Unfortunately on the night of lacklustre effort, a loss muted Nikola Vucevic’s celebration, being selected for his second All-Star appearance. Simply put Orlando could not find their game.
DETROIT PISTONS 105-93 ORLANDO MAGIC
THE OPENING QUARTER
Al-Farouq Aminu opened Orlando’s scoring with a corner jump shot for three.
Dennis Smith Jr got off to a nice start for Detroit as they took an early lead.
Orlando’s offensive play was not functioning well. The second time All-Star Nikola Vucevic got his first points of the game in the seventh minute. Orlando were neither shooting the ball well nor taking care of it as turnovers mounted.
The bench rotated in and in slightly over 2 minutes of play had equalled the starting unit’s eleven points.
Chasson Randle raced the floor to beat the buzzer for a tough two points to close the quarter. The Magic trailed by 10 with the scoreboard reading 34-24
INTO THE SECOND QUARTER
An improved defensive focus from the bench unit continued into the second as Michael Carter-Williams and Aminu returned. That saw Orlando slowly cut the lead to 2 at 36-34.
Detroit again pushed on, extending the lead out to double digits on the back of some excellent play from rookie Saben Lee for his 13 points.
Signs that Orlando were finding their feet came with just over 5 minutes of the quarter remaining as Evan Fournier drove, spun to pass to a trailing Vucevic to hit his first three of the night. Fournier on the next play hit a huge three showing his range.
Orlando held its breath as Nikola Vucevic heavily limped from the court into the locker room with a 3 minutes of the half remaining.
Chuma Okeke had hit a pair of three’s to see Orlando trail 53-51 at the half.
Terrence Ross had been important in getting the Magic back into the game, having 10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
Saben Lee led the Pistons. Jerami Grant had been a non-factor in the half with only 4 points having been in foul trouble.
THE THIRD QUARTER
Vooch had returned to start the third.
James Ennis opened the quarter’s scoring but Orlando were struggling offensively still, not getting consistent contributions from either Vooch or Fournier.
It saw Detroit pull away to a double digit lead again. Orlando had gone cold from the three in the quarter. The game was not an easy watch and lacking in any form of excitement.
The quarter was summed up in the final play, sloppy Orlando offence saw a steal from which Detroit scored, extending the lead to 14 points. 79-65.
INTO THE FOURTH
Detroit started the final quarter with a 3 point play on another Isaiah Stewart effort in the paint. The 19 year old Canadian was taking all of Orlando’s defensive effort to keep him contained.
Orlando’s first made three of the second half came with 8:54 of the quarter remaining.
Detroit coach Dwayne Casey was showing faith in a very young line-up and they were repaying him. The largest lead of the night at 20 points resulted.
As the game closed on a night of lacklustre effort Orlando found a couple of shots to make the score closer than the game actually was.
THE FINAL SCORE – 105-93
ON THE NIGHT
Orlando’s season record is now 13-19, remaining 12th in the East.
Too many fouls, turnovers and missed free throws did for Orlando on the night. The team had no rhythm and looked tired from the start. It does beg the question why once again Mo Bamba did not feature? Could he have made a positive impact? I certainly doubt he’d have made us worse!
The offensive play was disjointed all night. Vucevic led Orlando with 20 points, Fournier 14, Ross 13 and Carter Williams 11. Chasson Randle had 9 points, which is a scoring high with the team.
Despite the team record you have to praise the job that Dwayne Casey is doing. On the night his belief in his young core of players got the result. Saben Lee led Detroit with 21 points, Josh Jackson 18 points and Saddiq Bey had 10 points. Isaiah Stewart gave the sort of all effort contribution that does not reflect on a stat line but is a huge bonus to a team. It is also good to see Dennis Smith Jr rebuilding his confidence and career after being cast aside in. New York.
A deserved result and well played to Detroit.
MOVING ON FROM A NIGHT OF LACKLUSTRE EFFORT
We now travel to the marauding Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night. They are on a 7 game winning streak and are without several key players including Kevin Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie and Timothy Luwawu-Caberrot.