Nelsonís Heroics Give Orlando Magical Win
Orlando 92, Sacramento 89
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 4 (AP) -- The Magic hadn't won in Sacramento in nearly 13 years, so Jameer Nelson figured a few more seconds of waiting couldn't hurt.
And just like nearly everything the Magic do these days, Nelson's last-second plan worked perfectly.
Nelson rolled off a screen and hit a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left, and the Magic snapped an 11-game losing streak at Arco Arena with a 92-89 victory over the Kings on Monday night.
Nelson could have taken an open shot with six seconds left, but coolly calculated that such a move would leave the Kings with enough time for a set play on the other end. So he grabbed the ball, brushed off another high pick and nailed his shot from at least one step behind the line.
The entire sequence showed the smooth confidence of a veteran winning ballclub - and the Eastern Conference-leading Magic are well on their way to being just such a club. The Magic's six-game winning streak was snapped by the Clippers one night earlier, but they rebounded with poise.
``When we step on the court, we think we're supposed to win now,'' said Nelson, who scored 14 points. ``We go out with a little swagger, and we do whatever we've got to do to win. I got that last shot, but it could have been anybody. It's not about who takes it.''
Dwight Howard had 18 points and 16 rebounds for the Magic, who won for the 11th time in 13 games. It was Orlando's fifth stop on a six-game road trip, its longest of the season - but the Magic's strong start to the season shows no signs of slowing.
``(If) Sacramento made their run last year, we probably would have folded and hung our heads,'' Howard said. ``This year, we hung together and figured out a way to win the game.''
After the Kings' defense stopped Orlando twice, Miller tied it with an awkward layup over Tony Battie's outstretched arms with 25 seconds left.
But after Nelson managed the clock and his defender for the final field goal, Bibby missed a long 3-pointer over two defenders at the buzzer.
With Ron Artest sidelined by a sore lower back, Bibby led the Kings with 19 points and seven assists, but Sacramento shot poorly and couldn't get one final defensive stop in its third straight loss.
``You never give up,'' Miller said. ``We're a veteran team. We're not going to quit.''
Orlando earned the franchise's first victory at Arco Arena since Dec. 19, 1993. Shaquille O'Neal, Penny Hardaway and current Bulls coach and former Magic guard Scott Skiles were the heart of that team - but the coach, Brian Hill, was the same.
``Dwight Howard wasn't even born yet,'' Hill cracked.
Actually, Howard had just turned 8 years old. He left Arco laughing and trading jokes with his teammates.
Hill scored all 10 of his points in the second half for Orlando after playing just two-plus minutes before halftime. Hedo Turkoglu had 14 points against his former team, and Carlos Arroyo scored 12 points to lead the Magic reserves.
``We can't just wait to play hard until the end of the game,'' Bibby said. ``It's still early in the season. We just need to bounce back into the game.''
Ron Artest has battled a sore back all season, and he sat out of Sacramento's loss at San Antonio on Monday. He's unlikely to play Tuesday in Phoenix as the Kings complete a stretch of four games in five nights - and they have another home game against Miami on Thursday.
``We knew this was a difficult stretch against good teams,'' Kings coach Eric Musselman said. ``And we've been close, but not close enough.''
Notes: Bibby scored a career-high 42 points in the Magic's visit to Sacramento last season. ... NBA commissioner David Stern attended the game after a day of meetings with local officials about the Kings' efforts to get a new arena. Stern has taken the lead on negotiations with local government agencies at the request of Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof. Arco Arena is among the league's oldest buildings. ... Turkoglu was the Kings' first-round pick in 2000, playing 221 games over three seasons with Sacramento.
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