Magic Musings: Another strong defensive effort, another home victory
ORLANDO, Fla. — Winning consecutive home games for only the second time all season, the Orlando Magic continued to flex their new-found defensive muscle Friday night in defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 95-84.
The victory marked the fifth time in as many games since James Borrego replaced Jacque Vaughn as head coach that the Magic held an opponent under 100 points. The Pelicans were only 11 of 34 from the floor in the second half and managed 37 points.
Despite being without Tobias Harris (sore right knee) for the third game in a row, the Magic shot 50 percent and got double-figure scoring from four of their five starters. Victor Oladipo led the way with 22 points, followed by Nikola Vucevic with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Evan Fournier had 16 points in place of Harris, and Elfrid Payton scored 10 points and handed out 11 assists.
The Pelicans had Anthony Davis for the first time since he suffered a right should sprain that kept him out of the NBA All-Star Game. But he missed 10 of his 15 shots and finished with a relatively modest 13 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.
Forward Andrew Nicholson got into his first game for the Magic in more than a month, coming off the bench toward the end of the first quarter. Borrego even kept him in for the entire fourth quarter. Nicholson finished with six points in 21 minutes.
Norris Cole, obtained Thursday by the Pelicans in a trade with the Miami Heat, was not in uniform, leaving New Orleans with only 11 available players.
The win was the Magic’s seventh against Western Conference teams this season. They had six all of last season.
THE TURNING POINT
The Magic outscored the Pelicans 14-4 over the first six minutes of the fourth quarter to take a 12-point lead. Willie Green had two 3-pointers and a layup off an assist from Dewayne Dedmon during that run.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Oladipo scored 12 of his 22 points in the third quarter, when the Magic went from trailing 47-43 at halftime to leading 73-71.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Magic had 64 points in the paint, their season high in that category.
Sunday night vs. Philadelphia, 6 p.m.