Magic 105, Hornets 102

Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- Arron Afflalo scored nine of Orlando's final 15 points in the closing 3:14, including a go-ahead, 10-foot jumper in the lane, to lead the Magic to a 105-102 comeback victory over the Hornets on Monday night at New Orleans Arena.
The Magic, who won for just the fifth time in their last 36 games, erased a 17-point deficit in the second half and a nine-point deficit with 3:28 to go. Afflalo scored 11 points in the fourth quarter.
After Greivis Vasquez gave the Hornets their final lead of the game at 100-99 with 1:06 left on a driving bank shot, Afflalo posted up Eric Gordon on Orlando's next possession and made his tough jumper in the lane. He added three free throws in the final 18.8 seconds to secure the win for the Magic (17-44).
The Hornets (21-40) got 17 points each from Anthony Davis, Vasquez and Gordon, but they could not keep Afflalo or Jameer Nelson, who finished with 15 points, out of the lane down the stretch.
The Hornets led 97-88 with 3:28 left and appeared to be in control after Ryan Anderson, held scoreless in the first half, scored seven of his 13 second-half points in a 2:03 span of the fourth quarter. But Orlando refused to quit, going on an 8-1 run to cut the New Orleans margin to 98-96 with 2:00 left.
The Hornets outscored the Magic 30-8 in an 8:09 span of the second and third quarters to take a 61-44 lead, climaxed by 3-pointers from Anderson and Gordon.
But Orlando responded with an 22-5 run to claw back into a 66-66 tie. Jameer Nelson was the catalyst, scoring 11 of his 13 third-quarter points in the surge.
But New Orleans closed the quarter on an 10-4 run to lead 76-70.
Al Harrington hit only his fourth 3-pointer of the season and E'Twuan Moore followed with another long-range jumper to give the Magic a 78-76 lead with 10:01 left. The Hornets then went inside, with Vasquez scoring on a drive and Robin Lopez hitting two fouls shots after getting the ball near the rim, and New Orleans went back up 80-78.
The Hornets used a 15-0 run at the end of the first half to take a 46-36 lead. The Magic went scoreless in the final 6:24 and came up empty on their final nine possessions of the half.
New Orleans started its run after Lopez and Anderson went to the bench with three fouls. Xavier Henry hit back-to-back jumpers, and Vasquez drove down the right side of the lane for a layup and converted a free throw, putting the Hornets on top 38-36.
After Al-Farouq Aminu blocked Afflalo on the baseline, Gordon nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing. Gordon made 5 of 8 shots in the first half and had 12 points.
New Orleans closed out the run with a 17-foot jumper by Davis and a 3-pointer from the left baseline by Vasquez, who had eight points and five assists in the half. The Magic were led by Tobias Harris, who had 12 points off the bench.
NOTES: Nelson returned for the Magic after sitting out the previous six games with a bruised knee. ... After missing the previous two games with a sprained left shoulder, Davis returned to the Hornets' starting lineup. Davis was playing some of his best basketball of the season in his last two full games before the Feb. 26 injury, scoring 30 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. Hornets coach Monty Williams said he wants to see Davis "defend and rebound. Everything else will come from that. When he's running the floor, it just makes us such a better team. I'm going to be careful about playing him in long stretches. I'd like to get him and Ryan (Anderson) in there together some." ... Rookie guard Austin Rivers, who struggled early in the season, averaged 7.7 points and 3.3 assists off the bench in his previous three games. "I like Austin (at backup point guard) because he gives us the ability to do some different things on defense," Williams said. "I like bigger guards because you can switch with them at the end of the shot clock. It gives you the ability to keep people out of the paint. I really like his fight. Austin doesn't back down from any situation."... Entering Monday night's game, the Magic had lost 31 of 35 games. "We're all glad there's another game -- after last night (a 108-82 loss to Memphis)," Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said, smiling. "That's the great thing about the NBA. That it provides that relief rather quickly."

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