By John Denton
November 30, 2012
Because of the injuries, the Magic have been forced to use eight different starting lineups so far. Orlando is 4-4 with Nelson, their longest-tenured player, in the lineup, but only 1-6 without him. Head coach Jacque Vaughn said that Nelson’s status is day-to-day and he will be re-evaluated on Sunday morning before the game against the Lakers.
Davis scored 16 points for the Magic, while Nelson’s replacement – E’Twaun Moore – chipped in 13 points. Nikola Vucevic had 12 points and six boards, but continued to struggle with his shot inside.
Afflalo (two of 10, five points) and Redick (zero of four) struggled against Joe Johnson (22 points), Gerald Wallace (20 points, five 3-pointers and four rebounds) and Deron Williams (11 points and seven assists). The Nets didn’t have Brook Lopez (foot sprain), but Andray Blatche contributed 14 points and nine rebounds. The Nets made 11 of 20 3-point shots with eight of the makes coming after halftime.
``You don’t expect Gerald Wallace to hit five out of six threes, but he’s capable and he’s done it before in his career,’’ Redick said. ``Deron and Joe really create everything for that team. Joe had it going early and Deron got it going before the end of the first half. They’re a very dangerous team.’’
The Magic made just one of 11 3-point tries in the game and are three of 26 over the last two games.
Said Afflalo: ``it might be good to get out on the road a little bit and see some new environments. Hopefully we make some changes so we can come back home and represent well.’’
The Magic, winners four times this season when trailing at the half, seemed inspired to start the second half by scoring three quick buckets to take a 50-48. However, the Nets responded with four 3-pointers – three of which came from Wallace to break the game open. Wallace, never known as much of a shooter from distance, made seven of his first nine shots and five of six from 3-point range.
Brooklyn took a 76-65 lead into the fourth quarter after making a staggering six of seven 3-pointers in the third period. Wallace made all four of his shots from beyond the arc in the third quarter.
The Magic were within 45-44 at the half thanks, in part, to two buzzer-beating shots. Reserve point guard Ish Smith, who the Magic have pressed to be more aggressive offensively, ended the first quarter with a fade-away jumper over Kris Humphries to beat the buzzer.
Moore then drilled a bank shot just before the halftime horn to pull the Magic within one point of the lead. Both of the shots by Smith and Moore were reviewed by the officials and upheld.
The buzzer-beaters capped a first half in which the Magic shot 44.2 percent from the floor and nearly matched the Nets on the glass. Several members of the Magic consider Brooklyn to be the most physical team they have faced so far this season, and rebounding and playing with toughness were points of emphasis coming into Friday’s game.
Vaughn said that his team came in much more focused on Friday and the team will need to carry that intensity and sharpness on the road. The Magic have trailed at the half in 12 of their 15 games so far, so Vaughn has stressed the need to get off to better starts so the they don’t have to play from behind.
``I was pleased with our approach at the beginning of the game,’’ Vaughn said. ``I thought we had a great mindset going into the game. That was the challenge that I wanted our guys to accept and they did. There was a focus, a good effort and energy and now we have to where it’s sustained throughout the course of 48 minutes.’’
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