Al Harrington and Lance Thomas - Tyler Kaufman - USA Today Sports
Jameer Nelson was back in the starting lineup for the Magic, and helped lead the Orlando comeback from a 17-point deficit in the second half.
The Orlando Magic, coming off an abysmal 26-point home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, looked to be dead in the water after a listless first-half performance against the New Orleans Hornets on Monday. They scored just 36 points on 36 percent shooting and went scoreless for the final 6:26 of the half. The Magic then came out and played arguably their best second half of the season, scoring 69 points on 62 percent shooting, and committing only three turnovers, in their stunning come-from-behind 105-102 victory over the Hornets.
New Orleans looked to be in control of the game following back-to-back threes by Greivis Vasquez and former Magic big man Ryan Anderson, which gave them a 97-88 lead with 3:30 remaining. The Magic then went on a 11-1 run over the next two minutes, capped by a three-pointer by Al Harrington with 1:20 remaining to give the Magic their first lead of the second half, 99-98. A Vasquez layup briefly gave the Hornets a 100-99 lead, but Arron Afflalo hit a jumper and three free throws to give the Magic a 104-102 lead with 12 seconds remaining. An offensive rebound by Tobias Harris after an Afflalo missed free throw was huge, as Harris made one of two free throws with 10.6 seconds left to up the Magic lead to 105-102. A Vasquez three-point attempt to tie the game with 1.6 seconds left missed, with Harrington grabbing the rebound to seal the deal for Orlando.
Five Magic players scored in double figures, led by Afflalo, who scored 11 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter. Harrington scored eight of his ten points in the final quarter. Jameer Nelson scored 15 points, all in the second half, in his return from missing six games with a knee contusion. Maurice Harkless scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, and Harris led the reserves with 15 points.
Orlando seemed determined to play more competitive basketball in the first half, since in the previous three games the Magic had been outscored by a combined 51 points by halftime. Orlando trailed only 23-20 after the opening quarter, despite shooting just 35%.
In the second quarter, the Magic went on a 14-4 run, with Afflalo scoring seven points and Harris five points during the run, to give Orlando its largest lead of the game at 36-31. The Magic would not score again in the half though, as they went stone cold, missing their final eight shots of the half while being outscored by New Orleans 15-0 as the Hornets took a 46-36 lead into intermission. The Hornets' guard combo of Gordon (12 points) and Vasquez (8 points) combined for 20 points, while Harris scored 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting to lead the Magic at the half. Nelson struggled in the opening half, going scoreless on 0 for 4 shooting.
New Orleans built on their lead in the opening four minutes of the third quarter, as back-to-back 3s by Anderson and Gordon gave the Hornets their largest lead of the game at 61-44 at the 8:02 mark of the third. Orlando then stunned New Orleans, going on a 22-5 run in 5 1/2 minutes to tie the game at 66. Nelson came to life during this run, scoring 11 points, including two 3-pointers and two driving layups. An Anderson layup regained the lead for the Hornets, and they led 76-70 going into the final quarter. Orlando scored 34 third-quarter points on 62.5% shooting. Nelson scored 13 points, and Moe Harkless added nine points in the quarter.
The Hornets would hold on to a slim lead through the first six minutes of the final quarter, as the Magic would keep their deficit to between two and five points during this time. Orlando trailed 89-86 after an Afflalo turnaround shot with 5:22 remaining. Anderson then burned his ex-mates, scoring seven points, including a triple, in the next two minutes as the Hornets built their lead to 97-88 with 3:30 remaining before the Magic's thrilling comeback.
Orlando will try for its first winning streak since December as they take on the red-hot Heat in Miami Wednesday evening.