By John Denton
February 26, 2013
The Magic had six players in double figures in scoring. And defensively, Orlando held all-star point guard Jrue Holiday to nine points and 10 assists. That was a dramatically better job than three weeks ago when Holiday carved up the Magic in a 78-61 loss in Philly.
Tuesday’s game featured the stirring return of Harrington, who played for the first time all season following offseason knee surgery and a staph infection that required three more procedures to clean out. Despite facing tall odds of a return, Harrington vowed to get back on the floor at some point this season and he did just that Tuesday night.
Harrington, 33, hit the first shot of the fourth quarter with his toe on the 3-point stripe and then drilled a three seconds later to give the Magic a commanding 75-62 lead. Then, after Harrington found Udrih for a bucket, Harrington converted a nifty up-and-under bucket around Spencer Hawes. And he capped the run with a spinning drive past Thaddeus Young and a pass to Harris for a layup.
``One, I want to thank God for getting me through this. It’s been a long process for me and I want to thank my physical therapist, Ed Manalo. I’m thankful for him to help me get here,’’ said Harrington, who had worked the past 10 months to get back on the floor. ``I wanted to cry (during the game), but I didn’t want to look like a sucker. I held my emotions back, but I’ll probably go cry when I get back in the locker room.’’
The Magic are back in action again Wednesday night, but this time they will be back at home against the Sacramento Kings. Orlando lost 91-82 in Sacramento on Dec. 7. Orlando has not won consecutive games since Dec. 19.
``It makes you realize how hard it is to win in this league,’’ Vaughn said. ``Now, the task is what do we do the next night. We go home and play (Sacramento), which is a good challenge for us. There are lessons that be continually learned for this group. They are facing things they haven’t seen before. Now you get a win on the road and it’s about you how you handle that.’’
Harris and Udrih, acquired last week from Milwaukee along with reserve point guard Doron Lamb, played their second impressive game for the magic despite knowing very few of the plays. Harris attacked the rim all night and used his 6-foot-8 frame to exploit mismatches. He made seven of his nine shots, and Vaughn loves the possibilities of having a player of his versatility.
````He’s been great. He’s just using his energy and competitive nature to get out there and do the right things. We talk about what position is he, but he gives me the luxury of having him guard different people throughout the night. To be able to take advantage of his matchups whether it’s on the post or driving, he’s been great and he’s been fitting right in just like the other two new guys for us.’’
Udrih, a nine-year NBA veteran, had nine more assists to give him 16 assists in two games in a Magic uniform. His presence helped fill the void without Jameer Nelson (patellar tendon bruise) and it allowed Moore to play off the ball. In 33 minutes on the floor, Moore was a plus-24.
Once down 29-20 early in the second quarter following a Damien Wilkins lob dunk, the Magic inexplicably strung together one of their best runs in weeks to zip into the lead. A 14-2 run was keyed by an Moore 3-pointer and two hard drives to the hoop by Harris.
By the time Orlando’s 27-13 run was complete, it had a somewhat stunning 47-42 lead at the half – quite a turnaround from the early nine-point deficit. Afflalo had eight of his 10 points in the second quarter alone, while Nicholson scored nine points in the second period. Their play spurred an efficient and explosive 29-point second quarter for the Magic.
At one point of the second period, the Magic had a stretch of 10 made shots in 14 tries. Orlando dominated the paint in the early going, outscoring Philadelphia 28-18 in the lane. Vucevic had just four points, but he grabbed 10 rebounds and the Magic were a plus-13 in his 19 minutes on the floor in the first half.
Harris didn’t start, but he was into the game in the first five minutes and seemed to fit in with his new teammates just fine. He made all four of his shots in the first half. ``I love it so far. We’ve been really gelling well as a team and building a lot of chemistry,’’ said Harris, who had nine points in the first half. ``I’m just trying to do what my team needs me to do to get the win. I’m trying to create plays and get stops on the defensive end.’’
Follow John Denton on Twitter here