With Aaron Gordon carrying them early before several others stepped up late, the Orlando Magic rallied past the visiting Houston Rockets in the fourth quarter and secured a 116-109 victory on Sunday, capping wins on consecutive nights against title contenders. Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier, and D.J. Augustin sank 3-pointers on successive possessions to key a 16-2 run that began with 4:19 left. Ross delivered Orlando its first lead of the fourth quarter at the 3:12 mark before Fournier helped the Magic reclaim the advantage with a trey 35 seconds later.
Augustin hit a 28-footer at the 1:49 mark, and Nikola Vucevic added a bucket at 1:21 to give Orlando its biggest lead at 114-107. Gordon and Vucevic scored 22 points each, while Fournier added 19. Ross tallied 17 points off the bench as Orlando claimed a fourth consecutive home win, rallying from a 12-point deficit on back-to-back nights. The Magic did the same in beating Boston on Saturday.
Rockets guard James Harden scored 38 points -- along with dishing out 12 assists, grabbing nine rebounds and swiping four steals -- to match Kobe Bryant with his 16th consecutive 30-point game, the most in the NBA since 1972-73. However, Harden struggled mightily with his perimeter shooting, missing 16 of 17 3-point attempts. He shot 11 of 32 overall. Austin Rivers tallied 25 points, his high since joining Houston on Christmas Eve. He shot 10 of 14 overall and 4 for 7 on 3s, the same as Danuel House Jr. The remaining Rockets were 2 of 28 from deep. The Rockets used a 10-0 run to take a first-quarter lead, doing so despite the woeful shooting.
Houston closed the opening period 1 for 9 on 3s and needed Rivers and House to carry them from behind the arc prior to the intermission, when the Rockets led 59-52. Harden was 1 of 9 on 3s by halftime, while House and Rivers were a combined 5 of 8, that tandem combining for 24 first-half points. Orlando stayed close by finding his collective rhythm, going 5 of 8 on 3s in the second quarter after missing all five attempts from deep in the first period. Gordon was the linchpin, posting eight points, four rebounds, and three assists before the break. Down the stretch of the fourth, the Magic found plenty of options beyond Gordon to complete the rally and triumph.
(With inputs from agencies.)