By John Denton
ORLANDO -- Up as much as 19 points and inexplicably cruising by another powerhouse team, the Orlando Magic were hit with a heavy dose of reality and Los Angeles Clippers’ explosiveness in the third quarter on Wednesday night.
But here is the difference in this Magic team as opposed to the one from last season that was filled mostly with rookies and second-year players: Orlando picked itself up from a sudden game-turning 29-5 run and went right back at the deep and dynamic Clippers in a tight fourth quarter.
Orlando showed the kind of steely resolve of a veteran team down the stretch on Wednesday night, matching the elite-level Clippers basket-for-basket in the tense moments. And when Arron Afflalo and Nik Vucevic made clutch jumpers in the final two minutes it allowed the Magic to glide past the Clippers 98-90 at a boisterous Amway Center.
``They made their run and last year we probably would have gotten down on ourselves and separated, but this year we’re just so close as a team,’’ said Vucevic, who steadied the Magic with 30 points and 21 rebounds. ``We belief in each other more and we know each other better. We have a better team chemistry and that’s helping us stay together. This year, we know no matter what the other team does we just have to keep doing what we do and believe.’’
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