Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY
The Magic were not going to go down without a fight. A double-digit deficit was eaten into and the Magic had a chance to win.
The road was blocked. Quite literally. Every turn Orlando took seemed to lead right into Anthony Davis' gigantic, outstretched arms. It was his seven blocked shots which kept the Magic from gainign much offensive fluidity for much of the game. It was his two thunderous dunks which emphatically shut the door on this game.
Davis took a lob and threw down a two-handed jam on one possession for a six-point lead. Then he took the ball and flew over Glen Davis for a monstrous dunk that made the Pelicans' lead an eight-point one. That was the exclamation point on a 22-point, 19-rebound, seven-block performance for New Orleans in a 100-92 win over Orlando at New Orleans Arena on Sunday night.
Davis was a true defensive presence for the Pelicans throughout the evening. He constantly changed Magic shots and kept them out of the paint. He was even affecting perimeter shots, blocking two 3-pointers in the first quarter too.
Orlando did its best to grind and keep things close. But the second unit struggled and the Pelicans opened up a 16-point deficit. It took a momentous effort to bring Orlando back in the game.
That effort included a healthy diet of Arron Afflalo running off screens and posting up whoever was guarding him. He had 25 points on 9-for-14 shooting. Orlando's ball movement was pretty solid for much of the night when the team was not turning the ball over or looking too hard for Anthony Davis for a blocked shot.
Orlando did get the ball moving on several occasions and were solid when they could get out on the break and beat the Pelicans down the floor. The defense was actually pretty solid too, forcing difficult shots and even keeping Davis from an efficient night (9 for 21 on the night).
The team ran into several major problems however.
Turnovers were the first one. This was how New Orleans built its lead. The Pelicans turned 17 turnovers into 30 points an that was a key part to their control over the pace of the game.
Orlando was able to run back at New Orleans at times, turning 14 turnovers into 17 points. And in the third quarter, Orlando got into the penalty early and turned those opportunities into points to bring the deficit down to a manageable margin.
New Orleans though had an answer when Orlando made its final push. That push brought the Magic within three points on several occasions. But turnovers and offensive rebounds always seemed to be New Orleans' saving grace.
Davis had seven offensive rebounds in the game and New Orleans had 16 as a team. True, the Magic gave up only 14 second chance points and actually outscored the Pelicans 54-42 in the paint, but each time New Orleans seemed to get an offensive board or get into the paint it came at big times.
The Magic's poor second quarter created too small a margin for error.
The Magic though gave themselves a chance to win and eliminated a 16-point deficit on the road. That is something that has been a tough thing for this team especially to do.
New Orleans though had the one difference necessary to win -- Anthony Davis. The Magic simply had no answer for him in the end.