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Magic use big second half to beat Suns

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Associated Press
11/4/2012 9:06:10 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- In their season opener, the Orlando Magic embraced new coach Jacque Vaughn's free-flowing style and grabbed a surprise lopsided victory.

Sunday night against Phoenix, the Magic again faced what was on paper a faster and more experienced team -- and they were missing a pair of veteran starters.

For the second straight game, though, Orlando played like the more cohesive team down the stretch and used a big third-quarter run to rally past the Suns, 115-94.

J.J. Redick had the hottest hand, scoring 24 points, followed by Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis with 22 points each, and Nikola Vucevic adding 18 points and 13 rebounds.

"I just think it was energy," Redick said. "I don't think it was anything to do with our offence. There's only about five or six plays you can run in the NBA. ... It's not necessarily the offence. It's 'how you execute the offence."

The Magic trailed by as many as 13 points early in the second half, but used a 40-point third quarter to build as much as a 21-point cushion in the fourth.

Luis Scola paced the Suns with 24 points and Michael Beasley added 22. But Phoenix's shooting eroded in the second half, falling from 50 per cent (23 of 46) in the first half to 35 per cent (16 of 45) in the second.

"I think we're struggling somewhat to have consistency offensively," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "We had our moments. ... But we're a work in progress and we continue to work and try to get better and we'll see what happens."

With the victory the Magic opened a season 2-0 for the first time since 2009-10. The Suns lost their fifth straight game in Orlando.

Vaughn had to go to his bench to fill his starting lineup because of injuries to point guard Jameer Nelson and small forward Hedo Turkoglu.

Turkoglu broke a bone in his left hand during the Magic's season-opening victory Friday over Denver. Nelson made it through that game, but afterward was diagnosed with a strained hamstring and groin, and sprained ankle.

Vaughn gave rookie DeQuan Jones and free agent pickup E'Twaun Moore the nod in their place. Moore played with Boston last season, but it was the first NBA start for Jones.

It was hard to tell if the Magic missed a beat without them, though.

The Suns led 71-60 early in the third quarter before the Magic went on a 26-5 run to take an 86-76 edge entering the fourth. In all, the Orlando outscored Phoenix 40-20 for the period, connecting on six 3-pointers and 16 of 24 shots.

At one point during the spurt, Davis knocked a loose ball out of bounds off a Suns' defender and he turned and implored the crowd, which replied by cheering loudly in support.

The Magic rode that boost into the final period and the Suns never really threatened the rest of the way as Orlando continued to get shots to fall in bunches.

"We started playing selfish," Beasley said. "They started getting whatever they wanted from inside out. For that sequence they killed us on rebounds."

For the game, Orlando connected on 9 of 11 3-pointers. The Magic held a double-digit advantage on points in the paint for the second consecutive game.

"Where we stress to our players that each day you put in work and effort, there's something rewarding for you for that effort. And that's been our approach," Vaughn said.

It looked like Phoenix was going to be the team with the easy night early.

During the Nuggets' win, Vaughn managed to mask the youth and inexperience on his roster with a strong shooting night and a huge advantage scoring in the paint.

There was no hiding it Sunday, though, as Phoenix spread the floor and pushed the pace early. It forced the youthful Magic into several ball control turnovers in the half court, which keyed several Suns' breaks in the early going.

Phoenix also lived in the paint in the first two quarters, scoring 26 of their points there in building a 56-46 halftime lead.

Scola was the most active for Phoenix, scoring 16 points for a Suns' team that shot 50 per cent from the field in the opening 24 minutes.

The Magic stayed within striking distance, though, connecting on all four of their attempts from beyond the arc.

They will now try to keep that momentum as it hits the road for the first time Tuesday for back-to-back games at Chicago and Minnesota.

Davis said there's no secret to what's driving the Magic so far.

"We're a team," he said. "There's no one guy here who's going to get it done. There's no All-Stars here...If we want to go far, we can't go alone.

"When it's pure and it's genuine, it's a whole different feeling," Davis added. "You've got to be here to feel it."

NOTES: There was a 12-minute delay between the first and second quarters after the net was partially torn down during a trampoline dunking promotion. ...Vaughn said he expects the night off Sunday to give Nelson an extra day to be ready for the road trip. ... Turkoglu had surgery Saturday on the broken bone in his left hand. He'll miss at least four weeks. ... Gentry said he's known Vaughn since he was in high school and pointed out other shared connections as a former assistant at Vaughn's collegiate alma mater Kansas and later with the Spurs. Gentry said he expects the first-year coach to have a long career in the NBA coaching ranks. "If you really look at it, we've kind of been to the same places," he said. "He's gonna be fine."

J.J. Redick (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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