Denton: Afflalo's Remarkable Streak
By John Denton
Dec. 31, 2013
ORLANDO – Challenged last offseason with becoming the kind of standout player who makes both his team and his teammates better, Orlando Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo is taking his efficiency to stratospheric levels this season.
Afflalo entered Tuesday’s afternoon game against the Golden State Warriors riding one of the best streaks not only of his career, but one of the best in NBA history. In each of the five games prior to Tuesday, Afflalo had scored more than 20 points, shot better than 50 percent from the floor and better than 50 percent from 3-point range.
The only two players to have a similar streak of more than five games straight since the 1985-86 season was Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird and Seattle forward Detlef Schrempf, who did it six times apiece in 1986 and ’95 respectively. Eight others players – one of whom was Jason Richardson when he played for the Suns and Magic in 2010 – have had five straight games with 20-plus points and at least 50 percent shooting from the floor and 3-point range. Thirty-one players have done it over a four-game stretch since the 1985-86 season.
Afflalo’s five-game streak came to an end on Tuesday in the 94-81 loss to the Warriors. He played just three minutes of the fourth quarter because of the one-sided nature of the score and finished with just 15 points. He made just seven of 18 shots and missed all four of his 3-point tries. Golden State focused much of its game plan on slowing Afflalo, using defensive ace Andre Iguodala on him and having shot-blocker Andrew Bogut stay nearby to contest drives.
Afterward, Afflalo said he had no clue that he was even in the midst of a potential record-setting streak. He even found some humor in an otherwise forgettable night for the Magic.
``Man, I wish you would have told me (about the five-game streak). Well, that’s over now,’’ said Afflalo, who had to force up three field goal tries at the end of the shot clock. ``I’ll start over. I wish I would have known because I would have been careful about some of those shots that I was taking. … Just recently I’ve been trying to be as efficient as possible. I guess sometimes the numbers just work out when you play the game well. But I was unaware (of the streak).’’
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn has marveled all season at the growth that Afflalo has shown from last season. The two of them talked about Afflalo becoming a more efficient player this season and the shooting guard has followed through on that goal.
``He’s just been extremely locked in to what makes him successful,’’ Vaughn said of Afflalo. ``Last year he was able to put himself in different positions that he hadn’t been in before. He took the summer to diagnose that and get better in some areas. He’s been extremely efficient for us because he takes shots that he can make. He puts himself in position where teammates can hit him for shots that he’s comfortable taking.’’
During Afflalo’s five games before Tuesday – excluding the Utah game on Dec. 18 that he missed because of a tonsils issue – he averaged 23.8 points per game while making 42 of 69 shots (60.8 percent) and 13 of 17 3-pointers (76.5 percent). He’s scored 23, 26, 26, 23 and 21 points in those games.
Afflalo’s efficiency has helped him average career-bests in scoring (21.7 ppg.), rebounds (4.4 rpg.), assists (4.0 apg.) and 3-point shooting (43.6 percent). Afflalo’s improvement has also put him potentially in position for another first in his career – an appointment to the NBA All-Star Game.
``Arron Afflalo is playing at an all-star level,’’ Golden State coach Mark Jackson said before Tuesday’s game. ``He presents challenges for teams certainly with the way that he’s playing. You don’t stop him with one guy. We’ll have to pay attention to him like he’s a No. 1 guy, which is what he’s playing like.’’
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