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Nelson leads Magic past Pistons

The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Jameer Nelson provided the leadership the Orlando Magic had been lacking. With his inspiration, the Magic erased a 13-point, second-half deficit and snapped a five-game losing streak.

Returning from a six-game absence due to hamstring and groin injuries, Nelson had 13 points and 10 assists to lift the Magic to a 110-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons Friday.

"He's our leader, no doubt about that," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "He's our captain, our leader in the locker room, he orchestrates things on the floor and he gathers guys in timeouts and gets them straight. That's what a point guard is supposed to do."

Nelson's backcourt partner, J.J. Redick, scored a game-high 23 points and made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 42.8 seconds remaining.

"He's a guy that when he shoots, I think it's going in every single time," Vaughn said of Redick. "That's great confidence to have in him and he deserves to make shots."

Nelson deserves extra credit for exhorting his teammates during a third-quarter timeout, which sparked the rally.

"We had to deliver our blow," Nelson said. "We had to be more aggressive. We had to do everything harder and be tougher. We made some adjustments, set some screens, got guys open, put the ball in the right people's hands and made some big stops in the end."

Arron Afflalo had 19 points and Glen Davis supplied 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Magic. Greg Monroe's 23 points and seven rebounds led Detroit, which dropped to 1-9.

The Pistons led 75-62 with 2:57 remaining in the third, but the Magic (3-5) finished the quarter with a 9-0 run to close the gap to 75-71. Orlando's momentum carried into the fourth, as Redick made a 3-pointer and two free throws to give the Magic the lead. Nikola Vucevic followed his own miss to complete the 27-11 run for an 89-86 Orlando advantage.

"We weren't guarding anyone," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. "It catches up to you and you could see it early where the game was going. Very, very disappointing. If we're going to lose, we have to lose on our terms."

From there, neither club led by more than four. Redick's free throws with 2:20 remaining put Orlando back on top, 99-97. After two Nelson free throws, Jason Maxiell's three-point play brought Detroit within one. Kyle Singler then made two free throws after a Magic turnover, giving the Pistons a 102-101 edge with 47.7 seconds left.

Redick answered with his corner 3-pointer and Davis scored in the lane after a Monroe miss, giving Orlando a four-point lead. The Magic made four free throws to close it out.

"It's just a let up of concentration and focus," Singler said. "It's something that we have to correct. We've shown we can be a good defensive team. We just need to put forth the right amount of effort."

Singler, a rookie who played in Spain last season, started his second consecutive game in place of Rodney Stuckey. After the Pistons won at Philadelphia Wednesday to break their eight-game losing streak, Stuckey volunteered to come off the bench so that Frank could stick with his winning lineup. Stuckey missed that road game with flu-like symptoms.

There was plenty of balance in Frank's rotation during the first half, as six players scored at least six points. That lifted the Pistons to a 50-44 halftime lead on 56.8 percent shooting.

Another Detroit rookie, center Andre Drummond, made three second-quarter baskets to give his team the lead. Singler followed with a transition layup and later drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing to make it 45-38.

Stuckey's only points of the half, a close-range bank shot, came in the closing seconds to give the Pistons their six-point advantage.

Afflalo kept the Magic within striking range with 12 first-half points.

Notes: Detroit forward Corey Maggette grabbed his 4,000th career rebound during the second quarter. ... Orlando had lost 12 of its last 15 games at The Palace before Friday. ... The two teams are among the youngest in the league, with a combined nine rookies and four second-year men. ... Detroit plays four of its next six games at home. ... The Magic continues a three-game road trip with stops in Toronto Sunday and Atlanta Monday.
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