Wrapping up another abysmal season, the Orlando Magic capped it off with a victory over the Detroit Pistons, 113-109.
The Magic came out of the gates look like the Houston Rockets, shooting three-pointer after three-pointer early on. After Evan Fournier sunk one to extend the teams streak of consecutive games made with a three-pointer to 820, the Magic made five of their next eight in the quarter. Aaron Gordon electrified the crowd late in the quarter with a monster dunk on former teammate Tobias Harris, and almost sunk a half court shot to end the quarter.
The Magic are 5/7 from three in the first eight minutes tonight. So, apparently they were taken over by the Rockets.— Zach Oliver (@ZachOliverNBA) April 13, 2017
Unlike Monday night’s drubbing at the hands of the Chicago Bulls, the Magic starters were good. Very good, in fact, holding Detroit to a mere 17 first quarter points. However, in a not-so-shocking turn of events, the Magic bench was, in fact, bad like usual, letting the Pistons get space left and right, letting them cut the once 21 point lead to 14 early in the second. Detroit cut the lead to as few as 12 on multiple occasions, before an Andre Drummond put pack brought them within 10 at halftime, 59-49.
After halftime, the good Magic reappeared, with the starters once again having their way against Detroit’s disinterested group. If not for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shooting everything in sight, and turning into Michael Jordan, the Magic would’ve run away and hid and everyone would’ve been happy. But, no, the soon-to-be free agent had to keep the Pistons in it by knocking down three’s and getting to the foul line left and right.
Suddenly, the tank became all too real for the Magic again, with Detroit suddenly hitting on all cylinders. Shots stopped falling, and the Pistons kept making, not just Caldwell-Pope, but also former Magic superstar reserve guard Ish Smith because of course he did. Oh, and Reggie Bullock who, I think everyone, including Reggie Bullock, forgot was still in the league.
Mario Hezonja tried to do a one man fast break at the end of the quarter too and it... Well... It ended poorly.
Tobias Harris on that Mario Hezonja drive: pic.twitter.com/GONeGvh8vP— Orlando Magic Daily (@OMagicDaily) April 13, 2017
The best thing that happened on the night, however, was a family making a series of shots, including a half court shot, to win something. What they won is unknown, but one of the kids swished the half court shot majestically like he was Stephen Curry on his first shot. Maybe the Magic should sign him this summer...
Back to actual basketball players being payed to play and the bad Magic were back! The bench came in and, well, struggled with the Pistons early in the fourth, seeing their lead cut down to one in the opening minute and a half. Henry Ellenson, who we also forgot was in the league, tied the game after being fouled by Hezonja shooting a three.
Things didn’t get better, prompting Frank Vogel to put Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton back in the game for whatever reason. Maybe the fact Gordon had been the Magic’s best player all night played a role in that, but with nothing to play for, why risk the injury?
It didn’t really matter, because the Magic couldn’t have stopped a toddler learning how to crawl in the fourth quarter. The Magic were struggling so much that they turned to a lineup featuring Gordon playing center... Against Boban Marjanovic who is like four people in one. It looked like he might’ve eaten Stephen Zimmerman if the rookie was on the court any longer.
Gordon tied the game with a pair of free throws, pushing himself up over 30 points yet again. Hezonja, after a rare Magic stop, came back and made a three to give the Magic the lead again with under five minutes to play. Gordon looked to take over, but both teams missed shot... after shot... after shot.. Until Gordon made a driving layup to put the Magic up three with under three minutes to play.
Marjanovic and Zimmerman once again battled, with the Detroit giant once again getting the better end of the deal, tying the game up with an old fashioned three point play. Zimmerman, naturally, got him back two possessions later scoring his first bucket of the game to push the Magic back in front. Former Magic great Tobias Harris missed a pair of free throws, but not to worry, Boban was there to eat Zimmerman’s lunch again, leading to another three point play.
Down one, Elfrid Payton made a quick pull up to put the Magic back in front of a loud Amway Center crowd. Payton followed it up with two more buckets to put the Magic up five, seemingly clinching the season ending victory. A three from someone who plays for the Pistons forced Marcus Georges-Hunt to make a pair of free throws to win the game... and he did.
Gordon finished with 32 points and 12 rebounds. Payton finished with 21 points and 13 assists. The Magic young guys came up big on the night.