Denton: Magic vs. Kings Analysis (1/10/14)

   

The Magic are still getting used to being without starting center Nikola Vucevic, who missed his second straight game with a concussion when he fell to the floor head first on Monday in Los Angeles. Vucevic now falls under the guidelines of the NBA’s concussion protocol, meaning he must become symptom-free and pass a battery of tests before he’s even allowed to return to practice. The Magic entered Friday 0-7 this season when they are without Vucevic because of injuries.

The Magic will be back in action Saturday night when they face the Nuggets in Denver. The team isn’t expected to arrive at its team hotel until 3 a.m. local time, making it an extraordinarily difficult challenge. In fact over the past six seasons, only three road times have played on the West Coast one night and won in Denver the next. One of those teams was the 2008-09 Magic, which beat the Lakers and Nuggets in consecutive games.

Said Vaughn: ``I don’t think they are going to cancel that game (on Saturday), so we better get ready. This is what you do. If I’m a doctor and I have a surgery scheduled for tomorrow I can’t just stop. I have to play and be ready. I have to be mindful of things my professionalism is about. We have to stay ready. This is what you were born and raised to do – take on the next challenge and be ready.’’

Orlando will be off on Sunday before closing its five-game, 10-day roadtrip in Dallas on Monday. The Kings entered Friday’s game ranked 29th out of 30 NBA teams in points allowed and field goal percentage allowed, yet they gave Orlando fits for three quarters. The Magic needed 30 minutes to break 50 points and their shooting percentage hovered in the low 30s percentage-wise much of the night.

Down six at the half, Orlando couldn’t get much offense going and fell behind by as much as 17 points in the third quarter. The Magic did finish the quarter with a flurry and was within 76-64 by the start of the fourth quarter.

Orlando started the game exceptionally well, but the second quarter proved to be a problem once again. A Magic team that led 24-18 after one period hit just four of 17 tries in the second quarter and trailed 46-40 at intermission.

``Obviously we relaxed a little bit and they went on a big run,’’ Harris said. ``The big thing for us is we have to respond to teams’ runs, not be discouraged and not put our heads down.’’

Davis missed his first six shots and when he finally found the range on a free throw line jumper in the second quarter he threw his palms up in the air. It also didn’t help matters for the Magic that Nelson (one of six) and Afflalo (three of eight) also struggled to generate much offense in the first half.

Orlando got nice lifts off the bench early on from Andrew Nicholson and Maurice Harkless. Nicholson, who was down briefly after getting poked in the eye, buried a corner 3-pointer and grabbed six rebounds in the first half. Harkless, who is trying to build off two other solid performances this week, had a steal for a dunk and a put-back layup early on to keep the Magic within striking distance.

``Shots just weren’t falling and offense is sometimes fickle with shots falling and not falling,’’ said Nicholson, whose eye was bright pink from the poke. ``We just have to get back and play D when the offense struggles.’’

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