Recap: Bulls 96, Magic 94

January 2, 2013

He’s the key that makes the Magic’s motor go.

Orlando floor general Jameer Nelson has been an essential cog in the Magic machine this season, not only for his offensive production, but for his leadership and playmaking ability as well.

On Wednesday, Orlando’s point guard re-emphasized his immense value to the franchise by erupting for a career-high-tying 32 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists.

“Jameer was rolling,” Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau explained. “He got the ability. He’s been hurt, but he’s been shooting the ball really well for them. So if you give him any airspace right now, he’s knocking that three in.”

In his first game back from a hip injury, Nelson went a scorching 6-for-9 from long range, while maintaining an efficient 11-for-20 performance from the floor.

With the Magic falling into an 18-point second-half deficit, Nelson put the squad on his back, firing off 22 points after halftime.

His effort brought the Magic back within striking distance, giving them a chance to tie or even take the lead with 5.2 seconds left.

Unfortunately, Mighty Mouse came up short as his bank shot to even the score did not fall. Despite a little contact on the play, Nelson was unable to draw the foul and his squad was dealt another tough loss.

“I had a good look, got bumped, but didn’t get the call, just missed the shot,” he explained.

In another difficult defeat, Nelson’s positive locker room presence was again reaffirmed. While some groups could fall apart during a seven-game skid, Orlando’s point guard is making sure this unit stays intact.

“Nobody should hang their heads, it’s not like we’re going out there and not playing hard,” he added. “If we’re doing that as a group, I think you’ll get more frustrated and that’s when finger pointing happens. And one thing we’re not doing is pointing fingers and we shouldn’t because we are in it together.”

That’s why the Magic, who are 11-12 with Nelson on the court and 1-8 with him off of it, are lucky to still have him around.

"This is a great experience for us. The best part about tonight was that there was a stretch in the game where Chicago could have broke our spirits and we stayed together. I think that for the most part we stayed poised throughout the night, fought adversity and gave ourselves a chance to win that ball game. I feel bad for my guys. They're playing hard, they're just not equating to wins yet, but we're going to continue to play hard." - Magic Head Coach Jacque Vaughn
This Statline of the Night goes to the Magic's fourth-quarter defense. After relinquishing 28 points to Chicago in the third, Orlando locked down its interior in the final frame, holding the Bulls to 14 fourth-quarter points.
Photo courtesy of Fernando Medina. | Photo Gallery

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