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Magic 116, Pistons 112: Magic surrender big lead, fall behind, come back for crucial overtime win

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Aaron Gordon led the Magic comeback, helping avoid a crushing loss before the All-Star break

Detroit Pistons v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Aaron Gordon of late is showing that he is more than just a dunker.

With the Magic set for the All-Star break, during which AG will once again seek that elusive Dunk Contest trophy, Gordon showcased an all-around game that helped the Magic avoid what would have been a crushing loss.

The Magic went from up 22, to down 7, to overtime. Gordon had some late-game heroics and finished with 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists to lead the Magic to a 116-112 win over the Pistons.

Early on, the Magic’s thee-point shooting carried over from their win over the Hawks, in which they made a season-high 18 threes. The Magic moved the ball, assisting on 9 of their first 11 buckets and making 11 of their first 13 shot attempts, including their first four three-point attempts. The Orlando defense also forced nine turnovers in the quarter, which the Magic converted into 11 points.

The Magic offense cooled off late in the quarter, missing six of their final seven shots, but Orlando still led 32-20 after the first, with Aaron Gordon serving as playmaker with four early assists. Markelle Fultz, on 4-for-5 shooting, scored nine in the quarter to lead a balanced attack.

Khem Birch, getting back-up duties with Mo Bamba out with the flu, scored the first six points of the second for the Magic, all on dunks. Evan Fournier scored eight in the quarter as the Magic lead grew to 22 points. The Pistons then began taking and making open threes, hitting seven triples in the quarter. They closed the quarter on an 11-2 run over the final two minutes to go into halftime trailing just 59-55.

Detroit evened it up at 75 midway through the third on a three by Tony Snell. The Magic regained the lead and went into the fourth up 87-81.

Orlando went without a field goal over the first six minutes of the fourth quarter as the Pistons went on an 13-0 run to take their first lead since early in the first quarter. A step-back three by Markieff Morris pushed the Pistons’ lead to 94-89 with 6:58 remaining and Thon Maker capped the run with a floater for a seven-point advantage.

The Magic got their first field goal of the fourth with just under six minutes remaining on a jumper by Fultz.

With the Magic down by six, Gordon hit two free throws and followed with a straightaway three cut the Pistons lead to one with 3:06 left. After the Pistons went back up by three, Gordon hit another three to even the score at 103 with just over one minute remaining.

The Magic took a timeout with the score tied at 105 (the same ref who missed Steve Clifford’s timeout in New York was late in recognizing this timeout, as well). Vucevic, who missed his first six threes, finally got one to fall after it rattled around the rim and in with 5.5 seconds left.

Out of a timeout, Langston Gallaway came around what what a non-call on a moving screen and hit an open straightaway three to tie it at 108 with two seconds left and force the Magic’s first overtime of the season.

The two teams traded buckets until Fournier found a cutting Vooch for the lay-in that put the Magic up 114-112 with 40.8 seconds left.

After Fournier added a free throw, Gallaway again got open and got a great look from nearly the same spot as his tying three in the fourth but missed.

Gordon had a great all-around game to help the Magic avoid a loss that would have festered for a week before they were back on the court. He attacked early, establishing an inside game, and when the Pistons D responded by backing off to deny penetration, he made them pay with the outside shot or by finding the open man. Seven of his nine assists came in the first half. Over his last seven games, Gordon is averaging 19.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists while shooting 45.4 percent, including 41.2 percent from three.

Fultz also had a strong all-around game with 22 points, 10 assists and five rebounds whil playing a carer-high 39 minutes. For the second consecutive game, Fultz did not have a turnover.

Vucevic, despite struggling from the field, added 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Fournier had 19 points. Terrence Ross had a miserable night from the field, missing in big moments during the Magic’s comeback. He went 2-for-12 from the field, making just 1 of 9 three-point attempts, for five points in 36 minutes. The Magic overall shot 45.8 percent from the field, going 12 for 36 from three (33.3 percent), and assisted on 34 of 44 baskets.

Christian Wood had 26 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons, who went 18-for-45 from three (40 percent) but also had 20 turnovers.

The Magic head into the All-Star break having won two-straight to improve their record to 24-31. Their next game won’t be until Feb. 21 when they host the Dallas Mavericks. In the meantime, Gordon will look to bring some hardware back to Orlando...