Magic can’t slow Danilo Gallinari in home loss to Nuggets
Denver Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson (7) shoots over Orlando Magic players forward Aaron Gordon (00), guard Ben Gordon (7), forward Kyle O'Quinn (2) Orlando Magic guard Luke Ridnour (13) during the first half.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Danilo Gallinari made the best night of his career sound as easy as a day in the Florida sun.
"It was one of those nights when the basket looks like a swimming pool. It’s pretty big up there," Gallinari said after scoring a career-high 40 points Sunday in the Denver Nuggets’ 119-100 victory over the Orlando Magic.
Gallinari, former Magic guard Jameer Nelson and the rest of the Nuggets’ bench produced a 41-point second quarter that blew the Magic out of the game.
It was Denver’s first victory in an Eastern Conference city since Nov. 17.
"We lacked the urgency, competitiveness to play. I don’t think we respected that group enough," said Magic coach James Borrego. "We just did not get it done defensively."
Nelson came off the bench to ignite a 10-minute rally that pulled the Nuggets from five points behind to 26 points ahead.
Gallinari made 12 of 21 shots, including 6 of 13 from 3-point range.
"That was the biggest thing for me tonight as an individual, just watching him get 40 points," Nelson said. "He’s been hot shooting the ball and he’s one of our main scorers."
With five other players joining him in double figures, the Nuggets broke a three-game losing streak in the final game of a five-game road trip.
Nelson, who played only 16 minutes, finished with 15 points and five assists.
The Magic led 25-20 when Nelson scored his first points on a 3-pointer with 1:20 left in the first quarter. That ignited a 43-12 run in which Nelson scored 13 points.
The Nuggets emptied the bench and scored just 17 in the fourth quarter, coming three points short of their season high for a game.
Victor Oladipo led the Magic with 21 points and Nik Vucevic scored 20.
Magic guard Elfrid Payton, who on Friday night became the first NBA rookie in 18 years to record two straight triple-doubles, finished with six points, eight rebounds, eight assists and five turnovers.
The Nuggets broke an 11-game losing streak against Eastern Conference opponents on the road. Their last win in the East had been at Cleveland on Nov. 17.
Nuggets: Nelson, who played 651 games for the Magic and is the franchise leader with 3,501 assists, played for a third different team in Orlando this season — Dallas during the preseason and Boston on Dec. 23. … Gallinari’s previous scoring high for the season was 26. For his career it was 39. … Denver’s biggest lead was 33, at 102-69 late in the third quarter.
Magic: Andrew Nicholson made his first start of the season for Orlando, replacing Channing Frye, who is ill. … It was the first game of the NBA season between two interim coaches, Borrego and the Nuggets’ Melvin Hunt.