The Orlando Magic again struggled with the Sacramento Kings, especially in the first half, but rallied from a six-point fourth quarter deficit and hung on for a 106-102 win. DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with a career-high 29 points while Jameer Nelson tied a season-high with 26 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter.
Once again the Magic came out with a poor defensive effort. They saw the Kings shoot 10-of-16 from the field, 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and 9-of-14 from the free throw line en route to a 33-point first quarter. The Magic didn’t shoot quite as well (10-of-21, 1-of-3, 8-of-13) but still had a very good scoring period themselves, putting up 29 points.
Both teams continued to struggle on offense in the second quarter but the Magic were able to pick up a point because of Jason Richardson’ big three-pointer with .07 seconds to go in the first half. Overall in the first half, the Kings shot an effective field goal percentage of 62.5% and hit 13 free throws. Big man DeMarcus Cousins led all scorers with 19 first half points.
The Magic clamped down in the third quarter, holding the Kings to just 22% shooting from the field but because they continued to foul and struggled to score themselves, they didn’t lose any ground, leaving them down 79-73 late in the period. Gilbert Arenas hit a deep buzzer-beating three to cut the lead to three heading into the fourth quarter.
Ryan Anderson’s three immediately tied the game at the start of the fourth quarter but he Kings regained the lead and held onto it until Jason Richardson hit a three-pointer with 2:44 to go that gave the Magic a 98-97 lead and capped a 9-2 Magic run. Jameer Nelson took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of 15 Magic points at one point and Hedo Turkoglu hit a three-pointer that put the Magic up 105-100 with just 40.5 seconds to play. After two free throws from Cousins, Jason Richardson missed two free throws on the other end, leaving the door open for the Kings. Luther Head couldn’t hit a three and the Magic held on for the victory.
After the jump, you can read more thoughts and observations from the game.
The defense was absent in the first half again as you can tell from the numbers above. In the second half, things went much better for the Magic as they held the Kings to just 43 second half points.
After the game, Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy was clearly frustrated with his team’s play. He was upset with their defense and their poor performance on the glass (Sacramento outrebounded Orlando 51-36).
Foul trouble plagued Dwight Howard throughout the night but Stan Van Gundy chose to roll the dice and it paid off. Although Howard did foul out with 1:00 minute to go, he only picked up one foul between the 10:58 mark in the third quarter and that point. He clearly was frustrated with some iffy calls (and non-calls) but still managed to score 16 points, grab 15 rebounds and block three shots.
Jameer Nelson took over in the fourth quarter again. He finished the game 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting. He scored 12 of those points in the fourth quarter while constantly running the high pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard. Nelson also had four assists and three steals.
Gilbert Arenas hit a couple of big shots, including a third quarter buzzer beater from well beyond the arc. Arenas had 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, dished out three assists and maybe most importantly, he did not turn the ball over. As you’ll recall, Arenas had six turnovers in Monday’s loss to Portland. He did a little better of a job of getting all the way over to the hoop and finishing as well.
Overall, it was an excellent rebound game for both Magic point guards.
Ryan Anderson had seven points and three rebounds in his return to his hometown.
DeMarcus Cousins had a huge game for the Kings. Of course, he made a lot of rookie mistakes and turned the ball over seven times but he wound up with 29 points on 16 shots. He stayed out of early foul trouble(but eventually wound up picking up five fouls) and forced the Magic to double team him at times before they eventually abandoned that philosophy and just put Howard on him. He forced Howard into a couple of fouls late in the game, which resulted in Howard’s exit from the game.
Next Up: The Magic will play the Golden State Warriors Friday night.
Final Thought: It wasn’t pretty but the Magic start their road trip 1-0.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).
Topics: Beno Udrih, Brandon Bass, Carl Landry, Chris Duhon, David Anderson, Demarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard, Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Jason Thompson, Jermaine Taylor, Marcus Thornton, New Orleans Hornets, Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, Tyreke Evans