For more than three quarters, the Orlando Magic gave the San Antonio Spurs all that they could handle.
But the defending Western Conference champions avoided a total letdown after their 24-point drubbing of the Miami Heat on Thursday night as the Spurs pulled away over the final five minutes for a 121-112 victory over the Magic.
The Magic were ahead by seven points late in the second quarter and took a 61-59 halftime lead on a 3-pointer at the horn by Arron Afflalo off an errant outlet pass by Tim Duncan. The return of Jameer Nelson to the starting lineup after he missed two games with a sore right calf was most noticeable in that the Magic committed only two turnovers in the first 24 minutes while shooting 50 percent.
Tobias Harris came off the bench after starting the previous 15 games in order for Kyle O’Quinn to be matched up against Duncan. While both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili gave the Magic fits, Duncan got off to an 0-for-6 start in the first quarter and finished with only 11 points, although he grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked three shots.
Harris paced the Magic with 23 points, while Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 13 rebounds. The Magic ended up shooting 47.9 percent, which wasn’t too shabby but was not as good as the 53.1 percent figure turned in by the Spurs.
Rookie Victor Oladipo missed his second consecutive game due to a sore left ankle.
The loss dropped the Magic to 4-22 lifetime in San Antonio and 4-29 for the season on the road. They are now 0-11 away from home against teams from the West. Their four remaining games take place in a six-day stretch beginning March 18.
THE TURNING POINT
The Magic trailed only 104-99 more than halfway through the fourth quarter before the Spurs went on a 15-5 run.