The Detroit Pistons ended the Orlando Magic's four-game winning streak Monday night, 89-78, behind 26 points from Ben Gordon. The eight-year veteran shot 8-of-15 from the floor and 8-of-9 on free throws in a strong performance, his highest-scoring outing since January 2011. Dwight Howard led Orlando with 19 points, seven rebounds, and five steals. The lethargic Magic, on the second night of a back-to-back, shot just 44.4 percent, allowed 33 free-throw attempts, committed 17 turnovers, and got outrebounded by 11 in defeat.
The Magic appeared to simply un out of energy in the second half, shooting 33.3 percent after a 56.7-percent showing in the first half.
Detroit took the lead for good in the second half when Gordon drilled two free throws at the 6:16 mark. Orlando never drew closer than three points over the game's final quarter-plus.
Though the Pistons played sloppily, committing 18 turnovers of their own, they managed to maintain their energy and compete harder throughout the game. Orlando couldn't keep up, and got badly outplayed by an objectively inferior team for the second consecutive night.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's 2010/11 average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's 2010/11 average.
Monday's result, coupled with the team's poor performance for much of their 102-96 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, raises questions about the Magic's standing among the league's top teams. Is their recent unimpressive play indicative of a flawed roster? Is the team merely struggling because it's playing its third back-to-back set in eight days? Orlando's just six games into a 66-game season, so it's difficult to answer with any certainty.
What's clear is that the team needs more offense from its backcourt if it's to remain competitive. Starting guards Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson combined for eight points on 2-of-10 shooting; Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon, their counterparts, put up 40 on 10-of-23 from the floor.
The Magic can rebound Wednesday when they take on the Washington Wizards, the league's only remaining winless team, at Amway Center.