Nelson lifts Magic over Bobcats 92-83

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn had been eagerly awaiting the return

of Nikola Vucevic to his starting lineup.

The 7-foot center showed why Wednesday night.

Vucevic had a double-double in the first half after missing the

last four games with a sprained left ankle, Jameer Nelson had 12 of

his 17 points in the fourth quarter and the Orlando Magic snapped a

six-game losing streak with a 92-83 victory over the Charlotte

Bobcats.

Glen Davis added 17 points and 12 rebounds and Arron Afflalo

chipped in with 16 points.

”We needed this one,” Davis said. ”We needed it bad. We are a

good team. We just all got to be healthy, you know what I mean?

Look at what Nik did out there today. We’ve been missing that. It’s

been tough for us in the paint. He loosens everything up for me,

most definitely. Him being a factor out there, people have to guard

him and also he’s going to get rebounds and help us with fast-break

points.”

Orlando had 36 points in the paint and outrebounded the Bobcats

52-41. The Magic scored 17 points off second-chance points, many of

those rebounds kept alive by Vucevic.

Vucevic, who was a game-time decision, finished with 12 points

and 14 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season.

”Just overall you see rotation-wise, we were a little bit more

concrete and had a little bit more flow to our rotations tonight,”

Vaughn said. ”We had favorable matchups at different parts of the

game, and when he can match up against Al Jefferson that’s pretty

good for us.”

Nelson came up with a big 3-pointer late for the Magic, and also

had seven rebounds and six assists while outplaying opposing point

guard Kemba Walker.

The Magic led by four with just over a minute remaining in the

game when Nelson knocked down a 26-footer from the top of the key

to push the lead to 86-79. The Bobcats cut it back to five, but

Nelson beat Walker on a drive for a layup to push the lead back to

seven with 42 seconds left and essentially seal the victory.

Seven Orlando players finished in double figures in scoring.

”I think that is how we have to play,” Vucevic said. ”We

don’t really have a go-to guy on this team that is going to score

20 a game. You got to have a different guy scoring.”

The Bobcats shot 37 percent in ending their two-game win

streak.

Jefferson led Charlotte with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Walker, who had 31 points against Stephen Curry on Monday night,

was held to 10 points on 4-of-18 shooting.

Orlando led 43-42 at the break behind a productive first half

from Vucevic, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds while outplaying

Jefferson inside.

After going 13 straight games without giving up 100 points, the

Bobcats’ second-ranked defense allowed 111 points to Golden State

on Monday night in a four-point victory, prompting coach Steve

Clifford to say tongue-in-cheek ”we shut them down.” While the

Bobcats limited the Magic to 42 percent shooting, they couldn’t get

their offense going and the ball wouldn’t go down.

Charlotte’s trio of Walker, Gerald Henderson and Jefferson were

a combined 11 of 42 from the field.

”I think our team for the most part all year our effort has

been exceptional. Tonight our readiness from our starters was

poor,” Clifford said. ”… We got outworked on the glass. We came

in as the No. 1 rebounding team in the NBA and for whatever reason

tonight didn’t put the effort in, the physicality in, the things

that are hard to do night in and night out. We didn’t want to do it

tonight and it cost us.”

The game featured a matchup of former Indiana Hoosiers with Cody

Zeller taking on Victor Oladipo. Zeller finished with 10 points on

5-of-7 shooting and six rebounds, while Oladipo had 10 points on

5-of-10 shooting with four rebounds.

”It’s always fun playing against Victor and we seem to bring

out the best in each other,” Zeller said.

NOTES: The Bobcats signed small forward Chris Douglas-Roberts

earlier in the day, but he did not play. The team released James

Southerland to make room on the roster. … Afflalo has scored in

double digits 21 times this year. … Henderson has scored in

double digits in 13 straight games. … Walker has started 170

straight games for the Bobcats, tied for the third-longest streak

in franchise history.