Magic Cool Off The Heat In Season Opener

Magic Start The Season With A 116-109 Victory Over Miami

Opening Night has finally arrived for the Orlando Magic and it could not have come sooner for thousands of hungry Magic fans. This year Orlando is opening its season with mixed expectations as there are several new faces on the roster and plenty of untapped potential. But what makes this Opening Night even more exciting is that it’s against an in-state rival, the Miami Heat.

Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) drives to the basket between Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson (0) and forward Justise Winslow, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. The Magic won 116-109. Photo: AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack.

Early on both teams started out sloppy, but after several minutes, Miami was able to strike first blood. However, it did not take long for Orlando to respond with some high-flying dunks from Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic. From there both teams traded baskets until the Magic began their “Opening Night “block party” with a handful of blocks from Gordon and Vucevic. Midway through the first the Heat began to pull away as the Magic went cold. That was until Jonathon Simmons posterized three Miami players on a highlight-reel dunk to pull within three. The quarter ended with the Heat clinging to a five-point lead.

In the second quarter, the Magic’s reserves were able to hold their own and pulled to within two on a corner three from newcomer Jonathon Simmons. After a few more minutes of going shot for shot with the Heat, Orlando’s starters came back in the game. And within a possession or two they were able to tie the game up at 47 all on a jumper from Evan Founier. The Magic then took a 4-point lead on back-to-back dunks by Fournier and Gordon.

Coming out of the half the Magic extended their lead to 12 on another thunderous slam by Gordon. From there it was even more firepower for Orlando as Terrance Ross kept the offensive explosion going with a three to go up 15. But the outside shooting didn’t stop there, Elfrid Payton knocked down a three of his own just moments later. As the quarter wore on Orlando kept pouring it on to maintain their double-digit lead over the Heat.

Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (2) is fouled by Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) while going up for a shot as center Hassan Whiteside (21) helps defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. The Magic won 116-109. Photo: AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack.

Orlando kicked off the 4th quarter with their 2nd unit who quickly brought the lead back to 15 for the Magic. And it was the entire bench having their way with the Heat. Even rookie Johnathan Isaac got in on the fun with a put-back slam. At about the half-way point of the 4th Coach Vogel turned to his starters once again to put the game out of reach. Surprisingly the re-insertion of the starters had the opposite effect, as Orlando watched their lead shrink to 4 with just over 2 and a half minutes to play. Down the stretch Orlando stepped up its defense, and were able to pull away for the 116-109 victory on opening night.

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Kip Michalak is a former 3-sport collegiate athlete who has been covering the NBA as an Orlando Magic Insider for the past 3 seasons. Kip has also covered high school sports in Tampa Bay for 5 years. In addition to his basketball reporting Kip has covered a handful of major sporting events, which include: 2015 NCAA Women’s Final Four 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final 2016 NCAA Frozen Four 2016 Outback Bowl