ORLANDO – Was it the trade rumors, The trade request? Just another rough start?
For some reason, the Orlando got off to a slow, unfocused start against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, scoring only for 20 in the first quarter, allowing the Nuggets to close the quarter with a 30-15 lead.
With rumors of move before Thursday’s trade deadline heavily speculating trades of Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier, plus word leaking out that Gordon’s representative did indeed request a trade, it wasn’t hard to assume that the boys might be a little unfocused at the start of the game.
Evan Fournier was the spark of the night, Keeping the Magic going with another season high 31 point scoring night.
Nicola Vucevic scored 18 on a night where he had to go against fellow big man Nikola Jokic, on of the best players in the league. Gordon put in a strong effort with 13 points =, while Al Faros Aminu pitched in with a double double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Terrance Ross, Chaisson Randle, and Mo Bamba did not play due to injuries.
Denver did damage with their usual suspects, Nikola Jokic scored a team high 28 points for the night as part of a triple double (his 12th) with 15 rebounds and 10 assists. Jamal Murray added 21 points, Michel Porter Jr scored 18 points, and Will Barton had key shots all night for his 17 points.
The Magic did have their “never give up” attitude on Tuesday. Even though they ended the first half, trailing 61-39, they managed to battle back to chip away at the lead, getting it down to only a 5 point deficit on two separate occasions in the fourth quarter. But the Magic shot themselves in their won foot with missed opportunities and missed coverages.
Denver outscored the Magic 15-5 to close out the period, with Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Zeke Nnaji and PJ Dozier all making shots for Denver during that stretch.
The Magic hit the court again on Wednesday against Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and the Phoenix Suns at 8pm at the Amway Center.