By John Denton
February 4, 2013
Vucevic, the only Magic player to appear in every game this season, and E’Twaun Moore kept the Magic within two points late in the second quarter and seven points at halftime. But the lack of healthy bodies, 3-point shooting and being at the end of the long road trip caught up to Orlando in the second half.
``We held them to 78 points and made them struggle, but tonight we just couldn’t make a shot,’’ Vucevic said. ``They played well and you have to give them credit. We just didn’t play well offensively. I thought we got pretty good looks, but we just couldn’t knock them down.’’
Moore, who moved over from point guard to shooting guard, scored 18 points. Vucevic, whom the Magic acquired in August from Philadelphia, had nine points and 14 rebounds, narrowly missing his 27th double-double. Rookie Andrew Nicholson provided some punch off the bench with 11 points.
For the Magic, it was the 10th straight loss – the second such streak of the season. Orlando has slumped to 21 losses in the past 23 games with the victories coming, strangely enough, against playoff teams in Indiana and the Los Angeles Clippers.
``I really give credit to the character of the guys that suit up, play and are in that locker room, regardless of who is playing or who is not playing,’’ Vaughn said of his team’s continual fight. ``They had it in their minds that we were going to come here and play hard and try to get a win and nothing less.’’
The Magic had no answers for Philadelphia all-star guard Jrue Holiday, who carved them up for 13 points and 14 assists. Spencer Hawes, the starter at center all season with Andrew Bynum yet to play because of troublesome knees, scored 21 points.
The game concluded a five-game, nine-day roadtrip and the Magic returned to Orlando in the early hours of Tuesday. The Magic will host the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night at the Amway Center. Orlando defeated the Clippers 104-101 on Jan. 12 in Los Angeles.
``The more (players) we can get back and the healthier that we can get, the better it obviously it is for us,’’ Vaughn said. ``We just have to be careful of putting too much pressure on guys coming back and also not wearing out guys who are playing. … It’s up to us to be smart about how we do things going forward.’’
Because of injuries, the Magic had just two healthy guards – Ish Smith and Moore – dressed for the game. That meant that forward Hedo Turkoglu served as the backup point guard and initiated much of the offense. Vucevic, Harkless and McRoberts started alongside of Smith and Moore.
Knowing full well that points would be at a premium all night, the Magic struggled shooting the ball in the first half and trailed 42-35 at the break. Orlando shot just 37.2 percent in the first two quarters and missed all seven of their 3-point attempts.
Moore took on more of a playmaking role as the starter at shooting guard and had 12 points in the first half. He keyed an 8-0 run in the second quarter that got the Magic within 35-33 in the second quarter. Moore converted a layup by wrapping a dribble behind his back for one basket and then sank a righty runner with his left hand.
``I’m just staying positive. It’s our job to play basketball, so no matter who is here we have to come out and do our jobs,’’ Moore said. ``I just look at it that way and come out to compete every night.’’
Eager to prove himself against his former team, Vucevic was clearly ready to play in the first half. He had nine points and 11 boards in the first 24 minutes and he attempted all four of Orlando’s first-half free throws.
``It was fun to see all of the (Philadelphia) guys that I played with last year,’’ Nicholson said of his Philadelphia reunion. ``I’m still friends with those guys and some of the coaches. I wish we would have got a win, but it was still fun though.’’
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