great night, with 16 points on 50% shooting.
Wes Iwundu also had a solid night, scoring 12 points on 4 of 7 shooting and helping keep the Magic’s scrappy no-quit offense going with major pieces of the roster nursing major injuries.
Iwundu and Khem Birch have proved to be invaluable during this latest stretch of games.
The Magic have moved ahead of the Nets for the 7th spot in the playoffs if the season ended now. But with this being only game number 37, there’s a lotta basketball left to be played.
The Magic face the Washington Wizards on Wednesday at the Amway Center, and then head out on a west coast tour of games.