Scrappy Magic Squad Earns Hard-Fought Victory in New Orleans
Coming off of a mauling last night by Memphis, the Magic hit the road to take on the HornetPelicans in New Orleans on Monday night. While the game started ugly, it turned into a fantastic night for Orlando who pulled off a gigantic comeback effort behind an explosive second half.
The Magic led 36-31 with 6:26 left in the second quarter and seemed to be in control of the game before unraveling and allowing New Orleans to finish the first half on a 15-0 run. Orlando trailed by 17 points early in the 3rd quarter before they finally ramped up their defensive energy and offensive execution to make it a game.
The fourth quarter saw the lead going back and forth between the two teams with every Magic run being answered by the Hornets. After a Ryan Anderson three-pointer gave NOLA a nine point lead at 97-88 with 3:30 left in the game, it seemed the comeback would be for naught. Following a Jacque Vaughn timeout, Arron Afflalo would explode for nine points in the remaining 3:30 including the go-ahead bucket at 101-100 that put Orlando ahead for good.
Afflalo finished with 26 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for the night. Tobias Harris put in 15 points, including 12 in the first half and a huge offensive rebound and free throw in the final seconds that sealed the victory.
“I love the winning attitude that [Tobias] brings” – Arron Afflalo
Jameer Nelson returned after missing six straight games and finished with 15 points, seven assists and he provided a steady hand to the offense that obviously lacks without his leadership on the floor.
“It’s not about one guy, everyone played hard, everyone played a part.” -Jameer Nelson
Greivis Vasquez, Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon all scored 17 points for the Hornets. Ryan Anderson finished with just 13 points and a game worse +/- of -26.
Despite New Orleans not being one of the strongest performers in the league, they are much improved since their early season struggles now that they are close to full health. On the wrong side of a back-to-back, and getting blown out on the front end, it would have been easy for this beaten down squad to just go through the motions. It’s a credit to Coach Vaughn and his squad that they came out and fought hard all night.
From Moe Harkless scrapping, to Al Harrington knocking down threes and hustling for his 18 minutes on the floor, to Tobias Harris shutting down Eric Gordon on a switch at the end of the game, together the Magic earned tonight’s win. A true team victory.
“It’s great to see the guys, ya know, feel it, and get rewarded for their effort. Consistent play, not getting too high, not getting too low. We get down 17 but still just plug away each possession. And that was great to see from multiple people.” – Jacque Vaughn after the victory
The Magic are off on Tuesday before heading down to Miami to face off against LeBron and friends on Wednesday night.