That's Mr. Manimal to you. - Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
The Magic defeated the Nuggets back in November and before the game George Karl called them the best nine-loss steak team he has seen in years. Jacque Vaugh and his team made it hard on Denver tonight as a Herculean fourth quarter effort was needed to get the 108-105 win.
It's hard to put an effort on how the Nuggets energy changed from the third quarter, where the Nuggets scored just 17 points, to the fourth quarter, where the Nuggets exploded for 38 points. You can look at the fouls called against the Nuggets (just seven) and how Denver took care of the ball (just 10 turnovers), but this one was all about urgency.
"The first half we didn't [have too much] effort. We were letting them get easy layups, we were not running back [on defense]," Ty Lawson said. "Second half, definitely the effort carried us to this win."
Orlando came out and they were ready to play. Head coach Jacque Vaughn has a very well prepared team, but also a young one. The Magic took a 30-22 lead into the second quarter and led by two heading into the half 55-53. It wasn't one guy hurting the Nuggets in the first half - it was the entire Orlando team.
Vaughn played 10 guys in the first half and each one scored four points or more; led by Jameer Nelson's 10 points. For the Nuggets it was Corey Brewer keeping the team in the game and providing, once again, big time energy off the bench. Brewer had 15 points in 15 minutes on 7-11 shooting in the first half. He would finish the game with just 16 points and was 0-6 shooting in the second half. C-Brew played a total of 28 minutes - just under 16 in the first half and about 13 minutes in the second half.
The battle between Iguodala and Arron Afflalo was a defensive one early. The two battled each other for just 4 points each in the first half. But it would be Dre$ coming up late and Afflalo misfiring that made a huge difference. With the game tied at 99-99 with 2:14 to play, Afflalo missed a big three at the top of the key for the Magic - it wasn't even close. Iguodala missed an easy finger roll (as he was trying to decide if he should feed Danilo Gallinari in the corner) as he was debating on passing the ball or taking the shot and then missed both free throws with the game still knotted at 99.
Faried's tremendous effort after the missed freebie by Dre$ to secure a rebound and a timeout (after diving on the floor) set up Lawson's big time And-1 layup. Lawson was very aggressive late and didn't hesitate when going to the basket against Nelson. Iguodala secured the win with a layup to extend Denver's lead to 106-102 and he made a nice steal on Nelson to really seal the win.
Views you can use:
-In the two games versus the Nuggets, Afflalo was just 7-27 (4-14 tonight and 1-5 from deep) and to add injury to insult - he fouled out in this one late. AAA paid a visit to his old teammates after the game in the locker room and it was good to see him. I wish him luck the rest of the way. Lawson was also happy to see his old friend and to get a win against him.
"It was fun to see Triple-A back here and to get a win finally against him," Lawson said. "I can have bragging rights."
-The Denver bigs were not big in this one. Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee scored a combined 8 points and grabbed just 6 rebounds. Add to that they didn't do a great job protecting the paint as Orlando got 52 points in the paint.
-Kenneth Faried was amazing. 19 points and 19 rebounds (9 offensive) and he was 5-7 at the foul line with two coming late in the game. The Manimal was all over the place and his board on the Iguodala miss late was the biggest single play of the night.
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