Magic snap seven-game home losing skid with win over 76ers

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO -- A little added incentive can go a long way sometimes in the NBA.

It was no surprise Sunday night when point guard Jameer Nelson and center Nikola Vucevic sparked the Orlando Magic to a 99-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

It was the Philly connection.

Nelson, who missed the previous two games against his hometown team, had 24 points and 10 assists in one of his most complete performances this season. Vucevic, whom the Sixers traded to the Magic this summer, had a game high 17 rebounds along with 14 points.

It allowed the Magic to snap a seven-game, home-court losing streak, but it extended the Sixers' road losing streak to 13 games, their longest in 24 years.

Thaddeus Young led Philadelphia with 26 points and 12 rebounds. He was coming off a 25-point night in Miami Friday.

Nelson outplayed Sixers All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, who managed just eight points and eight assists.

Nelson made five of his nine 3-point attempts, including the game-changer with 3:40 remaining that gave the Magic a 91-87 lead.

"Maybe it is a little extra motivation to do well (against Philadelphia)," said Nelson, who played both high school and college there. "I was told by some people in that organization that I wasn't good enough when I came out, so maybe I do have a little chip on my shoulder. But I really just try to help my team win."

Vucevic, who was part of the three-team deal that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers this summer, had grabbed 50 rebounds combined in the three games against Philadelphia.

"Maybe the first time I played against them it meant something extra, but really not anymore," Vucevic said in an unconvincing tone. "They made a business decision in Philadelphia. There were no hard feelings."

It was a much-needed win for the Magic (18-46), who had not won a home game in a month, losing those seven by an average of 22 points. They return to action Tuesday at home against the Lakers and a much-anticipated matchup with Howard.

The Sixers (23-39) have not won a road game since Jan. 1 in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

"Losing is not fun. I'm sure there is some discouragement now because there was such expectations this season," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "We've had great chances to win, but just haven't been able to do it."

Magic guard Arron Afflalo had 17 points, including two late baskets that iced the victory. Tobias Harris, getting just his second Magic start, had 15 points.

The Magic made 12 of 27 3-point shots. The Sixers made just five of 12.

"Three is better than two on the scoreboard," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "This win (at home) was important for us. Everyone is searching for wins this time of year. They are hard to come by."

The Magic led 73-72 going into the fourth period, and the lead changed hands, or was tied, nine times in the final 12 minutes.

The Magic led 56-51 at intermission, riding the fast start of Vucevic, who had 12 points and seven rebounds by halftime. The Sixers led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, but they couldn't sustain the effort.

Both teams shot well early, and neither played much defense. In the first half, the Magic shot 54 percent from the field and the Sixers 51 percent. Holiday struggled early, which contributed to Philadelphia's first-half troubles.

NOTES: The Magic and Sixers had one thing very much in common, one reason both are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. They can't get to the free throw line. The Magic are last in the NBA and the Sixers are next to last in free throws attempted, averaging just 16.1 and 16.7 attempts, respectively, coming into the game. Only three other teams in the league are below a 20-attempt average. The first half Sunday was more of the same with two teams combining for only six free throws. ... The Sixers traded second-year center Nikola Vucevic to the Magic this summer, but coach Doug Collins has remained a fan of his. "If he stays healthy, he's going to put up double-doubles in this league for a long time," Collins said before the game. "If you charted him in college, every year he got better. I think he's going to do the same thing as an NBA player." ... All the losing has taken a toll on the Magic box office. Interest in the Magic locally has dipped so much that tickets are being sold on game day for as low as $4 a seat. ... Magic forward Glen Davis, who hasn't played since Jan. 30 because of a fractured left foot, has put himself on a vegan diet in hopes of keeping down his weight, which has been a problem since he came into the league. A vegan diet includes no consumption of any animal products. "The lighter the better," Davis said.
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