Rockets Rise Above Orlando Magic
Orlando has now lost 9 of their last 11 contests after falling to Dwight Howard and the Rockets in Houston 98-88. It really shouldn’t have been that close as Orlando only mustered 34.4 FG% even with the slight fourth quarter comeback. The Magic need Nikola Vucevic back bad. It’s now the 3rd straight game the Montenegrin has missed after spraining his ankle on a cameraman. Orlando was led by Arron Afflalo who finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds, just shy of his first Magic double-double. Glen Davis got abused on defense, but had 18 points and 6 rebounds.
- It didn’t seem like it, but this was the 3rd matchup against Dwight Howard in a regular season contest for the Magic. Only 2 current Magic men on the active roster actually played with Dwight (Glen and Jameer), along with the fact D12 left L.A. for Houston, sort of lowered the hype. Today marked Dwight Howard’s 28th birthday. Dwight tallied an easy double-double before halftime. Dwight finished with 20 points, 22 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals.
- Also celebrating a birthday today? Andrew Nicholson. The 2nd year player from Mississauga, Canada is now 24 years old. ‘Drew notched 11 points and 4 boards at the starting PF spot.
- Jameer Nelson started at point guard, it was his 600th career game with the team. That ranks him 3rd on the all-time Magic list behind Nick Anderson and Dwight. Nelson had a roller coaster evening but he poured in 15 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
- Orlando began the evening on a 9-2 run with Big Baby doing wonders against Dwight and Nicholson spreading the court and providing solid help defense. That didn’t last as the Rockets drained 3s. Boatloads of triples, that fueled Houston’s 17-0 run. Dear Jacque, stop having your guys collapsing into the paint and begging a great 3-point shooting team to launch triples like there’s no tomorrow. Magic trailed 28-18 after one period of play as Houston was 7-of-11 from deep. Without Vucevic, Dwight out-rebounded Orlando 9-7 in that quarter. Houston on the evening bullied Orlando on the boards 60-43.
- Ronnie Price’s back-to-back steals that led to 5 points out of Orlando’s 7-0 run was just the spark Jacque’s squad needed early in the 2nd period.
- Magic at halftime were 13-of-47 from the field (27.7 FG%!!!) and only trailed 52-38 at the break. Coming in, in its entire franchise history, Orlando has only played 9 regular season games where they finished shooting below thirty percent.
- I have no evidence, but I’m pretty sure Jacque Vaughn wanted to fight Haywoode Workman on several occasions following borderline absurd calls.
- Glen Davis got tagged with a flagrant one foul for a decent whack on James Harden’s head in the final minute of the 3rd period. That’s about the only notable thing that occurred as Orlando was down 83-61 entering the final period of regulation.
- Orlando got within 10 points midway in the fourth period thanks to some great hustle from Harkless and Maxiell as well as some jumpers finally dropping. Missed chances at the rim ended up being extra costly in hindsight. The team looked better with Glen and Victor on the bench.
- Jameer appeared to hurt his left knee at the 5:16 mark of the 4th quarter while, you guessed it, stepping on Dwight’s big foot. Nelson stayed in the game, but I’ll be curious about his next game status.
- Jacque may want to think about finding O’Quinn and Lamb minutes. Especially KOQ who is his best non-point guard passer aside from Vucevic.
- You saw Dwight’s massive line. However, James Harden’s 27 points and 10 assists as well as Terrence Jones’ 16 points and 13 rebounds hurt Orlando more.
- Orlando native Chandler Parsons had an efficient 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
- The Magic are now 6-14, have lost all four games of this road trip, and are 0-4 in December. This roster was 12-13 last season.
- Orlando immediately flies to Memphis and will take on the Grizzlies Monday. It’ll be the pinstripe patrol’s 5th game of this brutally grueling six-game road trip.
Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.