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New Orleans Pelicans 82 Orlando Magic 89: defense, balance propels Magic past Pelicans

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The Magic defense stepped up and put together a strong night against the short handed Pelicans.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off another abysmal performance offensively on Monday night,t he Orlando Magic looked to turn things back in the right direction at home against the Anthony Davis-less New Orleans Pelicans. While it wasn’t always pretty, the Magic put together one of their more complete games of the season, knocking off the shorthanded Pelicans, 89-82.

With Davis, the NBA’s third leading scorer out with a quad contusion, things were likely going to be tough for the Pelicans to score. Early on, however, it was both teams struggling to score, despite getting some good looks at the basket. As the quarter wore on, both teams began finding their groove a little more, settling into the flow of the game. Despite shooting just 43 percent from the field, the Magic defense held the Pelicans to 33 percent, helping them carry a slight two point lead, 21-19, into the second quarter.

Turning to the reserves, the Magic found some better balance on both ends of the floor. The defense, led by Bismack Biyombo and Aaron Gordon, stifled the Pelicans offense, holding them to 6-19 shooting in the quarter, while forcing six turnovers leading to seven Magic points. D.J. Augustin helped push the pace, getting the Magic out on the fastbreak for some easy points, helping the Magic to have a nine point advantage in fastbreak points in the opening quarter. At the half, behind hot shooting from beyond the arc, and strong defense, the Magic led the shorthanded Pelicans 52-40.

Out of halftime, the Magic were once again lifeless, especially on the offensive end. The ball began sticking, with players going one-on-one on most trips down the floor. Their offensive struggles continued for the majority of the quarter, with the team shooting a dreadful 5-26 from the field, including 3-15 in the painted area. Despite their inability to score, the defense continued to put in good minutes, allowing the Magic to hold a two point lead, 65-63, heading into the fourth quarter.

Needing to find their groove offensively again, the Magic hoped for a boost from their reserves, and they got it. With Augustin once again pushing the pace, the Magic were able to push their lead back up to as many as six. The Pelicans continued to fight and claw, however, cutting the Magic lead back down to two with under two minutes to play. A big bucket from Nikola Vucevic pushed the Magic lead back to four, a lead they would not let falter.

Serge Ibaka led the way for the Magic, finishing with 16 on the night. Evan Fournier struggled with his shot, but finished with 16 of his own, with Augustin and Damjan Rudez each adding 11 off the bench. Vucevic finished the night with a 10-point, 14-rebound double-double, including two big late buckets to seal the win. Aaron Gordon also added 10 points on the night for the Magic.

Terrence Jones, filling in for Davis, led all scorers, finishing with 26 on the night. Langston Galloway scored 15 off the bench, with former Magic man E’Twaun Moore adding 14.