The Orlando Magic's crushing defeat against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday was one of the stranger games of their season. Orlando had soundly beaten the Pistons twice before Tuesday's game, but that night, they looked lost and thoroughly unmotivated.
Of particular note was Arron Afflalo's performance. The team's leading scorer on the season, Afflalo went scoreless in 42 minutes, took just four shots, and didn't attempt his first shot until late in the third quarter. Afflalo is ordinarily a fiery competitor, one who takes losing hard and who has made clear the Magic's goal is to make the playoffs. So why was he so passive against the Pistons, one of his former teams?
The only explanation Afflalo offered: "It was just a tough night." There has to be more to the story than that. Orlando has lost 14 of its last 16 games and, at 14-27, has nearly two losses for each of its wins. The season's been full of tough nights. What in particular made Tuesday so difficult for Orlando's leading scorer?
Brian Schmitz's theory is that Afflalo was "pouting" or making "a protest" of some kind. Perhaps he was displeased with coach Jacque Vaughn's decision to move him to small forward so he could slot J.J. Redick at shooting guard in the starting five.
Whatever the reason for Afflalo's poor performance on Tuesday, Orlando cannot return to its winning ways if he isn't attacking opposing defenses and looking for his own shot.