Nikola Vucevic knew he faced a struggle against Phoenix Suns newcomer Deandre Ayton from the article on Friday night. In addition, he knew he would get an edge on offense.
Vucevic deployed his veteran encounter contrary to this year’s top overall draft selection and finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds as the Orlando Magic defeated the Suns 99-85.
“I was only hoping to remain competitive. For large guys, it requires just a little bit, particularly on the defensive end, to sort of get a sense for this. The game is really quick,” Vucevic explained. “He is likely to become a real good player.”
Terrence Ross added 21 points off the bench, and Aaron Gordon ended with 18 points, despite a sore back. D.J. Augustin scored 16 points.
“I was only acting slow,” Gordon explained. “Playing old guy match, except for playing over the rim. I dunked it”
Ayton scored 19 points and Jamal Crawford had 18 as the Suns lost their fourth straight and for the seventh time in eight matches.
Ross created the first three baskets of the fourth quarter to provide the Magic an 81-71 lead, and Orlando constructed the lead from that point. Vucevic hit a hook shot with just two minutes to play that pushed the lead to 98-83.
The Suns were with their top two scorers, celebrity guard Devin Booker and ahead TJ Warren, both out with injuries. Josh Jackson, who started in place of Warren, fought through a 5-for-21 shooting night and has been hit by a technical foul late in the third quarter.
“I really do definitely feel bound to pick up the slack a bit. Most of us do,” Jackson stated. “We all know if Devin or TJ does not play, both leading scorers, we’ve got a whole lot to compensate for this.”
The Magic went forward by 10 early in the third quarter on a layup from Vucevic, along with also his 3-pointer with 3:40 left gave the Magic a 73-61 lead.
The Suns closed in 75-71 when Crawford hit a jumper just before the third-quarter buzzer.
Ross hit 3-pointers gave the Magic a 27-25 lead at the second quarter following Orlando trailed by four at the conclusion of their first. Ross scored 11 points in the quarter and Orlando led by as many as six, its biggest lead of the first half.
“He chooses the shots he can create,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said of Ross.
Crawford’s 3 with 29.7 seconds left in the half had the Suns monitoring 51-48 in the intermission. Crawford made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the second quarter.
Phoenix maintained an eight-point lead from the first quarter, its biggest of the game, prior to the Magic rallied.
“Sometimes I wonder’How can we lose?’ Ayton explained. “It seems like everyone is competing. It is sort of confusing because I understand everyone was playing hard now, but we lose.”
Magic: Orlando won its fourth straight against Phoenix. … Vucevic has scored 20 or more points in four consecutive games.
Suns: Crawford tied Charles Oakley for 25th in NBA history in career games played with entered Friday’s match. Crawford has emerged in 1,282 games. … G Troy Daniels saw game action for only the first time this year, and next time . He tied a season high with eight points. … The Suns wore their purple”Los Suns” City Edition jerseys for the first time this year.
The dip of the night came courtesy of Suns backup centre Richaun Holmes, that captured Jackson’s lob and slammed over Jerian Grant of the Magic for a 21-15 lead at the 1:55 mark of the first quarter.
Phoenix threw five dunks in the match.
Ayton, the best overall selection in this year’s NBA Draft, got the better of a lottery-pick matchup with fellow newcomer Mo Bamba of Orlando. Bamba was the sixth overall choice and second centre taken after Ayton, and ended with two things. Bamba had a effective two-handed slam in the fourth quarter because of his lone basket.