Page last updated on Sat Sep 20 03:55:28 EDT 2014
11/03/2012 1:30 AM EDT
Davis scores 29, Magic hold off Nuggets 102-89
ORLANDO 102, DENVER 89
By KYLE HIGHTOWER
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The kind of team the Orlando Magic
eventually wind up becoming this season is a long way from being
But after a summer of massive changes from top to bottom, for
one night at least, all the uncertainty about the franchise's
long-term future was an afterthought.
On this night, the Magic were plenty happy with what they have.
Buoyed by Glen Davis' 29 points and 10 rebounds, and J.J.
Redick's 21 points off the bench, the Magic sprinted out to an
early lead and held off the Denver Nuggets 102-89 Friday night.
Danilo Gallinari led the Nuggets with 23 points, with Ty Lawson
chipping in 12. But Denver struggled offensively for the second
straight game, unable to dig out of a 20-point first-half hole.
"Amazing, to get our first win in this fashion," said Magic
guard Arron Afflalo, who was traded to Orlando this summer as
part of the Dwight Howard multi-team deal and finished with
seven points against his former team. "Obviously Glen and J.J.
stepped up, but it was just a real inspired team effort today."
Afterwards, the team presented first-year coach Jacque Vaughn
with the game ball to commemorate his first regular-season NBA
Friday marked the Magic's season-opener and first one in eight
seasons without Howard, who was traded this summer to Los
"It's exciting man, there's been a lot of change around here,"
Afflalo said. "The expectations haven't been too high, so for us
to get off to this type of start is a good feeling and we're
gonna continue to take it one game at a time."
Vaughn thanked his team in the locker room before the game for
working so hard to this point.
They responded with a coach he said made him "extremely proud."
"It was a good feeling," Vaughn said. "That's the progressive
process that we're talking about, that it goes both ways. I'll
give and tonight they gave as well."
Orlando did suffer a setback, though, with starting forward Hedo
Turkoglu leaving the game in the third with a broken left hand.
Vaughn said he would be evaluated again Saturday.
The Nuggets dropped to 0-2 on their season-opening three-game
road trip. Much like its opening loss at Philadelphia earlier
this week, Denver struggled shooting the ball and was stymied by
an early deficit.
"The first half we weren't very good at either end of the
court," Denver coach George Karl said. "In Philly, we didn't
make shots, but we played great defense and stayed in the game
because of that. The second half I thought we played with a lot
of energy, and then you get down 20 points, that energy runs out
of gas a little bit."
Denver trimmed a 21-point first-half Magic lead to eight points
late in the third quarter, but struggled in the fourth as their
offensive sets stalled and the Magic were able to get some easy
shots on their end.
Gallinari was also the only Denver player to consistently make
it to the free-throw line, as Orlando's defense was able to
contain the usually active Andre Iguodala, who was held to nine
points on 3 of 10 shooting.
"This is just the beginning and we have some new guys on the
team and the guys who were injured last year are now trying to
get back in shape," Gallinari said. "We didn't do a good job,
but I am sure tomorrow we are going to do better."
Meanwhile, Orlando has stretches of offensive crispness both in
transition and in the half-court, outscoring Denver 60-36 in the
"I want to let everyone know I'm here," Davis said. "I'm here to
seize the moment. I'm here to step in the gaps. It was a good
Injuries were a problem in the preseason with several Magic
players missing part or the entire exhibition schedule with
Turkoglu's injury means Vaughn will have to get creative to fill
his slot in the starting lineup, with no true small forward
healthy enough to immediately fill-in.
Rookie Maurice Harkless, who was acquired in the Howard deal,
would seem to be the obvious candidate. But Vaughn said that he
only recently was cleared for full-contact practice following
sports hernia surgery and will need a few before he's ready for
game action. He is currently day-to-day.
Afflalo, at 6-foot-5, is also an option and said he's willing to
step into that role if needed.
"That's my brother from another mother, man," said point guard
Jameer Nelson. "I've been with Turk so long. It's upsetting to
see that. He'll be all right. He's a trooper and we'll pick him
Orlando led 58-37 at the break, sparked by Davis and Redick, who
each had 15 first-half points.
Despite a roster dealing with several early-season injuries,
Vaughn substituted liberally in the early going, playing nine
The fresh legs helped the flow of the offense, with the Magic
moving the ball well and getting assists on 16 of their 24 field
goals for the half.
The Nuggets, who scored just 38 first-half points in their
season-opener, managed only 37 in the opening 24 minutes on
Nelson said Friday's start was exactly what the Magic needed
"We're in this together," he said.
Notes: North Carolina coach Roy Williams sat courtside Friday to
support Vaughn, who is the first former Williams' player to
become an NBA head coach. Vaughn played for Williams in college
at Kansas. ...Orlando opened the season without backup big man
Gustavo Ayon (sprained left thumb), swingman DeQuan Jones
(strained hip muscle) and F Al Harrington (knee). ... Karl said
C Timofey Mozgov (left knee strain) ran during shoot around on
Friday, and could be ready for their home opener Tuesday against
Detroit...The Magic improved to 15-9 all-time in season openers.
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