Just before time expired, Jameer Nelson sank a 28-foot prayer that was answered, giving the Nuggets their first loss in four games.
Orlando Magic win 85-82
The Nuggets (41-28) fell victim to a prayer, but along the way they committed too many turnovers (16) and bricked too many jump shots (finishing with 39% field goal shooting). Neither team seemed to gain any offensive rhythm and you can argue that both the Magic and the Nuggets either played like crap, or were playing the best defense known to man. I'd say it was a little of both.
Considering the flow of the game, the Nuggets seemed to do a pretty good job on limiting Dwight Howard on the offensive end. He finished with 16 points, but he also had 18 rebounds ... contributing greatly to Orlando's 51 to 47 rebound edge. Where the Nuggets failed was in limiting Hedo Turkoglu, who's stellar line included 15 pts, 9 rebs, and 8 assists. Yet the Nuggets, despite these deficiencies were staying virtually even with the Magic the entire way. A testament to this new look team's grit. Brandon Bass was a pest around the basket, and was another key factor in the Nuggets loss.
Danilo Gallinari played his first game since February 25th, and while he definitely needs to get into game shape, he played tough and with grit. He finished with 17 pts and 6 rebs and drew a clutch foul at the end of the game. While there are those who don't like the "Euro" style of play, our Gallo played tough, determined and focused all night long and was clearly the Nugget who was working the hardest. Gallo will be key to the Nuggets successes or failures going forward. I get the feeling it will be more the former than the latter.
Wilson Chandler, for a stretch, seemed to be the only Nuggets player who could hit a shot. He finished with 20 points and kept the Magic from expanding their lead. Kudo's also to Nene. While his stat line isn't stellar (14 pts and 9 rebs) he did a good job on the defensive end against Howard and kept him from dominating inside.
Now for the bad. J.R. Smith completely disappeared by the end of the game. His shots were bad, and he seemed a bit lethargic (we can speculate why that is). When the Nuggets were in dire need of his offense, he couldn't hit his shot and was, in essence, missing in action. Raymond Felton was having a bad night shooting (2-11), at the end he came up with a key rebound, then landed on Ty Lawson's foot and injured his ankle (from what it looked like) he had to be helped off the court, and the Nuggets were collectively holding their breath. I'm not one to speculate, but the injury did appear to serious. Not good.
In the end, it came down to Jameer Nelson heaving a 28 foot prayer at the buzzer from the top of the key with Ty Lawson defending and he sank the shot. I think you can just leave that as the by-line to this game. Two teams playing even for 47:59 of this game. What can you do? The theme of the night is: Move on.
A prayer for Orlando was answered
Nuggets of Wisdom
It's imperative that the Nuggets forget this game as quickly as possible in preparation for tomorrow's game against the Miami Heat. No excuses. You chalk this game as the other team winning by sheer luck and you move on. Ruminating on what could have been is counter-productive.
In the positives our Gallo played great (if a bit rusty). Wilson Chandler had himself another great game. Nene continued to play well ... and the Nuggets stayed tough with a team that could have easily blown them out (and in the previous era, most likely would have been). There are positive things to build on, and when you lose on a prayer you have those things to cling to.
Move on. That's all you can do.