Nelson and the Magic look to continue their success at home and take advantage of a matchup with the undermanned Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.
Orlando (41-20) returns home following a 126-105 win at Philadelphia on Monday night. The Magic matched their highest point total of the season - set first in a win at Golden State (17-42) on Dec. 5 - even though star center Dwight Howard(notes) was limited to 14 points and three rebounds.
Instead, it was Nelson who led the way, posting 22 points and 10 assists while going 8 for 11 from the field.
The point guard appears to be settling down after sitting out a month early this season due to knee surgery. He also missed the second half of last season because of a shoulder injury.
Nelson, scoring 12.4 points per contest this season, is averaging 17.6 over his last five games. He’s averaging 27.0 points and shooting 69.2 percent (9 for 13) from 3-point range in his last two games versus the Warriors.
“Dwight always tells me that if I’m aggressive, it helps him,” Nelson said. “And it helps to open things up for the other guys.”
Nelson’s emergence as a consistent scorer has taken pressure off Howard, who is often the beneficiary of Nelson’s passes. After posting 20 straight double-doubles, Howard had seven points and five rebounds in Orlando’s 96-80 win over Miami on Sunday night.
“When we have balance … we’re hard to beat,” Nelson said. “I think that’s when we’re at our best when the ball moves in and out and everyone is chipping in. … We’re going to need (Howard) in the playoffs. We’ll be even better for it as a team because we’ll be rested and ready to go.”
Howard averaged 26.0 points, 15.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks in seven home games prior to facing the Heat. Orlando is 23-6 at Amway Arena, holding opponents to 93.7 points per game.
The Magic now face a Warriors team that’s ranked second in the league in scoring with 107.1 points per game. Golden State, though, is last in scoring defense, surrendering 110.6 points a contest, and it continues to be severely short-handed.
In the opener of a five-game road trip, Golden State dressed the minimum eight players in a 110-106 loss to Miami on Tuesday night.
The Warriors were without their top two scorers, Monta Ellis(notes) (back) and Corey Maggette(notes) (hamstring), along with center Andris Biedrins(notes) (sports hernia). All three are expected to miss Golden State’s trip.
Morrow is averaging 20.4 points over his last 10 games. Watson, starting for Ellis, is averaging 22.0 points over his past seven.
Watson had 17 points in Golden State’s 126-118 loss to Orlando in December. All five Magic starters reached double figures in scoring.