By John Denton
December 7, 2012
Mercurial center DeMarcus Cousins scored 17 points and grabbed 14 boards for the Kings, which have won all six of their games in Sacramento. Cousins made just five of 13 shots and was benched much of the fourth quarter.
The Magic wrap up their five-game, nine-day road trip on Sunday night in Phoenix. Orlando opened the trip by beating the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night and toppling the Golden State Warriors on Monday. Orlando fell victim to poor shooting and sloppy ball-handling on Wednesday in Utah.
Orlando entered the fourth quarter up 64-62 following a furious charge in the third period. But it quickly lost the lead in the third period when the ball movement bogged down and the team was forced to take several hurried shots at the horn. The Kings used the Magic misses and turnovers and converted a whopping 25 points on the fastbreak.
``We can’t put that pressure on ourselves that we have to make threes,’’ Nelson said. ``We just have to play well and play together. They did a good job pushing the pace and I feel like they deserved to win the game because they played harder for longer stretches of the game. … We just have to value the ball better because when we do we get better shots.’’
After shooting just 35 percent in the first half, the Magic turned up the intensity and the pace in the third quarter. The result was a stretch where Orlando hit eight of 11 shots and used a 16-0 spurt to vault into the lead. Orlando held the Kings scoreless for more than 4 minutes to go from down 52-43 to up 59-54.
Nelson, who has had some of his best stretches of the season in the third quarter, did it again on Friday. He made the Magic’s first two 3-pointers of the game and scored 10 points in the third quarter alone.
Thanks to the hustle of Afflalo and Redick, the Magic made a second-quarter push and got within 36-32. But another bad stretch late in the second quarter left Orlando down 46-34 at the half.
The Magic hit just 14 of 40 shots in the first 24 minutes. To make matters worse, they turned the ball over nine times, resulting 12 Sacramento points. Three of those turnovers were Davis’ as he tried driving into traffic in the lane and lost the ball.
Remarkably, the Magic had just one basket outside of the lane in the first half. They missed all five of their 3-point tries and misfired on just about everything else from distance in the first 24 minutes.
For Vaughn, the message continues to be that the Magic have to play crisp and with intensity for a full 48 minutes to be successful. For a second straight game, Orlando fell behind by double digits in the first half.
``We gave them a 12-point start in the first half and a lot of times things have to go your way perfectly to get back into the game,’’ Vaughn said. ``There needs to be an aggressive nature as soon as that ball is thrown up in the air. That’s how we have to play.’’
Much like Wednesday night in Utah, the Magic got off to a dreadful start shooting the ball. Orlando scored just 16 points in the first quarter after making just seven of 19 points and turning the ball over six times for 11 Sacramento points. And before Redick converted a backup layup early in the second period, Orlando had missed 17 of its first 24 shots.
A despondent Davis said the Magic have to win games like Friday’s if they want to make a serious run at the playoffs this season. He said Sunday’s finale of the road trip will test the team’s resolve.
``These have got to be games that we win with no problem,’’ Davis said emphatically. ``It has to be with our execution and us doing the right things. If we play the right way, we win this game.’’
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