7:00 PM ET, October 9, 2009
Amway Arena, Orlando, FL
EDS: Magic 113, Rockets 104; Optional.
AP Photo DOA105
Gortat, a free agent last summer, had 14 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots to help the Magic beat the Houston Rockets 113-104 on Friday night.
Gortat played 36 minutes while All-Star center Dwight Howard rested. The third-year pro from Poland had 11 points, three rebounds and five blocks in the fourth quarter when Orlando outscored Houston 37-26.
"I thought Marcin was terrific, especially in that fourth quarter," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "When his mindset is to play with great energy, defend hard and rebound, he's a very good player and he did that for us in the fourth quarter."
Gortat signed as a restricted free agent with Dallas, but the Magic matched the offer and brought him back to play behind Howard.
"It's tough to battle Dwight for minutes, but I feel like I'm one of the best centers in this league and I have to play more games like this to prove it," Gortat said.
Chase Budinger led Houston with 17 points. Aaron Brooks, Kyle Lowry and rookie Jermaine Taylor had 14 each. The Rockets rallied from 17 points down in the first quarter to take a 78-76 lead into the final period, but couldn't sustain it.
"I thought after the first quarter, we competed hard and got back in the game, but we can't let the other team have more energy and play harder than us," Houston coach Rick Adelman said.
The Magic went on a 14-4 run in the first 4 minutes of the fourth quarter to take control of a game they nearly let slip away in the third quarter. Gortat dunked a pass from J.J. Redick to give Orlando a 90-82 lead with 8 minutes to go and the Magic were able to remain in control the rest of the game.
Houston scored 35 points in the third period, its most productive quarter in the exhibition season, to take its only lead of the game. Trevor Ariza, who hit only one of six shots in the first half, scored 10 points in the period, including two 3-pointers. Brooks hit consecutive 3s to draw the Rockets even at 72-72 and Houston held a 78-76 lead by the end of the period.
The Magic missed their first six shots of the game, but still managed to build as much as a 17-point lead in the first quarter with Carter and Ryan Anderson supplying most of the offense. Carter had 11 19 points in the period, while Anderson hit two 3-pointers and scored eight of his 12 points. Carter's dunk put the Magic up 29-12 with 1:40 left in the period.
The offense came to a grinding halt in the second quarter when the Magic turned the game over to the reserves and went 4 of 14 from the field. They scored more points from the free throw line (12) than from the field in the quarter.
The Rockets, meanwhile, struggled to get on track offensively. With so many new faces in the lineup, their offense was almost exclusively one-on-one efforts. Houston didn't have an assist in the first quarter and had only three at halftime while shooting 14 of 39 (35.9 percent) from the field.
ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 9: J.J. Redick #7 of the Orlando Magic shoots against the Houston Rockets during a...(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
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