ORLANDO, Fla. — Aaron Gordon scored a season-best 38 points, Evan Fournier added 31 and the Orlando Magic held off a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Brooklyn Nets to win 121-113 on Friday night.
The Magic overcame Kyrie Irving’s season-best 43 points to end a nine-game losing streak and stop Brooklyn’s winning streak at six games. The Nets also had their franchise-record, eight-game road winning halted.
Orlando led 103-84 at the end of the third quarter, but the Nets opened the fourth with a 16-1 run. However, the Nets would get no closer than 104-100 after Gordon and Fournier revived the Magic offence .
Gordon tipped in an airball that gave Orlando a 114-105 lead and his 3-pointer seconds later sealed the victory.
Two nights after rallying from 16 points down in a win in Indiana, the Nets were trying to pull off their second-largest comeback in a win this season. However, the Nets couldn’t overcome an off night by superstar guard James Harden and an Orlando team that shot 51.2% from the floor and drilled a season-best 21 3-pointers.
Irving scored at least 40 points for a third time this season, but he had just seven in the fourth quarter. Harden snapped a streak of 14 straight games with at least 20 points when he finished with 19. He made only 4 of 16 shots and 2 of 9 3s.
Gordon was 14 of 20 and 7 of 8 on 3s to easily surpass his previous season high of 24 points. Nikola Vucevic added 22 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists for Orlando.
The Magic were playing less than 24 hours after losing 94-93 to the Knicks in New York. With a chance to win in the closing seconds, Fournier botched a pick-and-roll and angrily ripped his jersey apart.
Up two at the half, the Magic extended their lead to 103-84 by making 14 of 21 shots and 6-of-9 3s in the third period. Gordon made all five of his third-quarter shots and had 33 points by the start of the fourth.
Orlando led 64-62 at the break after making 13 3-pointers in the first half to tie a franchise record. Gordon, who missed 16 of the previous 17 games with an ankle injury, had 21 points and four 3s by halftime. Gordon, Fournier and Chasson Randle combined to make 12-of-15 first-half 3s.
Harden missed seven of his first eight shots and picked up three early fouls as Brooklyn fell into an early 12-point hole. However, the Nets rallied around the playmaking brilliance of Irving, who scored his team’s final 13 points of the second quarter. Irving had 24 points by halftime and added a dazzling between-the-legs assist to set up Joe Harris' 3-pointer.
GRIFFIN GETTING CLOSER
While teammate Jeff Green implied that he could see Blake Griffin making his Nets’ debut in the coming days, coach Steve Nash wouldn’t commit to a timetable for the forward who signed with the franchise on March 8. Nash was highly complimentary of the work that Griffin has done to sharpen his game after being out of action since Feb. 12 when he was a member of the Detroit Pistons.
“I don’t know, but I think he is getting closer and he is doing great,” Nash said when asked if Griffin could play on Sunday against Washington. “He looks good, he’s improving and he’s working hard off the floor, as well. So, he’s addressing all of the things he needs to address to land safely back in the game and to transition into our team.”
Nets: Oddly, Brooklyn has been dominant in mid-week games (21-3), but just mediocre in games played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (now 8-10). … Brooklyn’s improved defence allowed Orlando — 30th in the league in shooting and 23rd in 3-point accuracy — to shoot 57.1% and make 7 of 13 3s in the first quarter. … Harden picked up three fouls in his first 11 minutes on the court.
Magic: Terrence Ross, one of the NBA’s most potent scoring reserves, missed his fifth game because of a sore right knee. Orlando is 0-5 when Ross doesn’t play. … Orlando came into Friday having lost an NBA-most 214 players games to injury. Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Issac are out with season-ending injuries, while 10 others have missed time this season.
Nets: Host Washington on Sunday night.
Magic: At Boston on Sunday afternoon.
John Denton, The Associated Press