ORLANDO – Interesting Stat: The Orlando Magic have now hit at least 1 three pointer in 1,019 consecutive games dating back to March 17th, 2007. That is the 5th longest active streak in the NBA.
Well, the Orlando Magic are now 2-0 in the new decade after crushing the now 25-10 Miami Heat 105-85.
However, something notable about the Magic so far this season, they’ve been trending in spurts of playing up and down to their competition. Recently, Orlando beat the Philadelphia 76ers, then lost embarrassingly to the Atlanta Hawks and tonight absolutely dominated the Miami Heat without their best defender Jonathan Isaac.
Aaron Gordon, however returned to action tonight, posting a stat line of 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists as well as guarding All-Star Forward Jimmy Butler. “Be physical with him. Make it difficult for him. Just make him use a lot of energy to get his buckets, but he’s a talented ball player”, Gordon on defending Butler.
Nikola Vucevic struggled with his shot early going 3-11 to start, but finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists on 7-17 shooting. Markelle Fultz wasn’t able to find his offensive rhythm tonight but, was still very active on the defensive side of the ball amassing 6 steals.
At halftime, Orlando led the Heat 56-44. By the end of the 3rd quarter, Miami scored 35 points in the period, cutting the deficit to 5. They did this by knocking down their three’s especially when open. Miami had only shot 2-17 from distance in the first half, before going 5-10 from three-point range in the 3rd quarter.
Unfortunately for Miami, their comeback was put to a screeching halt, as Orlando held them to just 6 points in the 4th quarter which is a new team low for least points scored in a quarter. The previous low for least points scored in a quarter for Miami was 7 points against the Orlando Magic back in 2000.
“But Aaron [Gordon] definitely gave us a physicality. And the other thing is, again, he has the ability to defend primary scorers and make it hard on them, which is hard to do”, said Coach Clifford on Aaron Gordon’s impact.
Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra on the Heat’s 4th quarter struggles: “Now before we even say anything about us, you have to give credit where it’s due, to the Orlando Magic. They absolutely stifled us, choked us offensively. We didn’t help matters in terms of defensively just a lot of mental errors and mistakes and we weren’t flying around like we were, certainly like last night.”
Terrence Ross was the high man for Orlando with a game high of 25 points off the bench, connecting on 6 of his 10 three-point attempts. Coach Steve Clifford on Terrence Ross, “Before watching obviously, T Ross [Terrence Ross] was terrific.”
Coach Clifford also highlighted the importance of Khem Birch’s impact on getting Ross open for his three’s, saying “He just has a good feel for screening. It’s such an important part of the game. When he is out there, it helps all those guys, but especially T Ross.
What’s worth paying attention to, is 35 games into the season, the Heat are nearly unbeatable at home with a record of 16-1. However, on the road, it’s a different story as they were 9-8 on the road coming into this game.
Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo were efficient, with Butler nearly notching a triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists on 7-10 shooting. Adebayo finished with a double-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds on 5-8 shooting.
“I think that whenever we’re making shots, we’re happy, we’re celebrating, we’re ra-ra-ing and that’s not who we are, because we need to be able to rely on the defense” said Butler on the team’s defensive struggles.
Butler’s teammate, rookie Tyler Herro struggled tonight. Herro and Butler are known to have a close friendship and when asked about what Herro needs to hear going forward, Butler simply said “Guard somebody.”
Tonight, was unequivocally a great team win for the Magic.
Next, on the second of a back to back, the Magic shift their focus to Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz who are coming off a 2-game winning streak.