There are plenty of times for a team with the Magic's record to be OK with the results and pack it in after falling too far behind. Certainly after a six minute drought to end the first half and then a 17-point deficit early in the third quarter.
That is not part of a winning culture.
Certainly with a young team like the one the Magic have there will be games with a scoreline and performance that leave you wondering. However a night after putting in one of those performances at home against the Grizzlies, the team responded with a performance that engenders confidence in what the Magic are eventually trying to build.
Orlando needed someone to step up and carry the team forward, finding a way to work its way back from the brink of a blowout again.
So there was Jameer Nelson leading the way in the third quarter, getting the team all the way back. Then there was Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo leading the way down the stretch. A 17-5 run to end the game and a 30-point third and fourth quarter proved that the Magic are not going to roll over and die as this season winds down. There is still a lot of pride.
And the Magic have a lot to be proud of in wrapping up a 105-102 win over the Hornets at New Orleans Arena on Monday.
A night after getting blown out, the Magic had the answer and the will to score a victory.
Jameer Nelson scored 13 of his 15 points in the third quarter to help the Magic fight back from a 17-point deficit. Arron Afflalo scored 26 points in the game and closed it off with a go-ahead turnaround jumper with about 30 seconds left. And it was Al Harrington providing a big boost off the bench on both ends of the floor in a 10-point, 5-rebound effort.
The poise for the Magic in closing this game out was something that seemed to come out of nowhere. Orlando had gone through so many games this season and even recently where hte team was unable to execute with the chips down. It was just Friday that Arron Afflalo committed three fourth quarter turnovers as the Magic saw a lead slip away against the Rockets.
In New Orleans on Monday however, it was Afflalo leading the charge and doing so with the same kind of shots he sometimes get criticized for. The thing is, Afflalo is likely the best player on the floor for the Magic at drawing fouls and creating his own shot. And so the games when he does it, are as much about him developing his ability as every other game is about developing the young talent on this roster.
Afflalo, after all, was excited about coming to Orlando just for opportunities like the one he had at the end of this game.
Winning still matters to many players on this roster. That is a feeling that will get deep into the culture of this franchise.
Orlando was far behind in this game and needed every bit of the grit and desire the team had to come back even against New Orleans.
The Magic were humming along, playing solid defense and making shots, for much of the first half. Except for giving up a few too many offensive rebounds and struggling to handle the size of Anthony Davis for much of the first half. The Magic were able to move the ball and cut into the paint to get some shots at the rim and set up the mid-range game the Magic sometimes fall too in love with.
Orlando took a 36-31 lead with about six minutes to play in the second quarter. Then a 15-0 run to end the half put the Magic in a deepening hole.
During that stretch the Magic were settling for jumpers and the lack of confidence on the offensive end affected their focus on the defensive end. They needed someone to carry them and create offensive opportunities.
Someone needed to step up.
Jameer Nelson became that player in the third quarter. He found confidence in his jumper and aggressively drove to the basket. After falling behind by 17, the light switch seemed to be on. The Magic were here to play. The Hornets were not going to be another blowout victor over the Magic.
It is this pride and this desire to fight and get a win that that is important the rest of this season. After a gut-wrenching and disappointing home loss, the Magic responded with that effort and desire. Orlando still has something to fight for.