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News » Orlando comes alive just in time


Orlando comes alive just in time


Orlando comes alive just in time
MINNEAPOLIS -- University of Minnesota Coach Tubby Smith stood outside the Orlando Magic dressing room when Stan Van Gundy came out of the door. Van Gundy had a look of relief after the Magic struggled to beat the woeful Timberwolves 118-94 Saturday night at the Target Center.

"How are you, Coach?" Smith said.

"I'm good now. I'm good after that fourth quarter," Van Gundy said. "I was either going to shoot myself . . . or shoot them."

The Magic improved their record to 24-6 and their winning streak to seven. It is the franchise's longest winning streak since the club won eight in a row in the 2005-06 season. Orlando has won 11 of its past 12 games.

The revival of the defense and the return of point guard Jameer Nelson from the X-ray room prevented the Magic from being upset by the 5-24 T-wolves.

Nelson shook off a third-quarter toe injury and the Magic got their heart back into stopping the T-wolves late to remain on a roll. "It showed up way late," Van Gundy said.

With the scored tied at 82-82, Orlando dug in and Nelson scored 12 of his 20 points during a remarkable 32-10 run.

After Rashad McCants' jumper made it 90-84, the Magic surged ahead by nine at 96-87. Nelson had a layup and a jumper, and rookie Courtney Lee added a layup.

McCants and Rodney Carney tied the game at 82 with 3-pointers, and the Magic were getting a taste of their own long-range medicine.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 26 points, Rashard Lewis 24 and Dwight Howard added 17 points, just five rebounds and five blocks.

Trailing 55-53 at halftime, the Magic found themselves behind by seven at 60-53 after guard Randy Foye's basket.

Orlando then went on one of its more impressive runs of the season, outscoring the T-wolves 16-1 to take a 69-61 lead.

Three-pointers by Keith Bogans and Lewis highlighted the scoring splurge, but Nelson's injury momentarily tempered the excitement. He was replaced by veteran backup Anthony Johnson.

Nelson left the game with eight minutes left in the third quarter, grimacing and limping as he headed to the dressing room. The initial report was that he had a jammed toe on his right foot, but X-rays revealed no serious damage.

Nelson, who has been playing his best stretch of Basketball in his five-year career, returned with 9:35 remaining in the game.

Lewis' drive put the Magic ahead 74-65, but the Magic still couldn't put away the T-wolves. Ryan Gomes cut the lead to 79-74 with a bucket.

Things started out easy for the Magic -- way too easy, as it turned out.

They stormed to a 17-2 lead and Howard looked unstoppable, even hitting a nine-foot bank shot.

But there is no slaughter rule in the NBA, and the Timberwolves stayed around. After trailing early by 15, they outscored the Magic 20-14 to trail 31-22 heading into the second quarter.

The T-wolves figured out the Magic had left their defensive intensity back in Orlando, and continued to make a run.

Foye exploited the Magic, and his basket gave Minnesota a 41-40 lead. Minnesota tied it at 53 on McCants' 3-ball and went ahead at intermission on another McCants basket.

Beginning a three-game trip to the Midwest, the Magic next face Allen Iverson and the Detroit Pistons -- who eliminated Orlando in the second round of the playoffs last season -- on Monday night. They then face the Bulls in Chicago on Wednesday.

The Magic finished an unusual stretch of 12 consecutive games against Western Conference teams, going 11-1, beating powers such as San Antonio and the L.A. Lakers.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 30, 2008

 

 
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