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03/10/2013 10:32 PM EDT
Nelson's 24 helps lift Magic over 76ers, 99-91
ORLANDO 99, PHILADELPHIA 91

By KYLE HIGHTOWER
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Injuries left Orlando Magic point guard
Jameer Nelson as a spectator in each of his team's first two
matchups this season with the Philadelphia 76ers.



In Round 3 the Pennsylvania native reminded the Sixers what his
presence can bring to a game.



Nelson had 24 points and 10 assists, and Nik Vucevic added 14
points and 17 rebounds as the Magic held off the Sixers in the
fourth quarter to secure a 99-91 victory on Sunday night.



The win ended the Magic's seven-game home losing streak, their
longest skid in Orlando since 2003-04. It also gives the Magic
some momentum in advance of the Los Angeles Lakers' visit
Tuesday, which will be Dwight Howard's first return to Orlando
since he was traded this past summer.



As for Sunday, Nelson said that playing against the Sixers
always seems to bring out some of his best basketball.



"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," he said. "But really I just try to help my team
win."



Nelson's effort wasn't lost on his teammates.



"Jameer was huge," Vucevic said. "We need him to do that. He's
the guy who's been here the longest. He knows this league. He's
been to the finals. He's got experience. He knows how to close
games out and we need him to do that."



Arron Afflalo and Tobias Harris added 17 and 15 points,
respectively. The double-double was the 35th of the season for
Vucevic, who was dealt to the Magic by Philadelphia as part of
the multi-team Howard deal.



Thaddeus Young had 26 points and 12 rebounds for the Sixers,
followed by Damien Wilkins with 16 points in his first start of
the season.



The loss was just the latest in what has been a steady decline
by Philadelphia. The Sixers have dropped five straight and 13 in
a row on the road.



"It definitely hurts to go out there and lose basketball games,
but at the end of the day it happens," Young said. "Not every
team is going to have a good season. We just have to try and
take some positives out of it and just keep trying to figure it
out."



After giving Charles Jenkins his first start at shooting guard
on Friday since he came over from Golden State at the trade
deadline, Sixers coach Doug Collins decided to start Wilkins a
small forward and shift Evan Turner to shooting guard on Sunday.



Wilkins made the most of the opportunity, providing an early
lift, knocking down open jumpers and getting baskets in the
lane.



But Harris' second straight start at power forward also helped
give a jolt to the Magic's offense, as he matched baskets with
Philadelphia's Young throughout to help spread out the Sixers'
defense.



"We go through slumps where we don't score," Sixers guard Jrue
Holiday said. "We got up like 10 points on them and they came
back and matched that. There are times we need to go on a
scoring streak and I don't think we had it today."



The Magic led by a point entering the fourth quarter and it
remained tight throughout.



They got a little separation on a 3-pointer by Nelson that gave
the Magic a 91-87 lead with just over 3 minutes to play in the
game.



Trailing 91-89, Holiday had a chance to tie it at the free throw
line, but came up empty on both tries.



Afflalo then knocked down a jumper on the ensuing Magic touch to
stretch their lead to four.



Both teams traded misses before Beno Udrih's picked off a pass
by Wilkins, which eventually led to a 3 from the corner by
Afflalo with less than a minute remaining.



Following a Philadelphia miss, Nelson hit a jumper that made it
98-91 and the Magic closed out the win at the foul line.



"Well, he made some big shots," Collins said. "I felt really bad
for Damien because Damien really played his heart out for him to
throw the ball away at the end. ... I thought we had some guys
play very, very well, but we just have not found a way to finish
games."



Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said he hopes this is the start of his
team protecting home court the rest of the season.



"I have made that a point to our guys," he said. "The fans have
been unbelievable. ... It was good to give them a win. They
deserve it."



Notes: The Magic improved to 13-10 when leading after three
quarters. ... Young recorded his 16th double-double of the
season. ... The unit that opened the game for Philadelphia was
its 13th starting lineup of the season. ... Collins said the
biggest change that he's seen in Vucevic's game since the Sixers
dealt him to the Magic is as simple as him getting more playing
time. "I saw him at draft camp and said, `That's my guy,"'
Collins said. "Skilled, big, strong, and got a good feel for the
game. A great kid. I love Nik. When he got minutes for us last
year he performed very well."



---



Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at
http://www.twitter.com/khightower.

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