Jameer Nelson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Orlando Magic a tough, hard fought victory over the Denver Nuggets Friday night. In a back-and-forth game that was filled with turnovers and questionable calls, the Magic came away with an 85-82 victory.
Dwight Howard led the way with 16 points and 18 rebounds while Wilson Chandler led the Nuggets with 20 points.
The game was back-and-forth from the start. The Nuggets wound up taking a 21-18 lead at the conclusion of the first quarter. In the second quarter, Orlando’s only really productive quarter, they scored 29 points, including a 19-8 run to end the half, giving them a 47-42 halftime advantage, capped by Jameer Nelson’s buzzer-beating layup.
The third quarter was more like the first, featuring bad decisions, silly turnovers and very good defense. The Magic took a four-point lead into the final period and looked poised to take the game over, pushing the lead to seven with just 7:11 to go. The Nuggets fought back, eventually tying the game at 82 on two Danilo Gallinari free throws with 5.2 seconds to go. The Magic had chances to close the game out but missed three consecutive free throws before Gallinari tied the game.
Fortunately for the Magic, all those free throws did was set up Nelson’s game-winner.
After the jump, you can read more thoughts, observations and quotes from the game.
Orlando’s defense was fantastic. They held the Nuggets to just 82 points on 35.9% shooting. That is the lowest amount of points scored by the Nuggets since the trade.
Magic Head Coach Van Gundy, who is still unhappy with Orlando’s turnover problem, was clearly pleased with the defensive performance.
And rightfully so.
“I thought it was a terrific defensive effort,” Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “They were averaging 109 a game, shooting 49.5 from the floor. We hold them to 82 and 35.9 from the floor. They were averaging 18 fast break points, they get eight. They were averaging 49 points in the paint, they get 36.”
The Magic still turned the ball over 18 times, resulting in 15 Nuggets points. Van Gundy continues to stress the importance of protecting the ball and the Magic continue to turn it over.
Dwight Howard had a rough night. He only got up nine shots (he made five and went 6-of-13 from the free throw line, finishing with just 16 points. However, he still did work on the other end of the work, helping to hold the Nuggets 13 points below their average in points in the paint since they dealt Carmelo Anthony. Howard had five blocks and pulled down 18 rebounds.
Hedo Turkoglu continued to be more aggressive and really filled up the stat sheet. He nearly had a triple double – 15 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and one block. Turkoglu’s increased aggressiveness didn’t help his shooting percentage (he was 5-of-12 from the field Friday night but it certainly helps Orlando’s offense to be more productive.
Although no one shot particularly well, all five Magic starters scored in double figures.
Although he shot just 5-of-12 from the floor, Jameer Nelson was still the hero of the night because of his game-winning 3-pointer.
The play was a designed isolation for Nelson and whether he was going to drive or pull was his choice.
“The play was for Jameer to get or create the last shot,” Van Gundy explained.
Nelson finished with 13 points.
Next Up: The Magic will be in Cleveland to face the Cavaliers Monday night.
Final Thought: Van Gundy said this might be Orlando’s best win of the season. Since he has been stressing defense, it’s hard to disagree.
(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: Aaron Afflalo, Brandon Bass, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Duhon, Denver Nuggets, Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, George Karl, Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Kenyon Martin, Nene, Orlando Magic, Quentin Richardson, Raymond Felton, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Ty Lawson