Nuggets collapse in Florida and suffer shock loss to the Magic.
By Euan Sangster
Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets suffered a tough loss last night against a struggling Orlando Magic team who picked up their fifth win of the season taking them to 5-18. The Nuggets have now fallen back below .500 and continue to lack consistency in their performances with a record of now 10-11.
The Nuggets got off to a great start, leading the Magic 15-4 in the first six minutes, yet they could not capitalize on a poor start from Orlando as the Nuggets also had shooting troubles to begin the game but still managed to pull a 14-point gap on the team from Florida, ending the first quarter of action 29-15 up.
The second quarter was a much better showing from both teams as both sides managed to score 32+ points, with the Orlando bench being a big part into the fightback. Meanwhile, as Jokic and the other starters for the Nuggets checked back into the game, the lead was restored, and the Nuggets went into the half time interval 63-47 up.
During the third quarter, it was evident what the Magic’s game plan was as they continued to attack the paint through Wendell Carter Jr and ex-Nugget Gary Harris. The Magic had 40 points in the paint just three minutes into the 3rd quarter and this proved to be a big issue for the Nuggets who began the collapse by getting outscored by 12 in the quarter, resulting into the lead being cut down to just 4 points, with all momentum on Orlando’s side going into the final 12 minutes.
Michael Malone made a bold choice in continuing to play the bench unit at the beginning of the 4th quarter, and this proved to be costly as the Magic carried over their momentum from the previous quarter and managed to get the lead down to just 1 point with eight minutes to play, forcing the Nuggets coach to bring the starters back onto the floor. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, the starters were unable to get a grasp of the game and this then saw the Magic be 3 points up in the last few minutes. Denver managed to hang around in the last few minutes but a missed shot from Will Barton with two seconds remaining meant that Orlando came away with the win, completing an 18 point comeback.
After the game, Aaron Gordon of the Nuggets, said “This one hurts.” The 6 foot 8 wing would have had an added incentive to beat his former team, but he also added “We got complacent” when being asked about the second half collapse.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone summed up the game perfectly from a Nuggets perspective, as when asked what went wrong defensively during this game, he said “Everything under the sun.”
The Nuggets will now prepare to take a trip to New York on Saturday to continue their 9 game road trip, with now every game becoming more and more important if they hope to solidify a playoff place later on in the season.