Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic 105, Miami Heat 90

Evan Fournier struggled to shoot last year and a return to the mean would boost the Orlando Magic's offense. (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Evan Fournier struggled to shoot last year and a return to the mean would boost the Orlando Magic's offense. (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic used a strong defensive second half to quiet the Miami Heat and return to .500 at the end of this long road stretch.

38. 90. 110. Final. 105

The Orlando Magic’s energy never truly wavered. They were as engaged and active defensively in the second quarter when they fell behind by six points and watched Bam Adebayo throw back every shot at the rim as they were in the fourth quarter when they were flying around and scrambling.

The difference in trailing and winning was truly their offensive energy and output. But it was their defense that paced them the entire way.

It was Jonathan Isaac flying to the ball and deflecting passes to set up the offense. Or Nikola Vucevic walling off the paint and contesting shots with his verticality. Or Aaron Gordon flying in for rebounds to keep the Miami Heat from getting the second-chance opportunies that helped them build the lead.

The Magic shot 30 percent from the floor for much of the first half. They struggled with turnovers — committing nine in the second quarter alone — and those second-chance opportunities. But they cleaned it all up.

Orlando erased the deficit and raced ahead, giving up just 12 points in the third quarter. The Magic dominated defensively and dictated the game. Their ball movement increased and Orlando eased past Miami 105-90 at American Airlines Arena on Tuesday to get back to .500 at 12-12.

In the end, Miami shot just 41.8 percent from the floor and took a total of five free throws. After scoring 30-plus points in the paint in the first half, they ended with 52. Not a great number by any means, but the Magic clearly tightened things up in the second half.

From there, they were able to get their transition game going and get the ball and players moving around the paint once again. Aaron Gordon especially was vital to the Magic restoring their energy and movement on offense. And it was D.J. Augustin, Nikola Vucevic and Jonathan Isaac providing the energy to close things out.

Orlando still had its bench issues throughout the game. It was the second unit that saw Miami take control in the second quarter and cut into the 14-point third-quarter lead at the beginning of the fourth. But the Magic withstood it all and calmly locked in defensively to pull away and win the game.

All the more important considering the Heat entered the game in ninth in the East and now the Magic hold at least a tie in the season series.

F. Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON. A-. Aaron Gordon was struggling to get through the first half. But the Orlando Magic needed some energy offensively. They needed someone to force some action more efficiently and effectively and get the team moving and active. Orlando needed someone to help finish defensive possessions.<p>That is what Gordon did throughout the second half. And especially in the third quarter. He scored 16 points in the quarter, attacking aggressively off the dribble and getting out in transition. More importantly, he was chasing down rebounds and taking ownership of the glass to boost the Magic’s defense and get the team in transition.</p><p>That energy was vital and the defensive energy sustained itself throughout the half. He was one of the team’s top defenders all night. Gordon finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.</p>

EVAN FOURNIER. B. <a href=. SG. Orlando Magic

A. Jonathan Isaac is growing up quickly. Now that he has had a few games under his belt, his confidence on offense is returning and he is putting together some impressive offensive highlights. Or at least, glimpses of what he can do offensively.<p>Defense is still where Isaac makes his pay. And it continues to be extremely impressive. He was deflecting passes and tipping the ball away on the perimeter. He switched seamlessly between positions on the perimeter and locked down shooters. He changed shots at the basket. That is all expected from Isaac at this point.</p><p>But his offense is coming along quickly. His jumper is looking more comfortable and in rhythm. And he is making some really nice offensive plays. Not to mention his usual flying around for loose balls. Isaac finished with 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting and six rebounds in another solid bench outing.</p>. F. Orlando Magic. JONATHAN ISAAC

C-. <a href=. C. Orlando Magic. MOHAMED BAMBA

B-. The Miami Heat are still trying to rediscover some of the grit and scrap that has made up the #HeatCulture for the last few years. That has been missing as injuries have decimated the team some. This is a group that is still finding its way and trying to outperform its talent level in some ways.<p>Miami largely did that Tuesday night. The Heat kept the ball moving and attacked the paint effectively throughout the first half. Their trapping defense gave the Magic problems and they forced the Magic to play stagnant offense.</p><p>But Orlando stepped up in the end and Miami could not find an answer. The effort was not the problem for the Heat. Their execution was not really the problem either. The Magic did a good job defensively limiting their options and forcing them into shots they do not want.</p>. 9-14. 10th East. MIAMI HEAT

Next. Orlando Magic first quarter MVP: Nikola Vucevic. dark

The Orlando Magic return home Wednesday to take on the Denver Nuggets.