Carmelo Mauls Magic with MVP Performance
The Orlando Magic dropped another competitive contest Saturday night, 114-106, as Coach Vaughn’s squad is now 12-21 and can’t abolish itself of a now 8-game losing stretch. No words on this planet can embellish the fact that Carmelo Anthony is one of the few legitimate superstars in this league. He’s always been great, but Carmelo is just an entirely different type of evolved animal this season. 40 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds is what Anthony posted in front of another soldout Amway Center crowd. A vast majority were Knicks fans chanting “MVP” when Anthony attempted free throws. Carmelo’s 40 points are the most in a contest by any Knick player in Magic franchise history.
Coach Vaughn on close games: “Do I reference the score? No. Do I reference specifics in the game and how we stayed together throughout the course of the game, how we communicated and adjusted with each other? Those are things I’d mention.”
Sixteen of Carmelo’s points came in the fourth quarter, a final period in which Orlando as a whole only managed seventeen. Jameer Nelson finished 29 points, none of which came in the last 12 minutes. On a brighter note, DeQuan Jones tallied a career-high in points with eight, along with 6 rebounds. Jacque Vaughn decided to play McRoberts at small forward down the stretch to get torched by Melo rather than DeQuan who was forcing Carmelo into tougher shots. Nik Vucevic fought off foul problems to finish with 11 points and 18 rebounds. Arron Afflalo threw pain to the side and gutted his way to 29 points, twenty of which came in the 2nd half.
Jameer went on a personal 8-0 run to start the game, and the Magic had a 14-2 lead out of the gates. They started out 6-of-6 from the field against the Bulls too and that didn’t end well. Orlando utilized 62.5% shooting to lead 36-27 after one quarter.
Afflalo injured his hip on several occasions in the first half, allowing Maurice Harkless onto the parquet court having not played the previous 2 contests. The 19-year-old responded well by immediately swatting a Ronnie Brewer 3-point attempt. Jacque sitting Maurice sent a clear message that more effort and production was demanded out of the St. John’s product. Maurice would only play 7 total minutes as Harkless’ athleticism was missed.
Coach Vaughn on Afflalo’s injury: “I didn’t know if he was going to be able to continue to go…these are times where you show your teammates not only with that you say but what you do and for him to come out after halftime and play the way he did and give the effort that he did, that’s growth for our team…”
With Afflalo and Vucevic both receiving trainer treatments and dealing with foul trouble, McRoberts saw plenty of minutes at center and Hedo got a lot of play at power forward. Vaughn didn’t want to overplay Nicholson, didn’t trust O’Quinn, and didn’t have Ayon’s services because of Gustavo’s right thigh contusion. Orlando’s lead evaporated and morphed into a 59-55 deficit in the locker room. 7 second period Magic turnovers were the main culprit.
Orlando somehow surged back into the lead as Jameer, Nicholson, and Afflalo took up the scoring slack. 89-81 Magic advantage entering the 4th period as Orlando benefited from five 3-pointers between Jameer and Afflalo in that third session.
Coach Vaughn on Carmelo Anthony: “He’s just really good and he made shots and that’s why he’s an all-star.”
Hedo has really been quite the hindrance, and it’s extremely difficult not to notice. Carmelo’s ridiculous shot-making tied the contest at 95-95 midway through the final period. Carmelo and crew would rapidly pull away with victory. Orlando embarks on a 4-game road trip that begins in Portland on Monday.
Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.