For the first time in the Jacque Vaughn era as head coach, the Orlando Magic found themselves in a close game. They responded by pulling out an 110-106 win against the Detroit Pistons to pick up their first road win of the season and to snap their five-game losing streak. The Magic trailed by as many as 13 points in the third period, but battled back after receiving a tongue-lashing from co-captain Jameer Nelson.
Sideline reporter Dante Marchitelli said Nelson urged his teammates to improve their body language and to take pride in their defense. The Magic responded by holding the Pistons scoreless over the final 2:40 of the period, and the sequence included an Andrew Nicholson block of a Greg Monroe dunk attempt and two steals.
But the Pistons held their own in the fourth period, drawing to within a point on a monstrous, and-one dunk by Jason Maxiell. Rookie swingman Kyle Singler scored two free throws on Detroit's next possession--which he started by stealing an errant Jameer Nelson pass--to give the Pistons a one-point edge.
But the Magic took the lead for good off a beautiful misdirection play when J.J. Redick and Glen Davis worked together to trick Singler into cutting the middle off to Redick. The veteran guard instead cut back toward the corner and took a pass from Vucevic to drain the three, putting the Magic up two with 42.8 seconds remaining.
Redick led the Magic in scoring with 23 points, and each of his cohorts in the starting lineup scored in double-figures as well. Nelson, Vucevic, and Davis each tallied double-doubles, while four of Orlando's five reserves scored at least six points.
Orlando made an 8-0 run to start the second period to take a 30-25 lead, but otherwise the Magic didn't take advantage of the Pistons' second unit.
Tayshaun Prince scored six points to open the third quarter to put the Pistons up by 10 points. The 11-year veteran continues to bedevil the Magic even as he enters the twilight years of his career, but his dominance of Orlando makes sense: the Magic don't have a player who can match Prince's size on the wing, so he was able to hit his turnaround jumpers and hooks without much interference, despite the best efforts of Arron Afflalo.
Though the Magic were able to execute their offense reasonably well for much of the night, the story was the easy time the Pistons had scoring. Detroit, which ranks 23rd in the league in offensive efficiency, carved Orlando up with its interior game.
One could say that same energy carried over into the fourth quarter were it not for an interlude wherein Vaughn called on his second unit in order to give his starters a rest. The Pistons scored four easy hoops against this fivesome, prompting Vaughn to go back to his starters with 10:01 to play.