Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY
It was announced shortly before tip off that Arron Afflalo would not play with a foot injury suffered in the third quarter Friday night against Sacramento. Nikola Vucevic was already home after suffering a concussion last Monday against the Clippers. Then Jameer Nelson aggravated a sprained finger in the third quarter against the Nuggets on Saturday. It was not fractured, X-rays revealed, but the Magic have to be wondering what else can go wrong.
Injuries. Missed shots. Bad offense. Worse defense. Getting out-efforted.
Going down the list only seems to make things worse. The Magic’s margin for error, already small, seems to get smaller as these mistakes pile on. And now the losses are piling on in embarrassing fashion.
The Nuggets simply dominated the Magic. They beat Orlando to the glass, to the rim, to the loose ball. They generally outworked and outplayed the Magic throughout the game — even when it was out of reach. The Nuggets kept pressing and attacking even with a 30-point lead.
Orlando was left licking its wounds following a 120-94 loss at Pepsi Center on Saturday.
The team might also be left with the question: What else can go wrong? Fans are certainly asking that question.
The Magic shot 44 percent from the floor and an icy 4 for 20 from beyond the arc. They gave up 69 points in the first half, negating the decently high 47 points they scored. That was a bit of mirage though because of the quick pace the Nuggets played out.
Kenneth Faried was bouncing all around the place getting offensive rebounds and scoring points or blocking shots, or at least changing them. J.J. Hickson also provided energy in the post and some rim protection, deterring the Magic from going to the rim.
Really, Denver just hit Orlando in the mouth early and the team was cooked early. The confidence was shot. It recovered some, but the defense was not coming back any time soon. The Nuggets got whatever they wanted offensively. They drove into the lane and found the open man. And if he wasn’t open, the next pass often was.
Orlando was slow to rotate.
It took more than a few punches for the Magic to wake up. And even that did not seem enough.
Eventually the Magic put up some decent statistics. Glen Davis scored 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Tobias Harris had 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting, being thrust into a more prominent role with Afflalo out of the lineup. Jameer Nelson had 10 points and seven assists before he exited the game with his finger injury. Victor Oladipo had 15 points and five assists.
Nelson and Oladipo’s 12 assists were the majority of the team’s 23 assists. Orlando was simply not moving the ball when things mattered. It was a lot of isolation basketball. And then it was a lot of isolations and the same offensive issues that have held the Magic back.
The Nuggets feasted on that lack of mobility, turning the long misses into solid offensive opportunities. This was a team in sync and with an identity.
They probably feel like they are at the bottom of an avalanche of bad luck and bad timing. They just need something to go right.