Monday, March 04, 2013 11:07 pm
Afflalo leads Magic past Hornets 105-102
By BRETT MARTELAP Sports Writer
Jameer Nelson, returning from a left knee injury that sidelined him six games, scored 15 points and Tobias Harris also scored 15 for Orlando, which trailed by as many as 17 points in the second half and erased a nine-point deficit during the final 3:15.
Afflalo scored 11 of his points in the fourth quarter, including an 11-foot turnaround over Eric Gordon in the lane that gave Orlando the lead for good at 101-100.
Afflalo hit two free throws soon after to make it 103-100, but found himself back on the free-throw line in a one-point game with 12 seconds left after Anthony Davis' tip-in made it 103-102.
Afflalo missed his second of two free throws, but Harris got the offensive rebound and hit one of two free throws to make it a three-point game with 10.6 seconds left.
The Hornets then struggled to set up a clean shot, and Greivis Vasquez's off-balance 3 in the final seconds missed badly, sealing New Orleans' collapse.
Davis, returning from a left shoulder sprain that sidelined him two games, had 17 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots for New Orleans. Vasquez and Gordon each added 17 points, but the normally explosive Gordon scored only five points in the second half and none in the fourth quarter.
Ryan Anderson, who played for Orlando last season, scored 13 points, and his 3-pointer gave New Orleans a 97-88 lead with 3:30 left and had the crowd on its feet.
Orlando called timeout, and when the game resumed, Afflalo made a tough driving layup during which he switched hands from left to right, sparking an 11-1 run which Al Harrington capped with a 3 that put the Magic briefly in front 99-98.
Maurice Harkless, who had 13 points, had a follow-up dunk during the surge. Harrington finished with 10 points.
Anderson had 13 points for the Hornets.
New Orleans led for most of the game, which included dramatic shifts in momentum.
After trailing the entire first quarter and much of the second, Orlando took its first and only lead of the first three quarters with a 9-0 run that featured Afflalo's mid-range jumper and 3, and which was capped by Nicholson's jumper, which made it 36-31.
New Orleans then closed the half on a 15-0 run in which Vasquez scored six on three-point play and 3-pointer to make it 46-36 at halftime.
The Hornets extended the run to 19-0 by scoring the first four points of the second half and took their biggest lead after back-to-back 3s by Anderson and Gordon made it 61-44.
At that point, it looked like the Hornets would run away with a home-court rout, but Orlando was far from finished.
Nelson, who had missed all four of his shots in the first half, hit a 3 from the left corner, sparking a 22-5 run in which he scored 11 points himself. Nelson added a three-point play on a driving layup as he was fouled and hit another 3 during the spurt, and Afflalo's short turnaround in the lane tied the game at 66 with 2:28 still left in the third quarter.
After that, New Orleans regrouped and held the lead for most of the fourth quarter before fading in the final minutes.
Notes: The Hornets entered the game 5-0 on Mondays this season. ... Vasquez, who had eight assists, has had the Hornets' team-high (either tied or alone) in assists in each of the club's 61 games this season. ... Harris, who averaged 4.9 points in 28 games in Milwaukee earlier this season, is now averaging 16.8 points in his first six games with Orlando since being traded as part of a six-player deal Feb. 21.