After running the Philadelphia 76ers out of the building on Friday night, the Orlando Magic continued their five game road trip in Detroit against the Pistons. The Magic offense got things going early, and the defense stepped up late, knocking off the Pistons 98-92.
Early on, the Magic defense struggled with the Pistons hot long-range shooting, notably from Marcus Morris who knocked down a set of three-pointers in the opening half of the quarter. Orlando’s offense went through their typical inconsistencies, with players trying to do everything one-on-one, rather than trying to find something in the flow of the offense. Serge Ibaka got things going early, scoring 10 points to keep the Magic offense afloat through their pockets of inconsistency. After one, the Magic trailed the host Pistons by four, 27-23.
Turning to the bench, the Magic got things going in a big way. Behind 12 points from Jeff Green, and seven points from Jodie Meeks, the Magic offense found space and consistency in their ball and player movement, taking advantage of the Pistons lack of rim protection with Andre Drummond on the bench. Following a Tobias Harris dunk that put the Pistons up three, the Magic went on a 17-6 run to end the quarter, capped off by a Nikola Vucevic jumper. At the half, the Magic, thanks to a strong second quarter offensively, led the Pistons by eight, 58-50.
Out of halftime, the Magic saw almost a repeat of the first quarter. After pushing the lead to double digits on their first possessions, the Magic gave up a quick 9-0 run to let the Pistons right back into the game. Through pockets of inconsistent play on both ends, the Magic were able to do just enough to answer anything that the Pistons threw at them, pushing the lead back to double digits before giving up an 8-2 run to end the quarter. Despite the shaky finish, the Magic still held a slight five point lead, 78-73, heading to the fourth.
With the chance to notch their third win in four games, the Magic, one of the better fourth quarter teams in the league, turned things up defensively. Led by Ibaka’s high activity, Orlando’s defense slowed the Pistons the whole quarter, giving up just 11 points in the first 12 minutes. With strong play defensively, the offense continued it’s hot play, pushing the league to as many as 13, a lead they would not give up.
Ibaka led the way for the Magic, flirting with a 5-by-5, finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and blocks and three steals. Nikola Vucevic continued his strong play off the bench, finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds. Green added 14, including a big bucket late, with D.J. Augustin finishing with 12 of his own.
Marcus Morris made five three-pointers, one off his career-high, en route to a team-high 21 points. Reggie Jackson, making his season debut, finished with 18, with former Magic man Tobias Harris finishing with 11. Andre Drummond rounded out Pistons in double figures with 10 points and 10 rebounds.