Vucevic scores 21 to help Magic hold off Rockets 104-101
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Evan Fournier hit a short bank shot with 14.2 seconds left and Tobias Harris made two free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining to help the Orlando Magic hold off the Houston Rockets 104-101 on Wednesday night.
Nik Vucevic’s 21 points led six players in double figures for the Magic, who have won five of six.
Marcus Thornton’s 3-pointer missed at the final horn, ending Houston’s three-game winning streak.
James Harden scored 10 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Rockets, who rallied from a 14-point deficit to lead by one point on two occasions late in the game.
Former Magic center Dwight Howard finished with 12 points and seven rebounds for Houston.
Harris had 19 points and six rebounds for Orlando, which shot 52.4 percent but turned the ball over six times in the final quarter.
The Rockets were down by eight when Harden and Terrence Jones sparked a 19-3 run late in the first quarter shortly after Howard went to the bench with two fouls.
Aaron Gordon came off the Orlando bench with 14 points in the second quarter, scoring six of the Magic’s eight baskets as they regained a 59-53 lead following a first half in which the Rockets shot 52 percent.
Houston missed its first five shots of the second half and fell behind 65-53, but Trevor Ariza hit two straight jumpers and then Harden scored four consecutive baskets to keep the Rockets in it.
Harris and Payton combined for 12 points to help the Magic finish the quarter on an 18-9 spurt to lead 87-74. Harden hit two straight shots and fed Howard for a dunk during a 13-0 Houston run, and neither team led by more than three points thereafter.
Rockets: Ty Lawson returned from a two-game suspension, playing almost 27 minutes and and scoring 11 points. ... Harden, who shoots an NBA-leading 11.1 free throws per game, shot only six, four in the first quarter. ... All six of Howard’s field goals came on dunks.
Magic: Orlando is 27-27 against Houston, not including the Rockets’ sweep in the 1995 NBA Finals. ... Victor Oladipo shot 0 for 9 with seven rebounds and six assists.