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Hard work pays off for Dewayne Dedmon in Magic's win over Bulls

Dewayne Dedmon was a big spark for the Magic, and got them going early and often in their win.

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

When the injury bug hits a team, that team has to dig deep and find big contributions from unlikely sources.

For the Orlando Magic, that came by the way of Dewayne Dedmon on Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls.

Getting his tenth consecutive start due to a lingering groin injury to Nikola Vucevic, Dedmon shined, leading the Magic in points (18) and rebounds (13) against a struggling Bulls team. The performance, which came on the heels of a 10-point, six-rebound effort on Friday night in Miami, was needed for a sliding Magic bunch.

Following the game, Dedmon joked that it was the first time he's ever led a team in scoring, but that it was a good feeling.

The third-year big man was also very pleased with the fact he was able to make such a big impact on the game early on. "It's definitely a good feeling," he said. "Any time someone is finding you, and the ball is moving well... It's definitely a good feeling."

The high-energy big man got the Magic going early with a set of easy buckets, helping lead to 10 opening quarter points. His energy and finishing, along with Elfrid Payton's heightened driving saw the Magic jump out to a double digit lead that they would not relinquish.

"It's always important to bring energy, it's what I do," said Dedmon. "Just to be able to come out and just provide energy and just help out and the ball was falling for me tonight. So, it worked out."

Coach Scott Skiles was pleased with how his starting center played. "Well, he was just really active. He was on the board. He got some opportunities that sometimes he might not normally get; he was able to finish them.

"Some games he plays he just doesn't get many opportunities based on the way the other team is guarding or whatever, but tonight he got some and was able to put them in."

Evan Fournier, who had an overall quite night finishing with 12 points, was happy for his teammate.

"Dewayne definitely plays hard every single game. That's not even a question; that's what he does. I was really happy for him to actually get some touched and get some tip dunks because it feels really good to be rewarded after a hard effort."

That fact that Dedmon was able to come in and have the performance he did speaks volumes for the amount of work he puts in.

Not seeing consistent playing time throughout the season, Dedmon has continued to work on his game, mainly his shooting. The USC product has been working with Magic shooting coach Dave Love, who's worked exclusively with Aaron Gordon and Payton as well, which has instilled confidence in the big man.

"It's [working with coach Love] has helped a lot," said Dedmon. "I've put in a lot of work this summer. To come out and show it off is definitely good."

The former NBA D-Leaguer also requested to be sent down to play a game with the Magic's affiliate, the Erie BayHawks. Dedmon shined in that game, scoring 17 points and grabbing 23 rebounds. That game gave him confidence and was a big stepping stone for him to continue his development.

With nine games remaining, Dedmon knows that the games are important not only for himself, but for his team. "Every game is important," he said. "Every time you get an opportunity, everyones watching. So, to get this opportunity not that Vooch is kind of injured right now, just to be able to start and bring the energy and just kind of show off what I can do."

Dedmon added that it was gratifying to have his teammates to have kind words about his performance. "It definitely feels good," he said.

"It shows that the hard work is paying off. It definitely feels good."