Nuggets 101, Magic 74
JaVale McGee’s rim-rattling, backboard-shaking dunks left the
crowd roaring, his teammates applauding and the opposition
They weren’t just for show, however.
McGee scored 17 points, throwing down a half-dozen dunks in the
second half, and the Denver Nuggets pulled away to beat the Orlando
Magic 101-74 on Sunday night.
It was the sixth win in eight games for the surging Nuggets, who
clinched their ninth consecutive trip to the playoffs the night
before with a win at Phoenix.
”I feel like we’re getting better every game and we’re becoming
a solid team to where we can play people who don’t play so we can
give our people a rest for the next game,” said McGee, who came
off the bench to become the 10th different Nuggets player to lead
or share the team lead in scoring.
Danilo Gallinari also scored 17, Arron Afflalo had 15 and Ty
Lawson 13 for the Nuggets, who swept the two-game season series
with Orlando, avoiding the Magic’s injured Dwight Howard both
”We didn’t do our defensive assignments,” the Magic’s Jason
Richardson said after Orlando was beaten repeatedly on lob passes
inside to McGee and Denver’s other big men. ”We didn’t have
energy. We didn’t do anything how we’ve been playing the past five
or six games.”
Ryan Anderson scored 24 points for the Magic, who lost their
third straight. Glen Davis added 14 points for playoff-bound
Orlando, which also lost guard Jameer Nelson to a calf injury. He
left the game in the first quarter and did not return.
Howard, who missed Orlando’s April 1 loss to Denver because of
back spasms, is out for the rest of the season after undergoing
surgery last week to repair a herniated disk in his lower back.
Breaking away from a halftime tie, the Nuggets had a 67-58
advantage when Andre Miller capped a 6-0 burst with a 17-foot
jumper with 2:30 left in the third.
Denver took a 73-62 lead into the fourth quarter – its biggest
lead to that point – after consecutive dunks in the last minute of
the third by McGee off alley-oop passes from Miller.
Orlando fought back within 75-69 on Ish Smith’s driving layup
with 9:22 left, but the Nuggets got their inside game going again.
Kenneth Faried and McGee took turns muscling in dunks to go up
79-69 with 8:17 remaining.
”Some of those dunks were pretty important,” Nuggets coach
George Karl said. ”The game was not over when he made a couple of
those dunks against the zone.”
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy was fuming over the lackluster
defensive play inside by the Magic, dismissing the possibility of
fatigue because of a back-to-back set.
”I don’t think it had anything to do with running out of gas,”
Van Gundy said. ”Four times a guy’s going to start up to set a
pick and back cut for a lob? It’s absurd. We ran out of focus, we
ran out of competitiveness. That’s what we ran out of.”
McGee jammed home a couple more dunks as the Nuggets moved to a
93-74 lead with 3:10 left to play. Orlando was held to 30
second-half points, 12 in the final quarter.
”It was a lot of fun,” said McGee, who also had eight rebounds
and three blocked shots. ”We passed the ball and we were playing
great defense. Things were just getting open for us.”
Lawson’s driving layup with 50 seconds left in the second
quarter forged a 44-all tie at halftime. Denver was leading 24-19
after the first period, but Orlando put together a 12-2 run to go
in front 35-31. Anderson hit two 3-pointers during the surge.
NOTES: Nuggets forward Al Harrington, one of the league’s top
sixth men who has been playing through a torn meniscus in his right
knee, was given the night off. It’s the first time he’s missed a
game this season. Karl said in a pregame news conference that
Harrington probably will play in only one of the team’s two
remaining regular-season games to try to get him in the best
possible shape for the playoffs. … The Magic, who lost in
overtime at Utah on Saturday, were 18-18 in back-to-back sets this
season. … Miller finished with 11 assists. … The season series
sweep of Orlando by the Nuggets was Denver’s first since the
1991-92 season. … The Magic’s point total represented a season
low by a Nuggets’ opponent.