The Orlando Magic continue to have a crowded injury list, but the team welcomed back two key members of their rotation when they hosted the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
Jameer Nelson returned to the starting lineup after he sat out two games with a sore left hip. Gustavo Ayón came off the bench late in the first quarter after a right quadriceps bruise forced him to miss one game.
The Magic started Wednesday with an 11-11 record in games Nelson played and a 1-8 record in games without him.
"I know when you have guys who've been in the league, when they're out, it's tougher to win," Nelson said. "The young guys, they're still trying to figure it out. They're doing a good job for us and are playing their roles well, but there's a lot of learning that they have still to go."
The Magic started the day 0-6 without injured power forward Glen Davis.
"We can't afford to have anybody out," shooting guard Arron Afflalo said.
On Orlando's first two possessions Wednesday, Nelson scored on a 20-foot jumper and a 26-foot jumper.
E'Twaun Moore remains thankful that his collision with the Washington Wizards' Cartier Martin last Friday left him with only a sprained left elbow instead of a broken left arm.
Moore didn't play against the Bulls on Wednesday, but he said he's making progress. His arm hasn't been in a sling or a brace.
"It's definitely getting better," Moore said. "I'm able to move it without as much pain."
Nik Vucevic's 20-point, 29-rebound performance against the Miami Heat continued to generate buzz Wednesday.
According to Stats Inc., Vucevic became just the seventh player to score at least 20 points, grab at least 25 rebounds, generate at least three steals and block at least two shots in a game since the 1986-87 season.
The others to do it were: Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Roy Tarpley, Dennis Rodman, Chris Webber and Dwight Howard.
Webber, Howard and Vucevic are the only players since 2000 who have accomplished the feat.
Text messages inundated Vucevic's cell phone after the game, especially from his former coaches and teammates at Southern Cal.
Vucevic's father, Borislav Vucevic, played 24 years of professional basketball in Europe and played on Yugoslavia's national team. He watches all of the Magic's games via the Internet.
Borislav usually critiques his son after every game, and they spoke again after the Heat matchup.
"That was maybe the first time in a long time he didn't really have anything bad to say," Nik said. "He was just like, 'Good job.' "
Growing up in Europe, Nik looked up to Michael Jordan and loved to wear Jordan-brand Nike apparel.
These days, he's wearing a line of LeBron James shoes produced by Nike.
After Miami beat Orlando 112-110 in overtime, James took Vucevic aside and complimented him.
"It means a lot for my confidence going forward," Vucevic said. "It'll make me work harder."
• Jacque Vaughn employed a starting lineup of Nelson, Afflalo, DeQuan Jones, Andrew Nicholson and Vucevic. It was the Magic's 13th different starting lineup in 32 games this season.
• Bulls center and UF alumnus Joakim Noah sat out against the Magic because he has flu symptoms. With Noah out, Tom Thibodeau started Taj Gibson at center.
• Afflalo scored at least 20 points in four of Orlando's previous six games entering the matchup against Chicago.
• Ayón wore a football-style thigh pad over his sore quadriceps to protect him from further injury.
• The Magic made baskets on each of their first six possessions.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times