Denton's Dish: The 5th Quarter (4/9/14)
By John Denton
April 9, 2014
ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic turned the game around in the second quarter thanks to a big lift from reserve guard E’Twaun Moore and it executed well time and again down the stretch to defeat the Brooklyn Nets 115-111 at the Amway Center.
Here are five takeaways from the Magic’s second victory of the season against the Nets:
THREE-TWAUN: Orlando got a quick burst of points from reserve guard Moore in the second quarter to go from tailing by two points to up by nine points.
During a two-minute stretch of the second quarter, Moore made five straight shots – four of them 3-pointers – for 14 consecutive points. Once he heated up, Moore didn’t hesitate on pulling the proverbial trigger, drilling deep threes on transition plays.
``It’s just like once you hit one or two you feel like you are on fire,’’ Moore said. ``It feels good and you keep going. You’re in the moment and you take advantage of the moment.’’
Incredibly, fellow reserve guard Doron Lamb denied Moore the opportunity for a heat check, launching up a 27-footer even though Moore had scored 14 straight points. And 37 seconds later, Moore was out of the game as starter Maurice Harkless returned as part of the usual rotation.
Moore’s biggest shot of the night came at the end of the third quarter when he drilled a 27-foot 3-pointer with one-tenth of a second on the clock. The shot gave the Magic an 83-78 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Magic teammates Victor Oladipo and Kyle O’Quinn said it’s not uncommon for Moore to rip of 10, 12 or 15 straight makes on 3-point shots during practice shooting drills.
``We’re not strangers to what he did because he runs (the makes) off one after another in shooting drills,’’ O’Quinn said. ``He’s very capable, but to see him doing it out there in a game it means a lot. It was good to see him get into a groove like that and go 5-for-5 from three.’’
FINISHING STRONG: Arron Afflalo was locked in and aggressive all night long and his 25 points were the most he’s scored since Feb. 21 against the New York Knicks in an overtime win.
Afflalo missed five games from Feb. 23 through March 2 with a sprained ankle and an illness and he’s struggled in the weeks since then. Afflalo admitted on Wednesday night that he went through a down period in part because he was upset about once again being out of the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference. Afflalo said that he didn’t not handle the losing well and allowed it to briefly sour his outlook on the season.
``These last five games (of the regular season) I need to make sure I show up and close out the season strong,’’ Afflalo said. ``To be honest, after I came back from the ankle injury and got a slow start, my mindset slightly changed because of the nature of our season. Not being competitive for the playoffs, it was kind of a difficult thing to handle. But it’s just a maturity thing on my end and I still have to show up and play hard.’’
QUOTABLE: ``That’s an experienced team that we were playing and it was a really good job by our guys of not panicking the entire night, even down to the possession where Kyle (O’Quinn) is inbounding the ball, they overplay Jameer (Nelson) and Maurice (Harkless) back cuts and Kyle delivers a pass. Overall, it was a lot of good things from us and continuing to learn at the end of the game not to panic.’’ – Magic coach Jacque Vaughn on his team’s execution at the end of the game
STAT OF THE NIGHT: Moore needed just 2 minutes and eight seconds in the second quarter to pump in 14 consecutive points for the Magic.
The Magic came into the game wanting to run at the older Nets, who had played a night earlier in Miami. Moore took that game plan to heart, sprinting back hard on the fastbreak to fill the shooting lanes on the wing.
Victor Oladipo had three assists on Moore’s four 3-pointers in the second period. Oladipo also had the pass ahead on Moore’s long 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter that gave Orlando some big-time momentum going into the fourth period.
In their time on the floor, Moore was a plus-17, while Oladipo was a plus-14. Oladipo has competed against Moore since the two of them played at Indiana and Purdue respectively, and he said it was no surprise to see the shooting guard get hot stroking shots from the 3-point line.
``When E gets hot like that it’s hard to not be excited and not pass him the ball,’’ Oladipo said. ``When you shoot with him in practice, he’ll go for like 15 to 20 in a row. He can really shoot the ball. So when he gets hot, it’s always good for us. I’ve seen him when I was playing against him at Purdue, so this doesn’t surprise me.’’
NO NIK: Nikola Vucevic missed his third straight game on Wednesday night because of a sore left Achilles’ tendon, but the Magic center reported some improvement in the injury. He also is hoping to play again for the Magic before the end of the regular season, which comes next Wednesday.
``I’m feeling better and I’m doing some different stuff for rehab,’’ Vucevic said. ``It’s getting better and I just have to take it day-by-day and we’ll go from there. It’s just part of being an athlete sometimes, knowing how to deal with injuries.’’
Vucevic has had plenty of experience dealing with injuries this season, missing 21 games with ankle, Achilles and concussion injuries. The Magic have had a tough time getting stops and rebounding the ball without their 7-footer, going 3-17 in the first 20 games that Vucevic missed.
The timing of the latest injury was especially unfortunate for Vucevic considering that he was playing some of his best basketball of the season down the stretch. He had three straight 20-point games two weeks ago against Portland, Charlotte and Toronto and he chipped in 23 rebounds in the home defeat of the Bobcats.
``I think I’ll be able to play by the end of the season,’’ Vucevic said. ``After the ankle sprain and the concussion took me out of rhythm, I was feeling very good and playing at a high level and finally getting back to where I was at the beginning of the season. But (injuries) happen and I’ve just got to get it back to 100 percent and get back on the court.’’