Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jameer's Assist Record Dampened by 9th Straight Defeat

The Magic are not playing bad, they just can't finish ball games without Glen Davis. The glaring problem is defense. They're now 12-22 and have lost 9 straight with Big Baby out of the lineup as the Magic fought to the bitter end and lost 125-119 to the Portland Trailblazers. It's a shame to see so much heart and effort be wasted in defeat. Jameer Nelson hit a lengthy 3-pointer to tie the game at 108-108 with 8.9 seconds remaining in regulation. Damian Lillard missed his own tough trey attempt and the game went to overtime. Orlando was exhausted in the 5-minute period and the weak jumpers were a result.

No Glen, E'Twaun, Gustavo, Al, and Hedo looked terrible once more and played just 5 minutes. JJ Redick set a new season-high with 29 points. Jameer Nelson finished with 21 points and 12 assists. 24 points were notched by Arron Afflalo. Nikola Vucevic posted another double-double, this time 17 points, 13 boards, and 5 assists. Josh McRoberts posted 12 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. Nice stat line, but again we question whether Nicholson or DeQuan should have played more. 35 of the Magic's 46 field goals were assisted, Nik and 'McBob' set new career-highs in assists, and Orlando still can't win. 

Jameer became the sole owner of the all-time franchise assist record, passing Scott Skiles at the 4:04 mark of the 1st period as his 2,777th assist of the evening was on an Andrew Nicholson jam that gave Orlando a 19-12 lead. Of course Skiles loses out on a record, and is on the same evening is no longer Milwaukee Bucks Head Coach. Terry Stotts is doing a fantastic first-year job in Portland so far. The Trail Blazers are a potential playoff team out West because of their fantastic depth and well-balanced offensive attack. The Rose Garden hosts held a 25-24 advantage after the initial 12 minutes.

JJ Redick tallied 10 points in just three minutes and nine seconds into the second period, which was necessary because the Magic found difficult scoring against the lanky and quick Portland players. Then the other Duke Blue Devil, Josh McRoberts, went into scoring mode and notched eight of his own points in the period. Thanks to 16 first half points by Arron Afflalo, and the Magic only coughing up four turnovers, Orlando headed into the locker room up 57-48. It was glorious to see confidence and enthusiasm reenter this roster as you'd expect a 14-2 run to accomplish.

Portland would erase their deficit and take a 71-70 lead at the 5-minute mark of the 3rd period because of swarming defense and astonishingly superb shooting efficiency. JJ Hickson would not be contained by Nicholson or McRoberts. Makes you wonder how Kyle O'Quinn would have done, but we'll never know. 'Redickulous' followed up an 11-point second quarter with eight points in the third period as the contest was tied 85-85. Portland scored an unbelievable 37 points in that session.

The beginning of the fourth period was a continuation of the JJ Redick Show. My goodness, what a shooting exhibition. Orlando was up 92-87 before Portland once again used their crowd to come back and tie the contest with 6:51 remaining. Coach Jacque Vaughn's gang was in another tight battle. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Matthews and Batum would hand Portland a four-point lead with 3:01 remaining as Orlando was once again stumbling to the finish line. Jameer put the team on his back and was able to extend the contest past regulation before tiring. Orlando heads to the lofty altitudes of Denver on Wednesday as Afflalo gets to re-acquaint himself with Nuggets fans. 

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