Ty Lawson scored 25 points and created a highlight when his sudden crossover/step back caused Ryan Anderson's ankle to roll as the Denver Nuggets went into Orlando and took down the Dwight Howard-less Magic 104-101 Sunday night.
Often lifting the Denver offense when there was nothing else going, Lawson used his quickness to constantly drive the lane and created nine assists for the team in the process.
Without Howard, out due to back pain stemming from the Magic's last tilt against Dallas, and after the Nuggets' deadline deal of Nene to Washington, neither team had any kind of post offense, limiting this skirmish to a series of long jump shots and crazy drives to the hoop.
Ultimately, the Nuggets fared better, shooting nearly 56-percent and exposing the Magic faithful to what their team might be like defensively should their All-Star center finally pick up and leave. Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington were effective scorers as well for Denver, scoring 40 points on 28 shots between them.
The Magic kept the game close despite not shooting near as well as the Nuggets (only 42 percent) by exposing Denver's gooey inside themselves and securing 18 offensive rebounds and scoring 46 points in the paint. Orlando also won the turnover battle by a plus-seven margin.
Glen Davis, who was starting in place of Howard, hauled in nine of those 18 offensive rebounds, part of a productive 18 point, 16 rebound night.
Jameer Nelson relentlessly attacked the Nuggets on drives to the right side, finding success over and over again with such strategy. Nelson, who has been one of the Magic's best performers since the All-Star break, led all scorers with 27 points on 11-for-21 shooting and tallied five assists.
In the end, the Magic couldn't stop the Lawson/Andre Miller-led lineup for Denver, a combination that has proven very efficient for Denver this season, as the Nuggets scored 28 in the final quarter. Orlando had pulled back to within two in the final minute when Lawson's quick stop rolled Anderson's ankle and the Nuggets guard buried the now wide-open jump shot to provide cover again.
The Magic had a final chance after Miller missed one and made the second of two free throws, but Orlando had no timeouts left to advance the ball with 3.3 seconds remaining, leaving Jason Richardson attempting to step through two Nuggets to launch a 36-foot game tying three, which failed.
Mike from Illinois makes an interesting statistical revelation over at Orlando Pinstriped Post:
This was the ninth time this season the Magic have not outscored the opposition from three-point range, and all nine times the Magic have lost.
For more on the winning team, head out to Denver Stiffs.
For all of Sunday's NBA box scores, check out SI.com's NBA scoreboard.