Last night saw a solid but unexciting performance by Orlando to beat Detroit in the Amway. For Orlando the result was the needed one as they seek to build on the win streak they have began.
BEFORE THE TIP
The Magic again had a different starting line-up as Al-Farouq Aminu joined James Ennis III, Nikola Vucevic, Michael Carter-Williams and Evan Fournier. That left Chasson Randle, Khem Birch, Terrence Ross, Mo Bamba, Chuma Okeke, Gary Clark and Dwayne Bacon to come from the bench.
For the Pistons starting guard Delon Wright was unavailable so Dennis Smith Jr opened the game.
THE OPENING QUARTER
Jerami Grant opened the game’s scoring with a jump shot from the top of the arc for two. Neither team opened the game shooting well. The opening 6 minutes of play saw scoring coming from the expected sources of Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier the Magic, with Grant, Mason Plumlee and Wayne Ellington for Detroit.
Orlando were contesting on defence hard and not giving Saddiq Bey any space when shooting from three.
As Terrence Ross checked into the game on the 6 minutes mark he was immediately involved as Evan Fournier fed a bounce pass through to Ross on the wing, who hit an open three taking Orlando out to an 11-18 lead.
Yet again Coach Clifford used his challenge early on a poor offensive foul call on a Vucevic score. The successful challenge saw a made bucket counted and Vooch knock down the subsequent free throw. It was Coach Clifford 10th successful challenge of the season in 13 made.
With Vooch and Fournier off the floor and the bench units on Detroit began to cut into the Magic lead. By the close Orlando led 26-28, but what was an 11 point lead was down to 2.
INTO THE SECOND QUARTER
The return of Michael Carter-Williams to start the second saw improved play at the guard position. Terrence Ross hit 5 quick points from MCW’s play to see the scoreboard get moving again.
In the opening few minutes of the quarter defence was king for both teams, seeing scoring at a premium.
A 9 point Orlando lead was quickly cut by consecutive threes from Svi Mykhailiuk. Coach Clifford responded with a timeout to slow the Pistons.
The Magic response was a 6 point run. Baskets were exchanged as the score slowly climbed.
By the close of the half the score read 48-56, Orlando leading by 8 points.
The Magic had not registered a single second chance point, a very surprising stat for one of the NBA’s best offensive rebounding teams.
Evan Fournier had 16 points, Nikola Vucevic 15 points and Terrence Ross 13 points.
THE THIRD QUARTER
Orlando’s starting unit took to the court to open the second half.
Service was resumed with a two from Vucevic and a corner three from Fournier to extend the score to 48-61.
For Detroit Dennis Smith Jr saw a pair of threes drop to peg the Magic lead back to 6. Fournier responded with a three, before Saddiq Bey hit his third three of the night.
The Piston three ball was hot as Jerami Grant hit a long ball to cut the lead to three. Vooch immediately responded as the three pointers continued to drop.
Al-Farouq Aminu got three “the old fashioned way” to take the score out to 65-74 with 6 minutes of the quarter played.
As the quarter played out the gap fluctuated slightly seeing the quarter close at 76-83 to Orlando. As the title says this was proving to be a solid but unexciting performance by Orlando.
INTO THE FOURTH
Dwayne Bacon opened the quarter with a three that he needed. The pattern of the late third continued through the fourth quarter with baskets exchanged and fouls being called.
Slowly Orlando extended a lead out to double digits, built on another night of strong defensive play.
Vooch was continuing to give Mason Plumlee a tough night.
A quarter lacking any real excitement came to a close for a third consecutive Magic win.
THE FINAL SCORE – 96-105
ON THE NIGHT
Orlando’s season record is now 13-18, remaining 12th in the East. The East is very tight with Boston sitting 6th with a 15-15 record.
It was a solid win against a struggling team, but not near the heights we have recently played at.
Nikola Vucevic had his 22nd double-double of the season, with a 37 point haul.
Evan Fournier scored another season high as he hit 29 points.
Terrence Ross led the bench with a 17 point scoring performance.
They were the only players to make double digit scoring.
MOVING ON FROM A SOLID BUT UNEXCITING PERFORMANCE
We play Detroit again in the Amway on Tuesday night. More of the same will be required to register a fourth consecutive win. But as a fan please could we have a little more to cheer about!