The shot of the night belonged to Rocky -- the cute little
mountain lion -- who lined up at halfcourt during a timeout and
chucked one in backward over his head, then went body surfing into
the crowd to celebrate.
The Nuggets weren't bad either -- running, cutting, passing,
shooting 48.8 percent and falling just two points short of their
highest-scoring game of the season.
"When you get stops, rebound the ball, get it out and everyone
is committed to running and sharing, good things happen," coach
Jeff Bzdelik said.
Dwight Howard and Steve Francis led the Magic with 23 points
apiece. Grant Hill added 20 for Orlando, which came into the opener
of its six-game road trip with the best record in the Eastern
Conference and played hard all night despite falling behind by 25
in the second quarter.
"We fell behind in the first half and we had to scramble all
night to try and get it done," Magic coach Johnny Davis said.
"Against this team, or any team for that matter, you can't come
out and give up that kind of lead and hope to be successful."
For the second straight game after an abominable performance in
their 92-73 loss to Cleveland, the Nuggets looked committed to
pushing the pace, and the results were obvious.
Denver scored 68 points in the first half, the most in a half
this season. Kenyon Martin kicked things off by scoring 10 of
Denver's first 14 points; his 23 points were one short of a season
high, and he also had 12 rebounds. Miller went 14-for-14 from the
line en route to his season high. He also had seven rebounds and
"This is the way we envisioned the offense," Anthony said.
The Magic played without Tony Battie, who was serving a one-game
suspension for elbowing Pao Gasol of the Grizzlies in a game
Saturday. Kelvin Cato left in the third quarter after taking a
nasty fall on his left hand on a play in which he was called for an
offensive foul. He is expected to miss some time. Francis and
Howard were both battling colds.
"We missed Tony, we missed Cato," Francis said. "They had a
lot of dunks in the middle and easy layups. That's something that
The Nuggets played the second half without Marcus Camby, whose
left knee swelled up, the result of an injury Saturday against
Miami. Bzdelik said Camby should be fine for the start of Denver's
seven-game road trip -- the longest of the season -- beginning
Wednesday in Washington.
Denver played 13 of its first 17 at home and stands at 10-7 --
not quite where it wants to be at this point, but with a two-game
winning streak and playing much better than just a few nights ago.
"We have to have the same mentality on the road," Martin said.
"This is an important road trip."
Bzdelik said the Nuggets are strongly considering bringing
in another point guard during their road trip. Miller and Earl
Boykins currently play the point. ... Battie wasn't allowed in the
arena, so he stayed in the hotel and had to listen to the game on
radio because the hotel didn't carry the cable channel that
televised the game. ... With Magic assistant Paul Westhead in the
building, the Nuggets had three former head coaches on hand:
Westhead, TV color commentator Bill Hanzlik and consultant Doug
Moe. ... The Nuggets improved to 6-1 against the Eastern