When playing at home against a 2-9 team missing one of the NBA’s brightest stars, losing is not an option. Fortunately for the Orlando Magic, they took full advantage of the absence of Anthony Davis to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 89-82 at the Amway Center Wednesday night.
Davis missed the game due to a bruised quadriceps, forcing the Pelicans to find points from other places. With a lack of depth to begin with, that is not a formula for winning.
To their credit, New Orleans hung around until the end. After trailing by 14 points in the third period, the Pelicans made a late run to trail by only 67-65 entering the fourth quarter.
With 9:30 remaining, the outmanned Pelicans took a 70-69 lead. After quickly regaining the lead, the Magic kept New Orleans at bay the rest of the way.
“They made some plays and then we tightened up our defense and the ball started going in late,” said Magic Coach Frank Vogel. “You’ve got to rely on your defense and you’ve got to work to improve your offensive execution to get good shots. Then you’ve got to knock them down when you get them.”
Orlando again failed to reach 40 percent shooting, finishing the game at 34-for-88, or 39 percent. The Pelicans only shot 37 percent.
Perhaps Nikola Vucevic is starting to come out of his slump. He made five of 12 shots for 10 points while hauling in 14 rebounds. The totals for Vucevic matched his combined totals for the past three games.
Evan Fournier and Serge Ibaka had strong performances, scoring 16 and 10 points, respectively.
The Magic bench played well and nearly outscored the starters. D.J. Augustin and Aaron Gordon had 11 and 10 points respectively.
Sharpshooter Damjan Rudez had his best game, scoring 11 points in only 15 minutes of play. Bismack Biyombo was his usual active self with eight rebounds and harassing New Orleans shooters.
It was not an awe-inspiring performance from the Magic, but good enough. The bench played a large role in obtaining this win.
The Magic, now 5-7, have a couple of days to practice before their next game. The Dallas Mavericks come to town Saturday.