By John Denton
January 9, 2013
DENVER – It has become a downright excruciating pattern for the snake-bitten Orlando Magic – dominating several stretches and leading early only to lose late in the game.
That heart-breaking model played out once again Wednesday night in Denver, leading to yet another frustrating loss and leaving the Magic wondering what they have to do to make sure fourth quarters in the future more closely resemble their strong play early in games.
Up as much as nine points early in the fourth and leading by seven with 5 minutes to play, the Magic collapsed under an avalanche of Denver free throws and hustle plays by Kenneth Faried in a 108-105 loss to the Nuggets.
For the Magic (12-23), it was their 10th straight loss – most of which have come in similarly heart-breaking fashion. Nine of the 10 losses have been by eight points or less and six of them have been by four points or fewer.
That was the case again Wednesday as the Magic led by eight after one quarter, by two at halftime and by seven going into the final period. But they couldn’t finish it off as Denver outscored Orlando 38-28 in the final period.
What upset Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn the most was that Denver was whistled for just seven fouls all game – and just five in the game’s first 46 minutes. It was the lowest number of fouls that Denver had been called for all season. Meanwhile, Orlando was whistled for 27 fouls and Nikola Vucevic and Arron Afflalo both fouled out in the fourth quarter.
``The best thing is I know that (Denver) coaching staff over there pretty well so I’m going to call Coach (George) Karl and see if I can steal some of his defensive principles to teach his guys how to play and only get seven fouls committed against them,’’ a frustrated Vaughn said. ``I think that’s what I’m going to do. … The best part of it is our guys played hard and there’s got to be a way that I can steal some of those secrets and get my guys to not hand-check like (Karl’s) guys and play in a way that only seven foul calls are against them the entire game.’’
Denver (21-16) made 22 of 36 free throws, while Orlando got to the line just 10 times with nine makes. The Magic were forced to play the final 1:41 without center Vucevic (10 points and 14 rebounds).
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