Denton's West Coast Blog - Phoenix

By John Denton
December 9, 2012

Greetings from Phoenix!!! It’s the final stop on the Magic’s marathon road trip and Orlando will be facing a slumping Suns that lost again on Saturday in Los Angeles to the Clippers.

There is plenty riding on this game for the Magic. Win tonight and Orlando goes 3-2 and has a highly successful trip with success at the beginning and the end. Fall tonight and it’s a disappointing three-game losing streak to follow impressive victories against the Lakers and Warriors.

The Magic actually had the day off on Saturday after getting to Phoenix about 2:15 in the morning. Sensing the fatigue and the road weariness of the team head coach Jacque Vaughn gave the guys the day off to rest. It helps sometimes having a coach who played in the NBA for 12 years and someone who knows the rigors of the road and can better take the temperature of his team.

And on Saturday night, the team had a bonding moment when team captain and boxing enthusiast Jameer Nelson arranged for the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight to be shown at the team hotel. Nelson arranged a ballroom and big-screen television and about half of the players and several coaches and staffers showed up for the showing.

And when Marquez knocked Pacman cold with a right hand right to the nose in the sixth round, the room exploded in noise. Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis, who boldly predicted that Marquez would finally beat Pacquiao for the first time, went dancing across the room when his fighter won by knockout.

Moments like that are why Nelson is the most respected leader on the team. He simply gets it when it comes to bringing a team together and making guys feel comfortable. One the one hand, Saturday’s team viewing of the fight could be viewed as just a group of guys getting together to watch some boxing. But Nelson knows that the time spent together Saturday night could pay off Sunday night against the Suns when things get tough out on the floor.

So there is plenty riding on Sunday’s game against the Suns. Orlando has already beaten the Suns once this season, doing so in the second game of the season after scoring 40 points in the third quarter to break things wide open. The Magic have already let winnable games against the Jazz and Kings slip away on this trip, and they know the pressure is on to beat a Suns team that has lost six games in a row.

Just a guess, but I think this Magic team will show plenty of fight tonight when the team finally wraps up this nine-day, five-game trip. That’s all for now.



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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