The 2020-21 Orlando Magic have accomplished something no other Magic team in any of the franchise’s prior 31 seasons ever did, including the two that ultimately reached the NBA Finals or any of the others that advanced far in the playoffs. This year’s group has begun their season 4-0 following Tuesday’s 118-107 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Magic are the NBA’s only 4-0 team this season and one of only two undefeated teams. The other is the 3-0 Atlanta Hawks.
Entering Tuesday’s action, Nikola Vucevic was four baskets away from passing Nick Anderson for No. 1 on the Magic’s all-time field goals made list. Before the first quarter was over, that was achieved. A 3-pointer with 3:43 left in the opening period put him over the top. Now in his ninth season with the Magic, Vucevic scored a game-high 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting overall and 3-of-4 from 3-point range in the win over the Thunder. The 7-footer is also No. 3 in team history in points, No. 2 in rebounds, No. 4 in blocks and No. 9 in assists.
Ever since the beginning of training camp, Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford and teammates have raved about Dwayne Bacon’s toughness, confidence and versatility. The 6-foot-6, four-year NBA veteran displayed all that and more in OKC on Tuesday. He made his first eight shots, including three early in the fourth quarter, and finished with 18 points. Several of those buckets came with Luguentz Dort, a tenacious defender, guarding him.
Just under the five-minute mark of the fourth and the Magic ahead by only five, Markelle Fultz drilled a 3-pointer, his third of the season. On Orlando’s next possession, he delivered an over-the-top lob to Aaron Gordon, who finished with a layup. A sore right hamstring didn’t slow Terrence Ross down the stretch. He knocked down back-to-back pull-up mid-range jumpers to extend the Magic’s lead to double digits with just over three minutes remaining.
The Magic have dominated the fourth quarter in each of their first four games. In the season opener, they outscored the Heat by 10 in the final frame. In the first meeting in the nation’s capital, Orlando outscored Washington by nine in the fourth. In the rematch, they outscored the Wizards by 24 in the fourth to overcome a 17-point deficit, the third largest fourth-quarter Magic comeback win since the 1996-97 season, per Sportradar. On Tuesday, the Magic outscored the Thunder by nine in those last 12 minutes. Entering Tuesday’s NBA action, Orlando ranked No. 1 in the fourth quarter in scoring, field goal percentage and free throw attempts.
One of the things the Magic have done exceptionally well early in the season is prevent opponents from scoring much in transition. The Thunder only had four fast break points on Tuesday. Through four games, opponents are averaging just 8.3 fast break points against Orlando. Last season, the Magic ranked fourth in this category and two years ago they were ninth.
Quote of the Night
“It’s very humbling for me. All the great players that have played for the Magic, for me to be the all-time leader in field goals made, especially when you know all the great scorers that have played here, it’s a huge honor and a big motivation for me to keep working. Very, very proud moment for me and I’m very happy to be able to do it and also I’m happy that I was able to achieve that in a win.” - Vucevic
The Magic will look to stay perfect when the 3-1 Philadelphia 76ers come to Amway Center on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The Sixers rallied back from a 14-point deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. Joel Embiid scored 29 points, Tobias Harris had 26 and Seth Curry finished with 17. Last season, Orlando defeated Philly in both of their meetings at Amway Center, while the 76ers pulled out a win over the Magic in their one matchup at the Disney bubble.