After a disappointing three-game home stand to conclude 2014 and begin 2015, the Orlando Magic embarked on their second West coast road trip, this time a four game trip starting in Denver against the Nuggets. Despite struggling for much of the night, the Magic made it a game late, missing a shot at the buzzer that would've sent it to overtime, falling 93-90.
The start of the game was rough for both sides. Neither were able to find any rhythm on the offensive end, with shots coming up short seemingly every trip for the first three and a half minutes. Had it not been for Victor Oladipo attacking the basket and getting a few shots to fall, the Magic could've been looking at one of their worst quarters of the season. Nikola Vucevic got banged up early, and missed most of the quarter because of foul trouble. Ty Lawson got off to a scorching start, knocking down 5-of-6 from the field en route to 12 first quarter points. Evan Fournier and Kyle O`Quinn led the Magic with five apiece after 12 minutes.
Following a sluggish first quarter, the Magic began to find a little bit of energy in the second quarter. With his big men struggling, coach Jacque Vaughn tuned to Andrew Nicholson, who came in and gave the team five points and two rebounds in eight minutes of action, gave the team some energy that they desperately needed. Oladipo continued to look for his own offense, aggressively attacking the rim time-after-time en route to a team high 12 at the half. Denver's sluggish play continued, with the hosts shooting a dreadful 5-of-20 in the quarter. Lawson's 12 continued to lead with way for the Nuggets after 24 minutes.
Out of halftime, the two continued to play some sluggish basketball. However, the Nuggets were able to find their groove a little bit easier than the Magic, going on an 11-0 run at one point in the quarter to grab a 10 point lead. Orlando's offense was still stagnant, struggling to find good looks on many trips, while continuing to struggle with turnovers, coughing it up four times in the quarter. Denver's starting backcourt of Lawson and Arron Afflalo scored 12 points in the quarter, getting what they wanted seemingly at will in the quarter. Lawson's 18 led all scorers, while Oladipo's 14 led the way for the Magic.
With the game within reach, the Magic needed to dig deep and find some energy in the fourth quarter. They were unable to, however, as the Nuggets controlled the game for much of the fourth. Their lead reached as many as 10 multiple times, and with the Magic's offensive struggles, it seemed as though the Nuggets would cruise to a victory. However, the Magic stayed resilient, putting pressure on the hosts late thanks to a string of three pointers from Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson. The Magic had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Fournier's attempt at the buzzer came up short.
Denver was led by Lawson, who finished with a game high 23. Former Magic man Afflalo finished with 17 points and six rebounds. Reserve guard Nate Robinson finished with 13, including 10 free throws. Wilson Chandler finished his night with 12, with J.J. Hickson notching an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Five Magic men finished in double figures, led by Nikola Vucevic's 20-point, 11-rebound performance. Oladipo's strong start ended up with him notching 17 points and six assists. Evan Fournier scored 14 against his old team, with Harris finishing with 12 on the night. Andrew Nicholson finished with 11, including three big three-pointers.