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Nuggets 120, Magic 94: Denver dominates as Orlando's losing streak reaches seven

Orlando's woes continued Saturday as the Nuggets dominated it from tip to horn.

Maurice Harkless, Evan Fournier, Glen Davis, and E'Twaun Moore
Maurice Harkless, Evan Fournier, Glen Davis, and E'Twaun Moore
Isaiah J. Downing - USA Today Sports

The Denver Nuggets routed the shorthanded Orlando Magic on Saturday, 120-94, sending Orlando to its seventh consecutive defeat, its longest slide of the season.

Randy Foye and Evan Fournier co-led seven Nuggets in double-figure scoring with 18 points. Quincy Miller and J.J. Hickson each logged double-doubles, with Kenneth Faried and Timofey Mozgov each coming up just one rebound shy, as Denver dominated the interior.

Tobias Harris scored 22 with nine boards and four assists, while Glen Davis added 20 points and six rebounds for the Magic. Victor Oladipo posted an efficient 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the floor.

Orlando didn't have Arron Afflalo or Nik Vučević for Saturday's game. Those players lead the Magic in scoring and rebounding, respectively, but it's possible that neither would have improved the Magic's chances very much against a hot, unselfish Denver team.

Making matters worse for the Magic, starting point guard Jameer Nelson left the game with 3:53 to play in the third quarter after suffering an injury to his right, and dominant, hand.

Denver owns one of the league's hottest offenses, and it didn't slow down against the Magic's defense: the home team posted 34 points in the first quarter on 62.5 percent effective field-goal shooting, with just three turnovers. Four different players scored either six or seven points in the quarter, and the team tallied 10 assists on 13 shots. All those facts suggest a team that moved the ball and its personnel wherever it wanted and needed to, which is precisely what happened: the Magic couldn't take any of Denver's options away. Transition defense was a particular concern: on two occasions in the first half, the Magic didn't account for trailing three-point shooters on Denver breaks, leading to wide-open trey conversions.

The Magic scored 25 themselves in the opening quarter, due in part to the Nuggets' pace but also because they managed to create good looks. Denver isn't an outstanding defensive team and can be soft in the middle, something Orlando exploited with its dribble penetration as it shot 47.8 percent in the first quarter.

Denver took command in the second quarter thanks to its exceptional depth: the Nuggets' reserves outscored the Magic's, 15-3, on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor. With the Magic's starters needing some rest on the second night of a back-to-back, and with two starters out due to injury, and without much productivity from its healthy reserves, Orlando fell behind by as much as 26 points. Faried stripped Oladipo near midcourt and took the ball the other way for a jam to provide that margin, but Oladipo answered by driving right at Denver's energetic big man and lofted a layup in around him, plus the foul.

Moments later, Nelson rebounded a missed Miller shot and pushed ahead, ultimately finding Harris with an around-the-back pass for a layup to cut the Nuggets' lead to 19 points. Denver would lead at halftime by 22 after Foye converted a free throw for a technical called against Nelson for spiking the ball in frustration.

Davis led the Magic out of halftime by making Orlando's first three shots of the second half and each of his first four attempts individually. The fourth of his conversions brought the Magic to within 16 points and offered hope that they could get back into the game if they continued to execute and started to get defensive stops.

Foye answered with a long two on Denver's next possession, and followed that basket up with a trey, pushing to 21 points. After Faried boarded Denver's next miss, he found Ty Lawson behind the arc for the All-Star candidate's fourth three-pointer of the night. It was more of the same for Orlando, in other words: just no way to account for all of the Nuggets' offensive weapons.

A five-point play by Fournier--he made a shot on which he was fouled, missed the free throw, and drilled a three-pointer after a Denver offensive rebound--less than two minutes into the fourth quarter pushed the Nuggets' lead to 35 points. The Magic, playing without Nelson after he left in the third quarter with a hand injury, didn't make a field goal until the 8:50 mark when Kyle O'Quinn rifled in a 17-footer from the right baseline.

Denver would lead by as much as 36 points in the fourth quarter, lending little drama to the proceedings. Two key questions: would the Nuggets manage to cross the 110-point mark and thus reward all fans in attendance with 25-cent Taco Bell tacos on Sunday? And would Doron Lamb challenge Darrell Armstrong's franchise record for field-goal attempts without a make in a single game?

The answers were yes and no, respectively: A layup by Mozgov put Denver over the taco threshold with 4:52 to go. On the ensuing Orlando possession, Lamb drilled a three from the right corner, his first basket of the night after missing his first eight attempts.