Magic look to exploit Spurs’ struggling defense

NBA
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The Orlando Magic have played better of late but will face another tough test to maintain momentum when they host the slumping San Antonio Spurs on Friday.

If there’s any good time to play the Spurs, it might be during this stretch when they are struggling on defense.

The Magic won for the second time in a week and just the fourth time this season Wednesday when Nikola Vucevic scored 25 points to lead seven Orlando players in double figures in a 112-97 home victory.

Aaron Gordon had 18 points and 13 rebounds, Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross each had 13 points and D.J. Augustin had 12 points and eight assists off the bench.

Jonathan Isaac also had 12 points and Michael Carter-Williams had 11 for the Magic, who improved to 4-3 at home this season. Vucevic also grabbed 12 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season.

“It was definitely a big win for us,” Carter-Williams said. “To get back in the win column the way we did, playing defense, sharing the ball. Everybody involved was big for us, and we want to build on that.”

Augustin played the entire fourth quarter, in which the Magic outscored the 76ers by a decisive 32-15 margin.

“We know we needed this win tonight in the worst way, and guys had the same attitude on the floor and it showed,” Augustin told the Orlando Sentinel.

Meanwhile, the Spurs lost their third straight, producing another lukewarm performance in a 129-114 defeat Wednesday at Minnesota. San Antonio will play five of its next six games on the road.

It was third time in 11 games this season that San Antonio allowed an opponent 120 or more points.

“I think we’re very challenged defensively,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Another poor outing defensively, and that’s where we’re at. There’s not much more to say.”

DeMar DeRozan led the team with 27 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 points for San Antonio, which finished just 3 for 17 from beyond the arc.

Bryn Forbes had 13, Dejounte Murray scored 11, and Patty Mills and Rudy Gay pumped in 10 points apiece in the loss for the Spurs, who have lost five of their last six games.

“Nobody wants to lose, but I’d rather that we have these mistakes now,” DeRozan said. “We have plenty of time to clean it up. I know for a fact that we definitely will.”

Speaking of DeRozan, there are reports circulating the league that Orlando has expressed interest in trading for the former All-Star, who’s believed to be seeking a max contract extension this summer.

San Antonio owns a 43-18 edge in the all-time series, but 12 of those wins by the Magic have come at home. The Spurs earned their largest win over Orlando in franchise history on Dec. 19, 2018, defeating the Magic 129-90 at the Amway Center.

–Field Level Media

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