Pouring rain outside, thunder fueled a packed arena with a pre-playoff buzz. Seeking to prove a point, the Magic met Denver for the second time this season (Magic lost first meeting by 18 points). Second encounter: a new night, a new challenge, a new three-point attack, and who knows, maybe a new outcome.
As opposed to last Friday Nights snore against the Timberwolves, the Magic (and crowd) readied for more than a dress rehearsal.
Tip was controlled by the Magic, and, after several back and forth misses, the Denver Nuggets took the first lead after 95 tics of the clock. Orlando’s reaction, a quick time out and trip to the bench for Vince Carter (how was I to know he would not return?).
Down by two, the Magic’s JJ infused an additional jolt of electricity… wonder if the clouds will be waiting for me and my umbrella? With HUSTLE and HOWARD, muscle tied the score with an exclamation mark in the paint. The remainder of the first quarter a steady front as to two teams played like they did not want to leave the evening with a notch in the loss column. Must tell you, noise in the first three minutes of tonight’s game beat the noise level during last Friday’s game.
For eight minutes remainder, two superstars, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard put on a display for the world to see why such MVP recognition is reserved for the very best. With time reaching zero, Anthony lined up a 27-footer, released, and hit nothing but net as a buzzer rang through the air and giving the Nuggets a two point lead (24-22).
First quarter point of interest:
* No turnovers for the Magic, one for the Nuggets
* Howard led in the scoring department with 11, Anthony and Nene for Denver held 7 of their own
* Shooting was solid as both teams threw it up 21 times
Second quarter began with Howard as the only starter on the floor for the Magic. Within seconds, an air-ball landed ever so gently into the arms of a waiting Nugget. No looking a gift horse in the mouth (what exactly does that mean) intensity lessened but there remained plenty of hustle.
For the Magic, Ryan Anderson started the second the same way he ended Friday’s victory over the Timberwolves, effectively. Overall and thus far, these were two well-schooled and well-balanced teams. Perhaps it’s in the Magic’s favor they meet only twice during the regular season?Second quarter stand-out:
* Points in the paint: Nuggets with 14 topped by Magic’s 26 (thank you Dwight)
* High scorer: Ryan Anderson with ten
Second quarter asked who has the better bench.
Second quarter answered the Magic do.
With 24 minutes to go, neither team wanted to leave losers. A renewed intensity charged stands and athletes seconds before the third began. Given the quality both teams possess, this game is gonna come down to who wants it most. Nuggets took a quick 59 – 52 lead. Orlando’s response? Time out… surprised? Me either.
Hustle: Advantage Denver
Shooting: Advantage OrlandoWith the third ending and two teams separated by ZILCH, NADA, NOTHING, the final 12 minutes was going to be a doozy.
Third quarter wrap-up:
* Tied scores: 13 times
* Second chance points: Nuggets 5, Magic 18
* Field goal attempts: Nuggets 64 (12 three point attempts), Magic with 61 (22 three point attempts – Kelly, tonight is definitely not raining men, its raining three-pointers)
The fourth began with a standing “O” and banging backed by plenty of vocals. This was no game of pretend.
Halfway through the final quarter, Magic pulled accurate three-point shooting out of their hat to take a 91 to 85 lead. Knowing Denver to be packing Carmelo and Chauncey, feeling safe was not an option. Anthony responded with an air ball. Not too worry, Nelson, being the nice guy he is, stepped on the line, thank you very much.
After a perfect bounce pass and assist from Howard to Nelson, a sigh was heard… Magic up 93 to 86 with 4:10 to go. Taking up clock time, Howard broke free for a lay-up and smile from ear to ear. Back and forth the two volleyed until, without warning and with 103 ticks left, the Magic found themselves up by 11. The crowd, feeling comfy enough to battle outside elements, began departure.
Tonight found two quality teams battling while an umbrella awaited her life’s fulfillment. Final score 103 to 97. The Magic even the series with an impressive victory.
As for thunder and rain, I don’t care. This was a game I did not want to miss.
Sitting with pen in hand and paper longing for a story, I am…