AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Jameer Nelson had seen enough.
Too many easy layups by the Detroit Pistons. Too many easy dunks.
Nelson said so during a timeout with the Orlando Magic behind 75-65 with 2:40 left in the third quarter Friday. He told his teammates that he didn't like their body language and that everyone needed to play tougher.
They complied. The Magic, who had trailed by as many as 13 points, beat the Pistons 110-106 in front an announced crowd of 11,594 at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
"He's our leader," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "There no doubt about that. He's a captain. He's a leader in the locker room. He orchestrates things on the floor. He gathers guys in timeouts and gets them straight, and that's what a point guard is supposed to do."
J.J. Redick scored a team-high 23 points, including a 3-pointer that put Orlando up 104-102 with 42.8 seconds left. Redick inbounded the ball to Nik Vucevic, who passed the ball back to Redick and set a screen that gave Redick space for a jumper from the left corner.
"It was something that we had worked on and had gotten good looks from in practice," Redick said. "[Glen Big] Baby [Davis] runs a little misdirection. They bit on it, and Nik made a great pass. If anything, Jacque needs the credit on that one. He drew up a great play."
With the win, the Magic snapped a five-game losing streak and avoided their first six-game losing streak since Feb. 26-March 6, 2006.
How much of a relief was it?
"Huge," Davis said.
Nelson, playing his first game since he strained his groin and hamstring in the season-opener on Nov. 2, scored 13 points — all in the second half — and dished out 10 assists as he committed just one turnover.
"It's big for us to win a game down the stretch like that and to be down 10 or 13 points late in the game in the second half and get stops when we needed them and score when we needed to," Nelson said.
"It was impressive. I knew we could do it. We just had to do it."
For a while, it looked like the Pistons (1-9) would win by double digits over the Magic (3-5).
Center Greg Monroe encountered little resistance for most of the game, scoring a team-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting.
In all, the Pistons finished with 64 points in the paint as they shredded the Magic's interior defense.
That's what upset Nelson.
As Vaughn and his assistant coaches huddled amongst themselves near the top of the key with 2:40 left in the third quarter, Nelson spoke to his teammates.
"The energy that Jameer brought at that moment just hit everybody," Davis said. "It got Nik going. It got us all going, and that's what it's about. He's a leader. He's one of the leaders on this team, and he affects our team in that way."
When Vaughn and his assistant coaches finished their huddle and started to walk to join their players at the bench, Vaughn let Nelson speak.
"There are times in the games where it's not meant for a coach to say anything," Vaughn said. "It's for a player who's out there playing, who's getting hit, who understands what's going on in the flow of the game. And he did a great job of rallying our guys and bringing them in together to play down the stretch."
Nelson also helped steady his teammates down the stretch and avoid the fourth-quarter struggles that had hindered the Magic in losses to the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks.
"It's big on the road," Nelson said. "It's tough to win any NBA game, but on the road, it's tougher."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun