Culture of Hoops

Detroit Pistons too big for Orlando Magic

Image courtesy of Erik Daniel Drost/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Erik Daniel Drost/Flickr.

The Orlando Magic looked to shake away the memory of their hard-fought loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday and start fresh in Detroit. Anthony Davis did a number against the Magic and had one of the best games of his young career. Tonight, Orlando faced yet another up-and-coming big man in Andre Drummond. Detroit has a bevy of frontcourt players to pair with Drummond including Greg Monroe and newly acquired Josh Smith. Because of their talent up front, Detroit is one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA. With Nik Vucevic still out of the lineup, rebounding was a point of emphasis for coach Jacque Vaughn, and he decided to give Jason Maxiell the nod in the starting rotation in place of Victor Oladipo. Jason Maxiell played his entire career in Detroit before coming to Orlando this year in free agency and last night was his first time returning to the Palace of Auburn Hills. Arron Afflalo also started his career with the Pistons when he was drafted 27th overall in the 2007 draft.

Immediately following the tip it was apparent the Magic were outmatched in size and strength. Drummond was off to a quick start connecting on a couple of alley-oops and creating turnovers on the defensive end. Much of Detroit’s success in the early going was due to fast break points off forced turnovers. What benefited Orlando most in the first quarter was not as much what they did well, but how the Pistons hurt themselves. Brandon Jennings continuously hoisted up jumper after jumper, finishing 0-for-6 from the field by the end of the period.

The rest of the half lacked offense from both sides but the contest remained tight. Coaches Maurice Cheeks and Jacque Vaughn decided to leave their second units on the floor for extended periods of time. It wasn’t that either team was playing exceptional defense, but more a lack of effort and very little ball movement. It was obvious Vaughn was looking for a better performance from his bench last night after a miserable outing on Sunday. E’Twaun Moore was in the game early and often, possibly because he recorded his career-high 18 points against this Pistons team last year.

Eventually, the first team squads found their way to the court and Detroit began a short run in which Josh Smith was able to string together a few long two-point field goals. Brandon Jennings was even able to finally sink a shot after nine attempts, opening up a 10-point lead going into halftime.

On came the second half and Jennings kept chucking up shots. This inefficient play is a large reason Orlando was able to stay in the game as Detroit was playing shutdown defense and dominating the boards. When the Pistons were finally able to pry the ball out of Jennings’ hands, they put together a 9-0 run to open up a 15-point lead with three minutes left in the third quarter.

Going into the fourth and final period, the Pistons led by 18 and were not looking to let that lead go. Unsuccessful at home as of late, Detroit had lost eight of its last nine home games coming into the night, so recording a win for the fans was of great importance for the Pistons squad. Lucky for them the Magic could not get anything going on the offensive end and the lead ballooned to 25 points midway through the quarter. For every shot he missed in the first three quarters, it looked like Brandon Jennings made one in the fourth. He came into the game with three consecutive scoring outputs of 26 or more points, good for third among active players behind only Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. That streak would end, however, as Jennings was pulled early (after dropping 20 points) due to the large lead.

It was the balanced attack from Detroit that led to the 103-87 win. They had five players in double figures and even had their deeper bench players get on the board in rare playing time. Victor Oladipo was the high man for the Magic with 19 points, most of which came too late to really make much of a difference in the game.

Magic Game Notes

Pistons control the boards

It was a point of emphasis for Orlando going into the game, but that did not make any difference. The Pistons out-rebounded the Magic by 16, 56-40. It was clear the Magic’s top rebounder, Vucevic, was missed as Maxiell just could not fill the void. Much of this dominance came at the hands of second-year center Andre Drummond, who tallied 17 rebounds to go with his 13 points. Greg Monroe also contributed with 11 rebounds of his own.

Orlando’s offensive woes

From tip-off until the final buzzer sounded, the Magic could not get anything going on the offensive end. Orlando’s top scorer, Victor Oladipo, scored 14 of his 19 points in garbage time against the last men off the Pistons bench. The energy level dropped off and Vaughn was unable to find a spark to ignite the offense and salvage a win. You know it’s a bad offensive night when the game is lost by 26 points despite committing the same amount of turnovers as the opponent.

New lineup improves bench but hurts chemistry

Jacque Vaughn decided to give Maxiell the start in place of Oladipo. This move effectively improved the overall bench play, especially when compared to the atrocious eight-point performance against the Pelicans. The move was about matchups as the Pistons roll with a big and strong squad. Unfortunately for the Magic, the team did not play the same way and it may have contributed to the poor offensive performance.

Stat of the Night

Brandon Jennings started the night 1-for-7 from the field, and then made six of his last seven shots.

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