The Magic have won three straight for the first time since starting the season 4-0.
And their latest victory, a 105-96 win over the Pistons, was mostly thanks to two players.....
Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier tonight: pic.twitter.com/zltnweEQmJ— Orlando Pinstriped Post (@OPPMagicBlog) February 22, 2021
Evan Fournier, after scoring 13 first-quarter points against the Warriors on Friday, scored 12 in the game’s opening seven minutes againt the Pistons. He connected on his first three shots, the last of which was a banked-in three that gave the Magic a 21-11 lead with 5:11 remaining in the quarter. Nikola Vucevic, who the Pistons elected to defend with single coverage by Mason Plumlee, scored 11 in the first quarter, including a three-point play after Steve Clifford challenged what was initially called a charge. Vooch (5-for-8 shooting) and Fournier accounted for all but five of the Magic’s first quarter points as Orlando shot 50 percent from the field in the opening quarter.
The Magic second unit allowed the Pistons to close the quarter on an 11-2 run to make it a one-possession game at 28-26 heading into the second.
Terrence Ross got in on the scoring act in the second as the efficient shooting, ball movement and trips to the line continued for the Magic. Ross scored 10 in the quarter, as the Magic’s top three scorers went on to tally 44 of the team’s 56 points in the first half. Fournier had 16, Vucevic had 15 and Ross had 13 as Orlando shot 48.6% from the field in the first half and connected on 16 of 18 from the free-throw line.
Jerami Grant, who like Vucevic is an All-Star hopeful, had 13 first-half points for the Pistons, who were limited to 36 percent shooting in the half as they struggled from long range (5-for-21). The Magic led 56-48 at the half, and would have been up even more had they done a better job on the boards. The Pistons had six offensive rebounds that generated seven points, while the Magic were held without an offensive rebound in the half.
Fournier continued putting up points in bunches in the third, scoring seven points in the first 2:39 of the third to increase the Magic lead to 65-53. Dennis Smith Jr. hit a pair of threes to make it 65-59. Out of a Magic timeout, Fournier responded with a three (and the to teams continued trading three-pointers with Saddiq Bey connecting, followed by Vucevic, followed by Grant).
Al-Farouq Aminu, who made his first start of the season for the Magic, became the first player other than Fournier or Vooch to score a second-half point when he converted a three-point play with 6:11 left in the third to make it 74-65. That was part of a 13-2 run that put the Magic up 81-67 with 3:26 to go. But with Fournier and Vucevic on the bench, the Pistons closed the quarter on a 9-2 run, capped by Josh Jackson splitting three Magic defenders in transition for a layup just before the buzzer as the Pistons cut the Magic lead to 83-76.
The Pistons lingered, but the Magic maintained a double-digit lead for the majority of the fourth quarter. That was thanks largely to Vucevic, who scored 15 in the quarter, including six straight points after Detroit had pulled within seven with 3:30 left.
Vooch flirted with yet another 40-point game, which would have been his third in the month of February, but he finished with 37 points on 14-for-27 shooting and 11 rebounds. Fournier had 29 points, hitting 12 of his 13 free throws to eclipse the season-high 28 points he scored just two days prior. Fournier also had 7 of the Magic’s 24 assists (on 35 field goals). Ross added 17 for the Magic, who shot 43.2%.
It was another strong defensive performance for the Magic, who held the Pistons to 37.4% shooting.
The Magic have now won four of their last five games. They’ll look to make it four straight wins when they host these same Pistons on Tuesday night.