2008-09 Game 53: Denver Nuggets at Orlando Magic Game Thread

The big story heading into tonight’s game is how the Denver Nuggets have not won in Orlando since I was a senior in high school. 

By the way, I am old.

March 10, 1992 was the last time the Nuggets left the floor in Orlando victorious.  It took what was probably a career night from Mark Macon to pull off an 89-82 victory.  Since then the Nuggets have gone 0-15 in Orlando.  Here is the ugly history.

Season Score Den High Scorer Orl High Scorer
92-93 111-99 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf 25 Shaquille O’Neal 24
93-94 95-88 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf 22 Shaquille O’Neal 29
94-95 120-96 Reggie Slater 16 Shaquille O’Neal 24
95-96 121-93 Dale Ellis 18 Shaquille O’Neal 30
96-97 99-86 LaPhonso Ellis 24 Penny Hardaway 22
97-98 103-85 Johnny Newman 23 Horace Grant 21
98-99 Lockout    
99-00 110-107 Antonio McDyess 35 John Amaechi 31
00-01 103-93 Antonio McDyess 28 Tracy McGrady 36
01-02 124-102 Juwan Howard 20 Tracy McGrady 30
02-03 111-98 Juwan Howard 19 Tracy McGrady 43*
03-04 102-98 Carmelo Anthony 35 Juwan Howard 24
04-05 117-95 DerMarr Johnson 18 Cuttino Mobley 19
05-06 94-83 Carmelo Anthony 23 DeShawn Stevenson 18
06-07 108-99 Carmelo Anthony 34 Keyon Dooling 24
07-08 109-98 Carmelo Anthony 32 Rashard Lewis 25

*McGrady outscored the Nuggets 37-32 in the first half by himself.

That all equates to an average score of 108.5 to 94.7.  Not only have the Nuggets not won in Orlando during this stretch, they have only been within six points (two possessions) twice.  Interestinlgy this will be the fifth season in a row where the Nuggets must play in Orland the night after playing in Miami.  Some may think that is unfair to the Nuggets, but it is equally as unfair to the Heat.  Over the previous three seasons Denver has won in Miami only to go to Orlando the next night and lose.  Should Denver lose tonight it will extend that streak to four seasons.  Don’t you think Miami would like to see the Nuggets play in Orlando and then have to travel to Miami to play the second half of the back to back?

The bad news for the Nuggets is this is arguably the best team in Magic franchise history.  They are certainly on pace to have the best record in franchise history this season.  There is some hope amongst Nugget fans that because Jameer Nelson is injured Orlando is ripe for the picking.  Nelson was a well deserving All-Star this season and his loss is a painful one for the Magic, but this team is deep enough to keep cruising without Nelson running the show.

Without Jameer they have gone 2-1 (although they lost the game he was injured in at home to Dallas so you could make an argument they are 2-2 without him) with home blowout wins over the Clippers and Nets and a road loss at Indiana. 

What makes the Magic a deadly team is their three point shooting.  Thanks to Dwight Howard they get a lot of open looks due to the fact that defenses must collapse on him in the post.  However, Nelson did generate a lot of open looks himself due to his ability to penetrate and kick.  In the first meeting this season Nelson was in the lane all night long.  Neither Chauncey nor Anthony Carter could keep up with him.  Obviously his absence is a big key to this game, but Denver cannot just expect to show up and win because he is out.

Denver is most likely going to be without a vital player as well in Chris “Birdman” Andersen although he is listed as questionable.  Nene has struggled with foul trouble pretty frequently this season.  He is third in the NBA in total fouls at 191 (one behind Andris Biedrins and three behind Jason Thompson) and is fifth in fouls per game.  (This has nothing to do with anything, but Roy Hibbert leads the NBA in fouls per 48 minutes at 10.1 per game.  Sorry, one more because it has to do with the Nuggets.  There are only two players who are not centers or power forwards in the top 30 for fouls per 48 minutes.  Dahntay Jones has the highest rate of fouls per 48 minutes of any player who is not a post player at 6.3.)

Getting back on task here Nene fouled out in only 17 minutes against Howard the first time they played this season.  Denver cannot afford a repeat of that performance.  With Birdzilla questionable (and I think most likely out) the Nuggets are going to have to rely on either Kenyon Martin or Johan Petro to guard Howard and I do not look forward to the results under either of those circumstances.  It might make some sense to play zone in that situation, but because Orlando is such a great perimeter team there is no way you can.  I think Denver will have to double Howard with J.R. or Dahntay in order to get the tallest player possible hounding him.  If Billups or AC double it is easier for Howard to pass out.  The extra three or four inches of reach between the Nuggets’ shooting guards compared to their point guards may not sound like much, but it can make a difference when it comes to harassing a post player. 

I would like to see Denver go as big as possible, especially when Nene is out by utilizing Balkman off the bench instead of Carter.  There is no player on the Magic such as a Dwyane Wade who Anthony Carter is needed to cover.  Why not put Balkman in to help on the boards and to provide energy that may be lacking after a hard fought game in Miami.

This is the last game of a five game roadie (I refuse to call this an eight game road trip when they have six days off in the middle of it) and the Nuggets have a chance to put a big notch in the win column tonight by beating an elite team and putting a stake in the heart of this losing streak.  A 4-1 trip heading into the break would be a very good accomplishment for the Nuggets and it could serve as a springboard into the last couple of months of the season.

Update:  As suspected Chris Andersen is out tonight.

Denver Nuggets Game Notes

Previous Matchup:  Game 41 – Den 88 Orl 106

Featured Blog:  Third Quarter Collapse 

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  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Nene gets his first foul just a couple of minutes in.

  • Josh Hopp

    Nene with a miss a foul and 2 TOs early on.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Pretty sloppy game over the first three or four minutes. Nuggets have made three steals, but have turned it over two or three times themselves.

  • Josh Hopp

    I can’t believe our first big off the bench will be Petro.

  • Josh Hopp

    What we don’t need is to commit offensive fouls

  • Josh Hopp

    Orlando are in the bonus, 100% of our starters have a foul

  • Josh Hopp

    Bugger!! 2 on Nene. Man that is brutal. Orlando are in the penalty now so we must capatalise

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    And Nene has to sit down with two fouls seven minutes in and we get Petro just like Josh Hopp said.

  • Josh Hopp

    I have never understood why Tyronne Lue has been in the league for so long

  • Josh Hopp

    Hmmm… so yeah. I liked the 11 point lead we had for a bit but the foul situation is chronic. Kenyon Martin has quietly been one of our best players (as in top 3) over the last few weeks. What a win this would be.

  • Josh Hopp

    Hahaha, oh man. LK. You suck. Stop travelling dude!!

  • Othe33

    All I have is the Gamecast, but from what I can see this looks like the opportunity we Nuggets fans have been waiting for. Hopefully we take the ball right to Howard’s chest and keep him in foul trouble early in the half.

  • king_couttsy

    I’m stuck watching on nba.com cause I’m at work here in Aus. Was it really a great defensive first half, or did the Magic really suck that badly??

  • Josh Hopp

    Oh man a nice lead going into the 4th. LETS WIN NUGS

  • Josh Hopp

    These fouls will lose us the game

  • Josh Hopp


  • Josh Hopp

    Aaah man. Chauncey. He just loves the 3 ball.

  • Josh Hopp

    LK YOU SUCK!!!

  • Josh Hopp

    Oh god 3 from Lee. Don’t do this to me

  • Josh Hopp



  • Josh Hopp

    What a superb win, well done Nuggets. Orlando had just 3 guys with double figures and noone over 16. Melo shot badly but got to the line like a champ. Martin’s D was great. Nene wasn’t fouled out in the game before his wedding. Congratulations to him and his new wife and congratulations to the team and its fans for a great win and season so far!

  • DurangoNuggsFan

    Props to Juwan Howard for making both sides of the list.

  • sleepydog

    In consecutive years, no less.

    Strange game overall, even though the nugs were up comfortably for pretty much the whole game i never really felt confident about it until late. Even though we were playing pretty good 3-pt defense i expected them to hit a few more than they did.

    Big game for petro, he played legitimate minutes, and played howard pretty tough. he came up big when we needed him.

  • NuggetsandRockiesGirl

    What a big big win for the Nuggs, loved watching every minute of it! Nice team play…defense was rockin! Congrats to Nene on his big day coming up! Petro did well, enjoyed his play! Looking forward to seeing J.R. in the dunk contest and Chauncey in the game, as well as many Nuggets victories still to come!

  • Josh Hopp

    Damn, I forgot to mention Petro. He was great! He made a great statement steal on Howard when he first came into the game, “yeah, you got our franchise big in foul trouble, but I can play basketball too, mate”! He grabbed boards and didnt seem to feel the need to score, going 1-1 from the field. Props to our newest team member.

  • Stumbleweed

    Hah, Marlowe actually said, “Don’t mess with the Johan!”

    I wonder how long he was saving that one up.