By John Denton
January 9, 2013

That became problematic for the smallish Magic. A play that symbolized the Magic’s frustration came with 1:36 to play when Josh McRoberts and Andrew Nicholson battled for a rebound, lost the ball and Faried (19 points and 19 rebounds) recovered it and called a timeout. Seconds later, Denver point guard Ty Lawson converted a three-point play to break a 99-all tie and the Nuggets never trailed again.

``Both teams played hard. I’m not going to comment on the fouls, not going to comment on the refs,’’ Magic captain Jameer Nelson said. ``Of course it’s tough to lose games. No matter how many you lose in a row, we’re still going to compete and put our effort out there. Things could have gone differently, but we’ve just got to stick together.’’

The difficult loss came on the heels of Orlando’s 125-119 overtime loss in Portland just two days earlier. Nelson scored 20 points and J.J. Redick added 17 points and four 3-pointers.

``So they only fouled seven times the whole game?’’ Afflalo asked. ``I wasn’t even thinking about that during the game.’’

Afflalo, who had averaged 22 points over his previous nine games, struggled in his return to Denver. Afflalo, who played for the Nuggets the previous three seasons, made just four of 14 shots and scored only 12 points before also fouling out. ``(The homecoming) was not good,’’ Afflalo said. ``They played well down the stretch and did what they needed to do to win.’’

Orlando will be off on Thursday and then practice on Friday in Los Angeles before playing the Clippers on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. The team’s four-game, nine-day road trip concludes Monday night in Washington against the Wizards.

Wednesday’s game was the second of the season between the Magic and Nuggets. Orlando thumped Denver 102-89 in the season-opener at the Amway Center. But that was a game in which Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis made 13 of 25 shots and scored 29 points and the Magic briefly had a healthy Hedo Turkoglu.

Turkoglu, who did not play Wednesday as he continues to work his way back into shape, broke his hand against Denver in November and had to miss the next eight weeks. As for Davis, he hasn’t played in the past 10 games because of a sprained shoulder that he injured two weeks ago.

``Orlando is a team that gives a lot of people problems with the way that they play by taking so many jump shots,’’ Karl said. ``They are a lot better than their record because they have had a lot of games just like this where they were close at the end and had a chance to win. We just did enough to beat them.’’

The Magic briefly lost the lead early in the third quarter, but they hung tough thanks to some dead-eye shooting and highly efficient play from Redick. When Redick drilled consecutive 3s and a one-on-one jumper that had him glaring at the Denver bench on his way back up the floor, Orlando had a 75-66 lead. In his first 18 minutes, Redick scored 17 points, handed out three assists and the Magic were a plus-21 with him on the floor. That play allowed Orlando to take an impressive 77-70 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Magic withstood an early bout with turnovers and a couple of Denver runs and still led 55-53 at the intermission. Orlando got big contributions from its reserves in the first half with the bench scoring 26 points, grabbing eight rebounds and handing out eight assists.

Vaughn turned to the Magic’s blossoming rookies early in the game, and each responded with encouraging plays. DeQuan Jones had a highlight-worthy dunk to go along with seven points and four assists in the first half. Kyle O’Quinn made an immediate impact early in the game by drilling two jumpers, while Maurice Harkless converted a tough layup just before the halftime horn. O’Quinn also played a role in one of the first half’s best highlights by passing to Josh McRoberts, who converted a dazzling reverse dunk in traffic in the second quarter.

Rookie Andrew Nicholson scored 12 points, including converting a drive that put Orlando up 81-72 with 10:33 to play. Jones scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Harkless (nine points and six rebounds) and O’Quinn (four points and two blocked shots) were solid as well

``It was a great effort by (Jones, O’Quinn, Harkless and Nicholson). They gave us a lot and they were prepared to play,’’ Vaughn said. ``You learn a lot throughout the course of this season and they learned a lesson tonight that we will talk about as a team a little later.’’

Vaughn said he was anxious to watch the replay of Wednesday’s game to see why there was such a disparity in the foul calls in the game. The rookie coach was as aggravated Wednesday night as he has been all season, and clearly he was a man looking for some answers following Wednesday’s frustrating loss.

``It’ll be interesting to watch it on film,’’ he said. ``Film never lies and we all get critiqued and we’re all held to a standard. I’m looking forward to seeing (Denver’s) seven fouls.’’

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