Around the Amway - March 18, 2011



By Josh Cohen & Dan Savage | Around the Amway Archive

NELSON LIFTS MAGIC WITH BUZZER BEATER
By Josh Cohen

It’s becoming a familiar theme in Jameer Nelson’s career.

You can interchange a variety of descriptive words to expound his value: Clutch, hero, reliable.

Just like he has done several times this season, Nelson delivered a knockout punch of seismic proportion. On this occasion, however, it was as invigorating as a racing heart can ask for.

Mighty Mouse, as he is affectionately nicknamed, connected on a game-winning straightaway 3-pointer at the buzzer to catapult the Orlando Magic past the Denver Nuggets on Friday.

"I just wanted to get the last shot," Nelson said. "Nobody was open off the initial play; it was up to me to make a play for myself or somebody else."

Though Nelson’s heroic shot could have been avoided as Orlando missed some critical free throws in the final 30 seconds, this kind of dramatic and exhilarating victory may have been exactly what the Magic needed.

Jameer finished with 13 points, while Hedo Turkoglu approached a triple-double with 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and Dwight Howard enjoyed another monster performance with 16 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks.

Wilson Chandler, who was one of the chief pieces in last month’s blockbuster Carmelo Anthony trade, delivered a fine effort for Denver with 20 points. Danilo Gallinari, meanwhile, who was one of the other chips in the deal, recorded 17 points in his return from a toe injury.

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MAGIC-NUGGETS ANALYSIS
By Dan Savage

The Orlando Magic have 12 games remaining on their schedule before they start the postseason, but they had a little taste of playoff action on Friday night.

Caught in the midst of a grind-it-out, playoff-like defensive battle with the resurgent new-look Nuggets, the Magic overcame injuries, turnovers and offensive struggles and pulled out a thrilling 85-82 home triumph over Denver courtesy of a big shot from a player who’s often the barometer of Orlando’s success.

With 5.2 seconds left on the clock, Jameer Nelson received an inbounds pass from Hedo Turkoglu, sized up Raymond Felton, created space and drilled a straightaway game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Magic to one of their most exhilarating victories of the season.

“I just wanted to create a little space to either make a move to get to the basket or to get my jump shot off,” explained Nelson, who finished with 13 points. “I got him back on his heels just a little bit to get my shot off. He played great defense, I was very fortunate to make the shot.”

Following Mighty Mouse’s heroic trey, the Magic broke out into March-Madness-like celebration at center court, which was only fitting considering Orlando played with a do-or-die-like attitude for the majority of the night.

“It felt like a playoff game in terms of the effort we put out for the game, the energy that we used, the emotions involved, the crowd.” Nelson added. “Everything that goes into a playoff game felt like tonight.”

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MOST EXCITING GAME WINNER
By Josh Cohen

After witnessing Jameer Nelson bury a game-winning buzzer-beater on Friday, I started analyzing which sport features the most exhilarating and most awe-inspiring game-winning play.

Here are the nominees:

1) Basketball: Can be a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, mid-range jumper or even a slam dunk (ex. Dwight Howard’s jam against the Spurs in 2007)

2) Football: Can be a last-second touchdown pass or run or a game-clinching field goal as time expires

3) Baseball: Can be a walk-off base hit or better yet, a homerun to seal a victory in the ninth inning or extra innings

4) Soccer: Can be a goal in penalty kicks or a stop by the goalkeeper in the same round

They are all breathtaking moments and incontestably all of them are special in their own way. But if I had to select one, I really feel that there is nothing that gets a stadium more elated than a game-winning buzzer beater in basketball.

Which sport do you think features the most exhilarating type of game-winning play?
Which sport do you think features the most exhilarating type of game-winning play?
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PLAYER PERFORMANCE BREAKDOWN
By Josh Cohen

Here is the general synopsis of how each player performed during the Orlando Magic’s victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday:

Dwight Howard: Was a monster on the boards (18) and made it painfully difficult for Denver to attack the lane with his relentless defensive focus

Hedo Turkoglu: Following a disillusioned first quarter, Turk made practically all the appropriate plays to nearly record a triple double (15 points, nine rebounds, eight assists). He did, however, miss two critical free throws in the final seconds to keep the Nuggets alive

Jameer Nelson: After struggling with his jumper most of the game, Nelson delivered an enormous game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. Any time a player hits a winning shot, praise follows

Jason Richardson: Didn’t have his shot going but did play solid defense on both Arron Afflalo and J.R. Smith

Brandon Bass: Hustled his way to the basket on many possessions, but just had trouble finishing at the rim. He finished with 13 points on 2-of-13 shooting from the field

Ryan Anderson: Did a solid job down low grabbing rebounds and helping on defensive rotations. Like his teammates, however, he couldn’t find the range on his shot

Quentin Richardson & Chris Duhon: With the injuries to J.J. Redick and Gilbert Arenas, Q and Duhon provided just enough support with their defensive aptitude and cautious decisions. They combined for just one turnover in a combined 33 minutes.
INDIVIDUAL GOALS
By Dan Savage

By now, everyone interested in the Magic is familiar with Orlando's team goals as it closes out the regular season. A consistent energy level, lowering the number of turnovers and improving the defense are among the chief concerns.

However, how’s each member of the Magic’s roster attempting to improve on an individual basis for the remainder of the 2010-11 campaign?

Each player reveals that tidbit of information right here:

Ryan Anderson: “My individual goal is to just get better on the defensive end. I just want to get more confident and consistent on the defensive end. Obviously shots aren’t going to fall every night, so on the offensive end you can’t really, besides the energy aspect and getting offensive rebounds, you can’t really control that sometimes. So I think the defensive end is something I can control by just bringing a ton of energy and getting more confident.”

Gilbert Arenas: “Just play hard and smart.”

Brandon Bass: “I just want to be able to look in the mirror after every game and be able to say, ‘I gave it my all.’ That’s it.”

Earl Clark: “Every time I play I want to be productive out there. Just try to be a good teammate and be positive about my situation.”

Chris Duhon: “For me, if I have the opportunity, get out, run the team and play well defensively and be aggressive offensively when I have the opportunity.”

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THE POLLS ARE OPEN
Who do you think was tonight's Player of the Game?
Who do you think was tonight's Player of the Game?
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Do you think Friday's thrilling win will be a major boost for the Magic moving forward?
Do you think Friday's thrilling win will be a major boost for the Magic moving forward?
Latest Opinions

POSTGAME HIGHLIGHTS: