ORLANDO, Fla. -- Nikola Vucevic has had better games, and even better stretches, during his five seasons in the NBA, but he never has felt this good about his play.
Winning just makes everything better.
Vucevic had a season-high 28 points, along with eight rebounds and a career-high seven assists to lead the Orlando Magic to a 104-89 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans Monday night.
"I've put up good numbers before. I put some good games together last season, but it didn't feel the same," Vucevic said. "We're winning now, and that changes everything. When you're losing, the numbers don't mean anything. Now they do."
Vucevic hit 14 of his 21 shots. He scored on mid-range jumpers, drives and hooks shots, showing the improvement that has made one of the best centers in the Eastern Conference.
"He's got it all going now," Magic coach Scott Skiles said. "And he's playing at a high level. We're going to him a lot, and he's delivering."
The Magic (18-13) won 20, 23 and 25 games in the previous three seasons, now looking like one of the league's most improved teams. They have won six of their last eight and have the best record (12-5) in the East since they started their surge Nov. 25.
Magic guard Evan Fournier had 20 points and hit three of his four shots from 3-point range. Forward Tobias Harris had 14 points and nine rebounds, and reserve forward Andrew Nicholson had 13 points in 21 minutes.
Anthony Davis led the Pelicans (10-21) with 20 points and eight rebounds.
The Magic shot 54.9 percent from the field, their fourth consecutive game shooting better than 50 percent. Vucevic scored more than 20 points for the sixth consecutive game. He is averaging 17.3 points - two points less than last season - but he feels so much better.
"I'm playing with much more confidence, just trying to make the right plays," he said. "My teammates are always in the right spots, which makes it easier for everyone. This just feels good right now."
The Magic never trailed in the second half, and the Pelicans never got closer than 11 points in the fourth period.
Pelicans reserve guard Norris Cole had 17 points and eight rebounds, and guard Tyreke Evans had 16 points and eight assists. Guard Eric Gordon, who had a game-high 26 points in a Pelicans' victory Saturday, had just three points and didn't score until the final period Monday.
The Pelicans had won three of their previous four games, losing only to Miami in overtime. But they were hardly a factor in the second half Monday.
"They got into us. They were physical with us, and we didn't handle it," Pelicins coach Alvin Gentry said. "And it was an uphill battle from there. Vucevic is one of the best centers in the league right now. They're a good team."
Davis hit nine of his 16 shots, but no other starter shot better than 50 percent from the field. They made only five of 20 3-point shots. The Magic made seven of 17.
"They just played harder than us," Davis said. "They played like they wanted to win. We kind of didn't do that. Everybody just needs to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you play hard. We're just out there playing right now, and that's not good enough."
The Magic opened a 15-point lead late in the third quarter, but the Pelicans closed it to 11 by the start of the fourth.
Vucevic had 16 points by halftime when the Magic led 50-46. Fournier hit both his 3-point attempts and scored 13 points in the first half.
Davis had 14 points before intermission when the Pelicans shot 55 percent (11 of 20) from the field. They were hurt early by poor free throw shooting (1 of 6) and seven turnovers in the first two periods.
The Magic scored the first nine points of the game, getting back-to-back 3-pointers from forward Channing Frye and Fournier. The Pelicans led by as many as four in the first half when the lead changed hands six times. Cole scored 11 points in the second quarter to keep it close.
Magic guard Elfrid Payton left the game limping in the first period when he reinjured a sore ankle, but he returned in the second quarter and continued playing.
NOTES: Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry wasn't bashful about his praise of Magic coach Scott Skiles and the job he has done in his first season in Orlando. "Anyone who knows Scott Skiles knows his team is going to play with the intensity of a Game 7 in the NBA Finals," Gentry said before Monday's game. "Scott has done as good a job as anyone in the league from where his team was last season." ... Since Nov. 25, the Magic are 11-5, best record of any team in the Eastern Conference in that span. ... The Magic beat the Pelicans Nov. 3 in New Orleans, but F Anthony Davis made only three of 14 shots for only 14 points. ... Pelicans G Eric Gordon was coming off the finest shooting game of his career when he hit 10 of 12 shots and six of eight from 3-point range in the victory over Houston two nights earlier. He became the first NBA player since 2007 to hit at least 80 percent of his shots while attempting at least 12 field goals, and also hitting at least 75 percent of his 3-point shots with at least eight attempts. ... Entering Monday's action, Pelicans G Tyreke Evans was one of only two NBA players averaging at least 15.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. The other is Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City.