Veterans Spark Magic Past Philly
Arron Afflalo’s ‘hero ball’ worked out in Orlando’s favor on Sunday night. Afflalo drilled a crowded corner 3-pointer, one of 12 the team made, to put the Magic up seven with 59.8 seconds remaining in the contest. It was the early dagger necessary for Orlando to march to its second victory of the month with a final score was 99-91.
Jameer Nelson tallied a spectacular 24 points and 10 assists. Beno Udrih scored in double figures for the fourth time out of his nine Magic appearances contributing 10 points and six assists. Even Al Harrington pitched in a few 3-pointers off the pine in his eight-point outing.
Coach Vaughn on Jameer: “I thought overall his energy and his approach was great from the beginning of the game…I was interested to see matchup wise how we were going to cover their guys and how they were going to cover us. I thought he was really good for us tonight.”
Jameer was injured the previous 2 matchups in Philadelphia, so you could see early on that Nelson was eager to play the franchise that represents his hometown. ‘Mighty Mite’ tallied an 8-point, 7-assist first quarter. Orlando trailed 28-30 after the initial twelve minutes because of Philadelphia’s 57.1FG% shooting.
Coach Vaughn on his team’s defense: “We did not watch clips at halftime. We kind of just talked about our approach needed to be just a little bit better…I think it was kind of a game of gears and finally we ramped it up a little bit.”
Orlando’s defense was MUCH better in the remaining quarters, not allowing more than 21 points in any period. Orlando finished the first half shooting 54.3 FG% and entered the break with a 56-51 cushion. Vucevic was one of 4 Magic starters in the locker room having scored in double figures with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
Coach Vaughn on playing better at home: “I have made that a point to our guys and said it again at our shootaround today. The fans have been unbelievable…It was good to give them a win. They deserve it.”
Damien Wilkins tallied 14 points off the bench in the February 26th matchup. Sunday was Wilkins’ first start of the season and he wouldn’t disappoint. Wilkins’ 7-point third period kept Philly close, but Orlando still led 73-72 heading into the fourth quarter. Thaddeus Young had already obtained a shockingly quiet 20-10 performance.
Coach Vaughn on his team rallying in the 4th: “I think that’s the best coaching right there. We didn’t make shots and some things didn’t go our way, but defensively we hold them to 40 points in the second half.”
Talk about an unexpected seesaw battle in the fourth, which saw 11 lead changes and nine ties. Vucevic’s final stat line of 14 points and 17 rebounds is a painful reminder once more to Philadelphia fans of what they’re missing out on.
The win at Amway Center snapped a 7-game losing skid. It’s the ninth Magic win when they’ve trailed by 10+ points.
Orlando now welcomes the Lakers to town and the return of Dwight Howard. The 18-46 Magic are just about officially out of the playoff hunt, but that atmosphere Tuesday night will be electric on countless levels. Can you imagine if Hack-A-Howard gets utilized again and successfully too?
The worry now is on Jameer’s health. There is no word yet on Nelson’s left shoulder, but it was visually evident that he finished the Sixers game in a lot of pain. Orlando will have the chance to notch consecutive victories for the first time since December 19th.
Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.