Denton: Magic at Bobcats Analysis (12/11/13)

   

Much of the Magic’s success in the first three quarters centered around their defense. Walker averaged 28.8 points in four games against the Magic last season, but he missed his first eight shots and didn’t have a field goal until midway through the third period. Henderson averaged 22.8 points a game against the Magic last season, but he missed eight of his first nine shots.

Said Vaughn: ``At the end of the day defense is about taking that personal challenge on. It was a lot about individual pride tonight and it was good to see. That was a game that I’ve seen in my career where a team at the end of a road trip won’t fight. With our team, there was no consideration of that. Our team came to get a win tonight.’’

Vucevic came into the game averaging 10.9 rebounds a game, and he had eclipsed that mark with 11 boards by the 3-minute mark of the second quarter. He seemed to be making up for lost time by grabbing eight of Orlando’s first nine rebounds. He had 12 points and 11 rebounds in the first half against Charlotte’s smallish frontline.

During the four games that Vucevic missed because of his sore ankle, Orlando was outrebounded 213-143 for the 70-board deficiency. Also, they shot 41.8 percent with him out as opposed to 44.1 percent as a team in the first 17 games of the season.

How big of an impact does Vucevic have being in the Magic lineup? Charlotte came into Wednesday’s game first in the NBA in fewest offensive rebounds allowed a game (9.33). With Vucevic leading the way, Orlando had 10 offensive rebounds and 10 second-chance points in the first two quarters.

``I’m the biggest guy on this team and my job is to protect the paint and rebound. Rebounding is some of the best skill that I have and I’ve just got to keep doing it every game,’’ said Vucevic, who boosted his rebounding average to 11.1 a game. ``It was tough not being on the court and not being able to help my team. But I’m glad that I’m back now.’’

Davis buried a corner jumper at the first-half buzzer to give the Magic a 43-42 advantage at intermission. The shot allowed the Magic to grab a lead despite a shaky first half in which they shot just 38 percent from the floor, missed all eight of their 3-point tries and turned the ball over 10 times.

Asked if Davis might become a consistent 3-point shooter now, Vucevic said: ``I’d like him to just stick to the paint. He made two big ones, but it’s better for us if he sticks to the paint.’’

With Afflalo (three of 11 in first half) and Nelson (zero of six in the first half) struggling, E’Twaun Moore gave the Magic a nice lift off the bench. He had 10 first-half points by getting into the lane several times to create some much-needed offense for the Magic.

Vaughn said his Magic can take great pride in fighting through the fatigue of a long road trip and hanging tough throughout Wednesday’s second half. Charlotte got to within 77-73 and 83-79 late in the fourth quarter, but the resilient Magic had an answer each time.

``Knowing how hard it is to win in this league, that was impressive for us to close the game like that,’’ Nelson said. ``It’s frustrating losing. We definitely needed a game like this where we played well offensively and we were there for one another defensively. We talked more and played more as a team.’’

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