Magic Musings: Orlando can’t hold lead again in loss to Nuggets

ORLANDO, Fla. — For the second time in as many games, the Orlando Magic squandered a double-digit second-quarter lead against a team that, like them, is not heading to the playoffs.

The Denver Nuggets, like the Milwaukee Bucks before them, recovered from a slow start and came away with a victory. Shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and dominating the Magic on the boards, the Nuggets held off a late charge to defeat the Magic 120-112.

Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo led a fourth-quarter comeback where the Magic cut what was as much as a 15-point deficit to five points twice. Afflalo’s two free throws with 1:26 remaining made it a 115-110 game, but the Magic would get no closer than that.

The Magic had lost Monday night at Milwaukee after blowing an 18-point lead. This time, the Nuggets trailed by 13 in the second quarter but rallied to take a 52-50 halftime lead.

Afflalo topped the Magic with 24 points. Nikola Vucevic had 20 points and 16 rebounds, while Nelson finished with 19 points.

Box score

But the Magic were outscored 54-40 in the paint, with the Nuggets owning a 32-16 advantage in that department in the second half. They also went 8 of 15 from 3-point range over the final two quarters.

At 28-36, the Nuggets have a better record than the New York Knicks. The Magic will receive the worst first-round pick of Denver’s and New York’s spots this spring in the draft lottery.

THE TURNING POINT

The Nuggets went on a 16-4 run that included a four-point play by Wilson Chandler during a five-minute stretch of the third quarter, giving them their first double-digit lead of the game.

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THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, who scored a career-high 32 points less than a week ago, finished with 26.

STAT OF THE GAME

The Magic were outrebounded 52-38 and are now 0-31 this season when the opposing team has more rebounds than them.

WHAT’S NEXT

Friday night vs. Washington, 7 p.m. (FOX Sports Florida).

You can follow Ken Hornack on Twitter @HornackFSFla or email him at khornack32176@gmail.com.