The Orlando Magic battled back from an early deficit against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, using defense to fuel transition offense in their 87-86 win. Detroit built a nine-point lead in the first quarter, but Orlando's offense found its rhythm as the second period began, taking a one-point lead at the 8:13 mark of the quarter on an E'Twaun Moore layup; it didn't trail again until 56 remained in the game as Detroit responded to a tongue-lashing from coach Maurice Cheeks. The fact that Cheeks stuck with his starting group deep into the fourth quarter, whereas Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn elected to use his fringe players, also aided Detroit's comeback.
A layup from Pistons big man Greg Monroe put Detroit up by a point with 56 seconds to go, but Orlando answered with a layup from Kyle O`Quinn at the 38-second mark. Coming out of a timeout, big-money free-agent acquisition Josh Smith bricked a three-pointer and O'Quinn got the board. The Magic missed two shots on the ensuing possession, but camp invitee Solomon Jones, who made his first start of the preseason, fought to keep the ball alive and knocked it out of bounds off Detroit with 1.6 seconds to go. An intentional foul sent Ronnie Price, making his Magic début, to the foul line. The veteran point guard missed both free throws and Andre Drummond rebounded as time expired.
The referees reviewed and ruled that Detroit should have possession with 0.1 seconds to play. Pistons rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope lobbed the ball away, giving Orlando the victory.
The Pistons scored just nine points in the second frame, shooting 4-of-15 from the floor with 11 turnovers which resulted in nine Orlando points. Seven of those turnovers were the result of Magic steals, and they converted three of them into baskets. The Pistons were playing shorthanded, starting, in Peyton Siva, a second-round Draft pick without a guaranteed deal at point guard. Siva did not respond well to the Magic's pressuring perimeter defense which unit Victor Oladipo and Price led.
For Orlando, Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless led the charge offensively. Harris, who sat out the Magic's last two losses due to a sore ankle, had 13 points in 16 minutes on an efficient 5-of-7 shooting from the floor, but had to leave the game with 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter after a collision battling for a rebound. The Magic removed him from the game immediately and later said he had soreness in his left ankle.
Early foul trouble bedeviled Harkless, who picked up three personals in the first two minutes and eight seconds of the game. He rebounded from that poor start to finish with 11 points in 21 minutes.
Moore came alive after halftime, scoring 12 of his 14 points after intermission, including all seven Orlando points in a 7-2 run just as the third quarter began. He replaced Arron Afflalo, who started at shooting guard but logged just six first-half minutes, in the second half.
Oladipo, starting at point guard in relief of Jameer Nelson, who had the night off, did not shoot well. The Indiana product went 4-of-14 from the floor for eight points, but he contributed in other ways with six rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. The tone he set defensively against Siva was key to Orlando's victory.
The road portion of the Magic's exhibition schedule comes to a close Tuesday as the team makes its second trip to Texas in as many weeks; Orlando's opponent that night will be the San Antonio Spurs.