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Pistons 103, Magic 96: Magic surrender pair of double-digit leads in loss

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Orlando built double-digit leads in the first and third but couldn’t hold on

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Magic led by 15 with 1:25 to go in the first quarter. The score was tied with 9:51 left in the second.

The Magic led by 11 with 3:22 to go in the third quarter. The score was tied with 11:19 left in the fourth quarter.

Those quickly surrendered double-digit leads denied the Magic an opportunity to win a third consecutive game, something they accomplished just twice all of last season, as they fell to the Pistons, 103-96.

The Magic early on looked well on their way to that three-game winning streak third as they forced the Pistons into seven turnovers when they opened a 15-point lead in the first quarter. Evan Fournier picked up where he left off with his game-winner by scoring 11 points in the first. Terrence Ross came off the bench to score eight points in about three minutes, including a four-point play. His jumper with 1:25 left in the first gave the Magic a 31-16 lead.

But the Pistons closed the quarter on a 10-run, capped by a turnaround three at the buzzer that was banked in by Andre Drummond to pull within 31-26.

The run was extended to 17-0 in the second quarter, giving the Pistons a 33-31 advantage. Their lead, thanks to the Pistons managing to beat the Magic on the fast break and getting to the free throw line, would increase to 10 before they went into the break ahead 58-51.

The Magic answered in the third with a 9-0 run on a pair of three by D.J. Augustin and another by Evan Fournier to take 60-58 lead. A hook shot by Aaron Gordon sparked a 12-1 run by the Magic that gave them a 78-67 lead, re-establishing the double-digit lead they squandered in the first quarter.

But the Pistons again closed the quarter strong, finishing on an 11-2 run, capped by a buzzer-beater by Ish Smith.

A three-point barrage by Stanley Johnson (13 points) and Langston Galloway (12 points), helped the Pistons maintain the lead in the fourth...as did the Magic committing nine turnovers and scoring just 16 points in the quarter. The Magic did cut the lead to 94-93 with just under three minutes left on this incredible alley-opp by Aaron Gordon, who paid homage to Karl Malone by putting one hand on his head...

From there, the Pistons pulled away, snapping a five-game losing streak.

The difference in the game was on the offensive glass (13 offensive boards for the Pistons, who lead the league in the category) and at the free throw line, where the Pistons made 18 of 20 attempts and the Magic mustered just nine attempts, making seven. The Magic’s sloppiness with the ball led to 20 turnovers, though the Pistons did their best to match them with 19.

Fournier finished with 27 points on 12 of 19 shooting to lead all scorers. Despite his hot hand, he was held out for what seemed like unusually prolonged stretches and played 31 minutes. Curious to hear Steve Clifford’s reasoning on that considering the Magic got little production from their reserves outside of Ross. Ross finished with 15 points, accounting for all but five points of the Magic’s bench scoring.

Gordon had 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Magic, who shot 46 percent from the field, including 33.3 percent from three (9 of 27). Augustin had 16 points and seven assists and Nikola Vucevic added 14 points and nine rebounds.

Drummond, who had a double-double in the first half with 19 points and 12 rebounds, finished with 23 points and 19 rebounds. Griffin had 20 points and five rebounds and Reggie Jackson added 15 points.

The Magic look to start a new winning streak on Friday when they host old friend Dwight Howard and the Wizards.