The Orlando Magic remained competitive with the Detroit Pistons in Tuesday's game for a half, but ultimately fell by a 105-90 final for their 14th loss in their last 16 games. J.J. Redick, in his fifth start of the season and his first since November 19th, scored a game-high 26 points on 9-of-10 shooting, but his efficient play was Orlando's lone bright spot as the hot Pistons--Tuesday's win was their ninth in their last 13--picked it apart after halftime.
Detroit took control of the game in the third quarter, during which it doubled-up the Magic, 28-14. Orlando, which shot 51.2 percent in the fist half, went just 7-of-17 in the third quarter with no free-throw attempts. Gustavo Ayón accounted for three of Orlando's baskets with easy layups right at the rim, but it's a sad comment on the state of the Magic that if Ayón wasn't getting open inside, they didn't have many good looks.
An 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter put Orlando in an 87-66 hole and effectively sealed the win for Detroit. Magic coach Jacque Vaughn toyed with his lineup in order to engineer a comeback attempt, surrounding center Nik Vučević and later Glen Davis with two point guards and two swingmen, but that gambit failed. Vaughn also tried Josh McRoberts at center in that alignment. He would ultimately empty his bench with 4:06 to go and his team trailing by 18 points.
Moving Redick to the starting lineup paid dividends initially, thanks in large part to Redick himself: the Duke product shot 4-of-4 in the first quarter to help Orlando build an 11-point lead. But when he headed to the bench with 3:22 remaining in the period, Detroit went on a 15-3 run to take a one-point lead. In that span, Orlando shot 1-of-7 from the floor. Without Redick to key it, the second unit struggled to create shots, and the Magic turned to Davis to generate offense. He did not answer that call effectively, finishing with 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
Redick's move to the starting lineup and subsequent hot shooting had a strange effect on Arron Afflalo, the Magic's leading scorer on the season. He did not attempt a shot in the first half, instead working as a facilitator. Even with the shot-clock winding down, Afflalo first looked to set up his teammates for spot-up opportunities. Though his unselfishness is commendable to a degree, Afflalo's primary responsibility on this team is to score. He didn't attempt his first basket until the 2:33 mark of the third quarter, when he missed a pullup 17-footer off the bounce. In 42 minutes, Afflalo went scoreless on three shot attempts, but he did contribute nine rebounds and five assists with no turnovers.
The Pistons led by two at halftime despite shooting just 40.4 percent from the floor. The reason for their success: foul shooting. Detroit attempted 14 free throws before intermission, sinking 11. Jason Maxiell and Monroe combined to shoot 9-of-11 from the stripe. The pair picked on Andrew Nicholson in particular, as the rookie picked up four fouls in 11 first-half minutes; Monroe and Maxiell drew three of those four fouls.