By John Denton
November 16, 2012

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The true impact of having veteran point guard Jameer Nelson back on the floor isn’t just in the way he organizes the Orlando Magic’s offense or provides points and passes with his fearless drives to the hoop. Sometimes the longest-tenured Magic player and co-captain does his best work with his fiery words to his teammates away from the public eye.

Nelson’s leadership, which came to the forefront Friday night during an emotional third-quarter pep talk during a timeout and the Magic trailing by 10 points, proved to be the inspiration behind Orlando’s 110-106 defeat of Detroit at The Palace.

Nelson, playing his first game in two weeks after missing six games because of a strained groin/hamstring combination, scored all 13 of his points in the second half to key a Magic rally. Nelson’s words combined with a clutch 3-pointer from J.J. Redick with 42.8 seconds to play allowed Orlando (3-5) to break a five-game losing streak.

``It’s big for us to pull out a game like that,’’ said Nelson, who added 10 assists. ``To be down 10 points in the second half and get stops when we needed to and score when we needed to, it was impressive. I knew we could do it, but we just needed to do it.’’

Most impressive of all was the way that the 6-foot Nelson gathered the team around him in the huddle late in the third quarter and blistered his teammates for allowing Detroit (1-9) to control the game. As a nine-year NBA veteran and the undisputed leader of the Magic, Nelson knew it was a crucial moment in the game for the Magic to either rally or lose again.

So he spoke up. And he spoke loudly. And he said he used some words that he wouldn’t dare repeat for anyone else. And clearly his Magic mates got the message. As it turns out, the Magic outscored Detroit 45-31 after Nelson’s timeout talk.

``We had to deliver our blow and be the aggressors,’’ Nelson said. ``We had to do everything harder and be tougher. I felt like 1-through-15 (players) we were getting punked and we weren’t doing the same to them. So we made some adjustments, set screens, put the ball in the right people’s hands and made some big stops.’’

With the Magic trailing 102-101 with 47 seconds to play, Redick inbounded the ball to Nikola Vucevic, ran off a Glen Davis screen, took a feed from the Magic center and calmly drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to put Orlando back into the lead.

``We ran it a couple of times in practice when we were working on end-of-game situations, so it was something we had worked on. We got good looks in practice, so I thought we would again,’’ Redick said. ``Baby (Davis) ran a little misdirection and they bit on it. Nik made a great pass. If anything, (head coach) Jacque (Vaughn) gets the credit because he drew up a great play.

After Magic guard Arron Afflalo forced Detroit center Greg Monroe into a miss, Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis hit a hook shot to all but seal the victory. It was Orlando’s first victory since the second game of the season against the Phoenix Suns. It was also the first time in nearly two weeks that the Magic topped the 100-point plateau.

Vaughn marveled at the grit and determination of his team to respond to Nelson’s message and rally in the second half. And Vaughn was happy to see how the Magic played much better down the stretch.

``That was a great team win,’’ Vaughn said. ``We made stops and we knew if we did that we could get a good look on offense. So it was a great ability by us to get stops down the stretch to give ourselves a chance.’’

Redick had a team-high 23 points and three 3-pointers, while Afflalo scored 19 points. Nelson made just four of 11 shots, but his leadership and gritty play were key in the second half. Vaughn had flattering praise of Redick for stepping into what proved to be the game-winning shot.

``That was a great shot by (Redick) and he’s a guy when he shoots I think it’s going in every single time,’’ Vaughn said. ``That’s great confidence to have in him. He deserves to make shots.’’

Davis added 17 points and 13 rebounds with 10 points and six rebounds coming after halftime. Vucevic added 11 points and 13 rebounds for a Magic team that outrebounded Detroit 44-30.

``As a leader, I’ve got to do more. I’ve got to get every rebound and be in every play in order for us to win,’’ Davis said. ``I did not want to lose this game. This is a big game for us.’’

The game was the first of a three-game roadtrip for the Magic. Orlando is in Toronto on Sunday afternoon and in Atlanta on Monday night. The Magic and the Pistons play again Wednesday night in Orlando at the Amway Center.

Trailing 75-65 late in the third quarter, Nelson called out his teammates in a timeout for getting upset about negative plays and not getting the ball. With so many young players on the roster, Orlando clearly missed their veteran point guard of late for his willingness to speak up and call teammates out when they are lagging.

``It’s easier to do something like that when you are playing because guys can see what you are doing. Obviously these guys know that I can lead and I’ve been in the league long enough to do it,’’ Nelson said. ``It’s just easier to set an example to guys when you can do it with your play.’’

Fittingly enough, the Magic responded with six straight points to get within 75-71 by the end of the third period. Vaughn said when he heard Nelson addressing the team, he simply backed away and let the team captain do his thing.

``He’s our leader and there’s no doubt about that. He’s the captain and our leader in the locker room. He orchestrates things on the floor and he gathers guys in time outs and gets them straight,’’ Vaughn said. ``I tried to be a good coach and I stayed out of the (team) huddle. I stayed in the huddle with my coaches and I let him be a leader. There are times in the game where it’s not meant for a coach to say anything. It’s for the player who is out there on the floor playing and getting hit. He did a good job of rallying our guys and bringing them in together down the stretch.’’

The Magic trailed 50-44 at the break despite outplaying the Pistons much of the second period. Orlando dominated the boards in the first 24 minutes, holding a 19-13 edge on the glass.

Afflalo was emotional and especially difficult on himself after Tuesday’s loss to New York, vowing to be better in the next game. Afflalo, who started his NBA career with the Pistons in 2007, came out aggressive by hitting five of seven shots for 12 first-half points.

Orlando trailed by as much as 10 points early in the first quarter as Detroit’s Monroe and Drummond repeatedly got to the rim with ease. But once the Magic clogged the lane and kept the Pistons off the glass, they quickly zipped into the lead. Monroe made his first four shots and had eight of Detroit’s first 19 points. But he didn’t have a field goal attempt in the second quarter as the Magic defense clamped down on him each time he touched the ball.

Said Vaughn: ``We just gave up way too many points in the paint. I think we gave up (64) points in the paint and we tried to make some adjustments with our defense.’’

Nelson struggled mightily in the first half, missing all five of his shots early on. Nelson came up way shot on his only 3-point try, air-balling the attempt from the straight on. But he didn’t let the slow start or even the 10-point deficit in the third quarter deter him from leading Orlando to its first victory in nearly two weeks.

``This is so big for us,’’ Nelson said. ``It’s tough to win any NBA game, but on the road it’s even tougher. They made some runs and we got tougher and stopped them. So this is really big for us.’’

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

 

 

 




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