Through two quarters of Wednesday's game, the Orlando Magic looked as though they had a chance to snap their 10-game losing streak, as they held a two-point advantage over the Los Angeles Clippers. But L.A. used a 24-13 third quarter to take control of the game and prevailed by an 85-76 final score as Eric Bledsoe scored a career-best 27 points.
Jameer Nelson scored 18 of the Magic's 42 first-half points and shot 6-of-11 from the floor; he was the lone Orlando player capable of producing offense, as none of his teammates had more than six points in the first half.
But Nelson misfired on all five of his shot attempts after halftime and went scoreless, though he still managed to lead the team in points anyway. Magic coach Jacque Vaughn credited his counterpart, Vinny Del Negro, for changing his coverage of Nelson.
"They saw his aggressiveness in the first half and Vinny [did] a good job of blitzing his pick-and-rolls," Vaughn said, "trying to get the ball out of his hands and kind of denying--even when we put him at the two [shooting guard] to kind of get him off the ball a little bit--they jumped pin-downs and also aggressively double-teamed him."
Orlando indeed played Nelson off the ball with Ish Smith at point guard for eight second-half minutes, according to NBA.com's stats tool. That shift didn't help Nelson's individual offense, and his teammates were unable to punish L.A. for focusing on him.
O'Quinn eager to contribute
Rookie center Kyle O'Quinn has worked his way into Vaughn's rotation, having played in each of Orlando's last seven games. In that span, the Norfolk State product is averaging six points and 3.6 rebounds in just 10.3 minutes.
Wednesday, O'Quinn set career-highs with nine rebounds and 18 minutes played, and he reached double-figure scoring for the second time of his career.
"He's telling Coach that he wants to play some more," Vaughn said, "and that's a great sign." The coach praised O'Quinn for his "aggressiveness" and for "being assertive."
"That's a good step forward for him," said Vaughn.
Only nine Orlando players were available Wednesday. Glen Davis and Al Harrington were out, as expected. J.J. Redick, Arron Afflalo, and DeQuan Jones also missed the game with nagging injuries. The team said Hedo Türkoğlu was suffering from flu-like symptoms, so he didn't play either.
Celebrating Black History Month
The Magic announced Wednesday several events to commemorate Black History Month. The first of these took place at halftime of Wednesday's game as The Distinguished Men of Brass performed. The Distinguished Men of Brass are a marching band who may be familiar to audiences from their appearances on America's Got Talent in 2012. Every member wore a suit, tie, white gloves, spats, and a fedora for the show, which included a rousing rendition of Beyoncé's 2003 hit "Crazy in Love."
Former Magic guard Jason Williams sat along the left baseline on the near side of the floor. He received a warm ovation from the crowd when the in-arena videoboard showed him midway through the third quarter.
Former Florida Gators football stars Mike Pouncey and Maurkice Pouncey, currently of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Miami Dolphins, respectively, attended Wednesday's game. The twin brothers sat courtside.
Retired baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. was also spotted at Amway Center.