Orlando Magic Grades: Denver Nuggets 124, Orlando Magic 118

Denver guard Jamal Murray, left, and Orlandoi guard Evan Fournier, right, battle for the ball during the Denver Nuggets at Orlando Magic NBA game at the Amway Center on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 in Orlando. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Denver guard Jamal Murray, left, and Orlandoi guard Evan Fournier, right, battle for the ball during the Denver Nuggets at Orlando Magic NBA game at the Amway Center on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 in Orlando. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic played a stellar offensive game, but could not overcome frustrations with the officiating and poor pick-and-roll defense in overtime.

38. Final. 124. 73. 118

The Orlando Magic were scrambling trying to erase another late deficit. The team had dug itself a seven-point hole against the streaking Denver Nuggets and were fighting once again to get back in the game.

In regulation, Orlando had erased a five-point deficit with a little less than two minutes to play when Terrence Ross somehow got free for a wide-open 3-pointer with six seconds to play. He paused for a moment and said he had the time to take his time for the jumper that sent it to overtime.

But the team was scrambling and frustrated as their offense suddenly went cold. The team was pressing trying to keep up in overtime and frustration was beginning to boil over.

Evan Fournier was ejected after picking up his sixth foul trying to front Nikola Jokic. A massive free throw disparity — 37 to eight in the Nuggets’ favor — beginning to send the Magic into some hysterics.

But it galvanized them and helped them climb within three late in the game.

Fans saw on the replay what happened next. The refs did not.

Jamal Murray took the inbounds pass and on replay appeared to step out of bounds twice trying to get around a screen with Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic chasing. The whistle stayed silent then and Nikola Vucevic reached in with 24 seconds left. That foul sent Murray to the line as a cascade of boos rained in on the officiating.

Evan Fournier had already expressed his displeasure with the evening’s officiating on his way out of the game. The Magic were only getting angrier as things went on. Now trailing by five, the Magic just did not have the time of the composure to reel the Nuggets back in one time.

The poor officiating down the stretch and the Magic’s poor reaction to it eventually did everyone in. The Magic fell to the Nuggets 124-118 in overtime at Amway Center, leaving the game a bit testy and frustrated, knowing they let one slip away yet again.

Orlando hit 20 3-pointers in the game, taking 49 in the game in total. But the team made just one of nine shots in overtime, often settling for contested jumpers or rushed 3-pointers. The Magic seemed to be in a hurry throughout overtime and their execution was lacking.

Coach Steve Clifford more rightly deflected all questions about the officiating to the team’s poor pick-and-roll defense. But even his frustration was clear.

Orlando gave up 54.9 percent shooting themselves. And while it felt like the Magic’s defense was not given any benefit of the doubt defensively, the Nuggets still drew a lot of fouls and shooting fouls against them.

Still, Orlando should feel like once again it did enough to win the game against an elite Western Conference team. And once again the team left it on the board.

That might be the most frustrating thing of all.

Orlando Magic. EVAN FOURNIER. B+. Evan Fournier was the one expressing the most frustration after the game following his ejection. He felt he was doing all he could to defend a 7-footer on the block and did nothing wrong. It was hard to argue his tactics. And losing his cool with two minutes left of a game in overtime is a very unacceptable thing to do, no matter how frustrating the team and the game might have been.<p>It was a dark spot in what was an otherwise stellar game for Fournier. He broke out of any shooting slump to score 26 points and make 6 of his 10 3-pointers. He found a nice home on the right corner and went there again and again and again. The team found him in a nice groove and he kept making shots.</p><p>His defense still left something to be desired. The Magic tried to hide him some on <a rel=. G/F

Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON. B+. Outside of Evan Fournier, no one seemed more visibly frustrated after the game like <a href=. F

B+. Nikola Vucevic went toe to toe with Nikola Jokic all game. The two big men are easy to compare because of their versatile skill sets and ability to stretch the floor. And Vucevic and Jokic seemed pretty close — Jokic is obviously the better player overall. But it sure did not feel like it for much of the night.<p>Vucevic finished with 24 points, making 11 of his 19 shots and grabbing 15 rebounds. He added four assists for good measure. He kept the ball moving and floated to open space. When he got the ball on the block, he took Jokic to task. That goes on both ends. Jokic only scored 12 points on 5-for-13 shooting. His 13 assists were the only blemish.</p><p>Vucevic largely stood tall defensively. He made one critical error biting on a Jokic pump fake in the fourth quarter, allowing Jokic to drive for a dunk. But he locked down most of the night in what was a good effort.</p>. C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC

MOHAMED BAMBA. B+. After a string of frustrating games, <a href=. C. Orlando Magic

DENVER NUGGETS. B. The Denver Nuggets have established themselves as the best team in the Western Conference and the win Wednesday night represented their seventh straight victory. The Nuggets have played some fantastic basketball and were strong enough offensively to withstand the barrage of 3-pointers the Magic put on them.<p>This felt like a game between two good teams that would come down to execution plain and simple. The Nuggets did that at the end and shot plenty well throughout the game in making 54.9 percent of their shots and 11 of 19 from three. As much controversy as it produced, their 37 free throw attempts came from the pressure they put on the Magic defense.</p><p>But Denver’s success is built on its defense. And this looked like the old Nuggets’ defense. Orlando was on fire from beyond the arc and many of those shots were wide open. The Magic stayed in the game even without taking free throws and came back to force overtime.</p>. 17-7. 1st West

Next. Don't forget Aaron Gordon in Orlando Magic's success. dark

The Orlando Magic return to the Amway Center on Friday to take on the Indiana Pacers.