Coach Vaughn on his Magic men tonight: "On any given possession you don't know who is going to have the ball, who is going to shoot it, and that's okay with us."
Arron Afflalo was the only healthy former Nugget from last season available to play tonight, so Arron had a little extra attention on him. Afflalo's first official Magic game saw Arron fight through a rough shooting night and manage 7 points and 6 rebounds. Al Harrington will hopefully recover from his knee surgery by the end of November. Speaking of health, or lack thereof, Hedo Turkoglu broke his left hand in the 3rd quarter. It's a crushing veteran blow as 'Turkey Dance' will be further reevaluated in the coming days. In 17 minutes, Turkoglu posted 6 points and 2 steals on an uncharacteristically efficient 3-of-4 shooting. Turkoglu was active on defense and moved wonderfully off the ball. I'm no doctor, but you'd imagine Hedo is out a few weeks at minimum.
More Coach Vaughn: "Everyone that stepped into the game contributed, and that's fun basketball."
Glen Davis about the low-win predictions: "Opinions are like buttholes. Everyone has one. Some of them stink."
The entire evening was a masterful display of Jacque Vaughn fabulously sprinkling in a starter or two with the bench unit. Inevitably, Denver made a run to begin the 3rd period. Hedo being out and Jameer constantly re-aggravating a left leg/quad injury during the contest gave the Nuggets a bit of hope. Nelson still more than held his own against the newly extended Ty Lawson. 'Mighty Mite' finished with 9 points and 7 assists. Nik Vucevic receive two completely undeserved fouls that were truly blocks on Danilo Gallinari and found himself in foul trouble. Call it the Dick Bavetta effect. However, Nik's foul woes did give Andrew Nicholson his chance to debut. Danilo's flailing and faking earned him way to many undeserved free throw attempts. Despite George Karl's squad fighting back, Orlando took a 78-68 cushion into the final period. The Redick-Baby pick-and-roll seems to be a Vaughn playbook favorite.
J.J. Redick reflecting on tonight: "It was nice to just play basketball and have the game plan be the focus."
The 4th quarter found the Magic putting Denver on the fence with amped up energy and intensity. The casual O-Town fan didn't know who E'Twaun Moore was coming into the evening. Well that changed with some fancy dribbling and precision shooting. Next thing you know, Moore makes Ish sweat with a 13-point, 5-rebound, and 3-assist effort by the former Boston Celtic. An offensive rebound and immediate score helps too. Andrew Nicholson's first career points came during this stretch off his own offensive board and putback. Andrew learned a lot defending Gallinari, Faried, McGee, and swatting Koufos. Somewhere around the 6-minute mark when McRoberts threw down a phenomenal alley oop from Jameer, and when Afflalo sped past 4 Nuggets to put the Magic up 95-77 that Denver looked completely winded and tired. Orlando had run Karl's team into the ground. Vaughn's continuous substitutions paid off and the Nuggets players were frantically seeking oxygen tanks. The Heat should thank us, as they get an exhausted Nuggets squad on Saturday. This Magic victory felt amazing for the players and even Coach Vaughn who graciously waved to George Karl as they exited the parquet floor. Jameer congratulated Jacque in the locker room by awarding the Head Coach with the locker room after the win. It's tough not to overreact after just one win, but man was that a magnificent 1-0 beginning. Savor it, Magic fans. Orlando takes on Phoenix Sunday evening at 6 p.m. I'm sure there are a lot of tickets available at the Amway Center ticket office. If you have the time and the wallet size, go check these guys out.