By John Denton
December 26, 2012
The Magic will practice on Thursday before flying to Washington to face the Wizards on Friday night. Orlando will be back at the Amway Center on Saturday night when it faces the Toronto Raptors.
New Orleans (6-22) broke an 11-game losing streak and won for the first time since Dec. 3. Also, it was the Hornets’ first road win since Nov. 26. Former Magic forward Ryan Anderson, who was involved in a sign-and-trade transaction with the Hornets in July, had 15 points, five rebounds and a 3-pointer against his former team.
Anderson, who has split time between being a reserve and a starter, checked into the game midway through the first period and received cheers from the sellout crowd at the Amway Center. He said before the game that whether he got an ovation or not that he would always remember Orlando fondly because the fan support he received and the opportunity he got to launch his career.
Anderson, who entered Wednesday’s game as the NBA’s leader in 3-pointers made with 88, took all four of his shots from beyond the arch in the first half. He made only one 3-pointer in the game against a small Magic lineup used to take away his shooting from distance.
``It’s hard to explain out on the court how you feel during that moment. It was so cool,’’ Anderson said of the ovation. ``I want the people to know that I loved playing here.’’
The Magic allowed the Hornets to make 11 of their first 14 shots in the first quarter. Lopez scored 14 of New Orleans’ first 20 points. New Orleans, which also got 12 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots from top overall pick Anthony Davis, shot 50 percent from the field for the game.
``It wasn’t our normal defensive effort,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. One of Orlando’s best defensive efforts of the night still resulted in a turnover, epitomizing the night for the Magic. E’Twaun Moore (10 points and six rebounds) blocked a Vazquez shot with 25.1 seconds remaining, but fell out of bounds with the ball, giving it back to the Hornets. Vazquez then drilled two free throws, putting New Orleans back ahead by three points.
Orlando had one last chance to even the game, but was unable to get a 3-point shot from Redick. Instead the ball went to Vucevic, whose 3-point attempt was online, but just short.
``The play wasn’t for me, but they covered J.J. and I got wide open,’’ said Vucevic, who was most frustrated by his defense on Lopez. ``It looked good, but unfortunately I didn’t make it.’’
Unable to stop in the inside-outside duo of Lopez and Vazquez much of the night, the Magic fell behind by as much as 10 points during the third quarter. Lopez, who has made tremendous strides as a low-post player, had a season-best 27 points through three quarters by bedeviling the Magic on pick-and-roll dives to the rim.
But the Magic finished the third period with a flurry, outscoring New Orleans 9-2 in the final 90 seconds of the period to get within 78-76 by the start of the fourth.
The Magic offense was nearly as good as it has been all season in the first half, allowing them to lead 53-49 at halftime. Orlando made 23 of 37 shots in the first 24 minutes and the 62.2 percent shooting was the best in a first half all season by the Magic.
In the first half alone, Orlando had assists on 17 of their 23 field goals, made seven 3-pointers and turned the ball over just five times. Nelson was spectacular in several facets with 13 points, eight assists and three 3-pointers in the first half alone.
In the end, the strong start offensively couldn’t overcome a frustrating night defensively. Nelson, the Magic’s leader on the floor and in the locker room, said the team must come with a better mindset and a toughness before Friday night in Washington, D.C.
``I don’t think we played hard enough defensively,’’ Nelson said. ``Overall it’s not any one guy; it’s all of us together. We have to do things harder and be tougher out there. Whatever we have to do, we have to do it.’’
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