Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic 105, Miami Heat 85

The Orlando Magic forced Jimmy Butler into six turnovers and dictated the tempo defensively for a big win. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic forced Jimmy Butler into six turnovers and dictated the tempo defensively for a big win. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic buckled down defensively and dictated the tempo in every way to blow out the Miami Heat in a big home win.

110. 105. 38. Final. 85

The Orlando Magic could have felt bad knowing Jonathan Isaac was out for the foreseeable future. No matter how upbeat he or the rest of the Magic’s front office seemed to be, one of the team’s best players and most important players was on the sideline — actually not on the sideline, but in the locker room — for at least the next quarter of the season.

Aaron Gordon’s return was welcomed just for depth. But the team seemed like it had to find itself again. Everyone would have to pull more weight.

Facing a big Miami Heat team, coach Steve Clifford opted to start Khem Birch at power forward. To signal how much the team is in a state of flux, Steve Clifford said Khem Birch had not practiced at power forward until the team’s shootaround that morning. Orlando is still piecing things together.

For one night, the puzzle pieces fit perfectly.

Birch fit in as a power forward, despite some moments where he was caught behind the 3-point line with nothing to do or cutting into the wrong space. But he also screened hard and fought on the glass. He looked more at home.

And that benefited everyone. Terrence Ross hit five 3-pointers in the first half. Aaron Gordon jammed all over Tyler Herro early in the second quarter to put some emphasis on the game. And Orlando’s defense scrambled and harassed Miami into a 6-point fourth quarter.

Orlando flummoxed Miami at almost every single beat. Only a third-quarter spat of 3-pointers and free throws brought the Heat back into the game, cutting an 18-point deficit to four points. But the Magic answered and put the screws on them with six turnovers and six points in the fourth quarter.

Orlando picked up a confidence-building 105-85 win at the Amway Center on Friday. The Magic asserted their will and even with two of their better players underperforming in some way, they kept breaking down the Heat’s defense.

Orlando played with more energy and intensity as Miami slept-walk through the game. It will take energetic performances like this to achieve the team’s goals.

The Magic showed once again when they play defense, they can beat almost anybody.

The Orlando Magic were certainly happy to have Aaron Gordon back in the lineup. It was a godsend just for depth. And Gordon still had some lingering effects from the ankle soreness that kept him out. He confirmed after the game that it is still a process to get himself warmed up and ready to play. But with one dunk Gordon seemed to confirm that he was back and able to contribute.<p>Gordon was certainly a bit handcuffed in this game. He was not at his very best in this one. But that also allowed him to play within himself. Except for a few hurried jumpers in the lane or as fadeaways, Gordon largely worked to get others going and involved. He scored 16 point son 8-for-16 shooting, making only one of six 3-pointers. That three was a big one that seemingly clinched the game.</p><p>Gordon’s defense was on point most of the night. Like his shooting, it was maybe a step slow as he got his rhythm back. He fouled a bit too much as he tried to corral and contain <a rel=. F. Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON. B+

A. The Orlando Magic really began to break the game open when <a href=. G/F. Orlando Magic. TERRENCE ROSS

MARKELLE FULTZ. B. <a href=. PG. Orlando Magic

Similar to Markelle Fultz, <a href=. C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC. B+

3rd East. MIAMI HEAT. C-. The Miami Heat are the second-best 3-point shooting team in the league. They got plenty of open looks early that would not go down and that set them up to go 7 for 37 (18.9 percent) for the game. That was a big part of this game. But the Orlando Magic made them work for every shot. Their defense was on point scrambling and contesting shots.<p>The Heat really struggled to get anything moving and they were really sloppy with their decisionmaking. Miami turned it over 18 times with Jimmy Butler committing six. The Magic’s disciplined defense made things difficult. But Miami was also really sloppy. The Heat were making a lot of poor decisions.</p><p>Their defense was not much better. They went into their zone but the magic broke it down easily. And even their man-to-man defense was unable to get much traction outside of the third quarter. Orlando’s defense dictated this game. The Heat know they have to be better.</p>. 25-10

Next. Orlando Magic need Aaron Gordon now more than ever. dark

The Orlando Magic improved to 16-19. They hold a three-game lead over the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls for eighth in the East and are one game behind the Brooklyn Nets for seventh. The Orlando Magic are back in action Saturday at the Amway Center against the Utah Jazz.