Pistons 101, Magic 89
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—The latest dreadful performance by the Orlando Magic came with a bit of good news as they wrapped up the inside track to the No. 1 pick in the draft.
The Detroit Pistons jumped out to a big lead early and the Magic never recovered, losing 101-89 Saturday night to drop their 13th straight game and secure the NBA’s worst record.
“We did not start the game with the commitment you need to win a basketball game,” Magic coach Johnny Davis said. “And when you play that way against a good team like Detroit, you put yourself in an awful bind.”
The Magic (19-61) will have the best chance—25 percent—of landing the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft lottery. Their selection can fall no lower than fifth.
Chauncey Billups missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle, but Lindsey Hunter and Mike James combined for 14 of Detroit’s season-best 34 assists filling in for the starting point guard. James had 12 points to go with his eight assists.
Less than eight minutes into the game, the Pistons’ 11th field goal from the paint put the Magic down by 13.
Wallace jogged down, no defender within 20 feet, for a windmill dunk.
Davis, who has seen plenty of lackluster efforts this season, had finally seen enough. He called a timeout—boos from the crowd not quite drowning out Wallace’s jubilant bellowing—and when play resumed, all five Magic starters were on the bench.
The players understood.
“To come out with energy like that, it sent a message like we’ve basically given up, we’re waiting for the season to be over,” forward Juwan Howard said.
Added DeShawn Stevenson: “We weren’t getting in the flow and sometimes the coach has to do that.”
Orlando’s reserves briefly put a charge into the game, cutting the deficit to 27-19 on Reece Gaines’ driving layup. Gaines scored a season-best 14 points, and Stevenson led Orlando with 21—his best since being acquired from Utah in a deadline-day trade.
But Prince made a layup to re-establish a double-digit lead, and kick off a 10-0 run. Within 4 1/2 minutes, Detroit led by 21 and had made 21 of 34 shots with 18 assists.
“We were phenomenal with the way we passed the ball,” Detroit coach Larry Brown said. “I don’t think for 22 minutes you can play any better than the way we played.”
The Pistons stretched the margin to a game-high 26 late in the second quarter, but Orlando scored the half’s final seven points and trailed 56-37 at the break.
The final margin of 12 points was the closest the Magic came in the second half.
The Magic’s losing streak is only their second-longest of the season. Orlando lost 19 straight earlier in the year.
“I know it’s been a long year and a disappointing year, but you still have to be professional,” Davis said. “You still have to play with pride, you still owe it to yourself, your fans and the essence of basketball to come outand perform in a competitive fashion.”
Orlando center Steven Hunter returned from a two-game absence caused by an eye infection. He had four points and four blocked shots. … The Magic dropped their seventh straight home game. Their season worst is 11 straight home losses. … With Detroit leading by 20 entering the fourth quarter, first-round pick Darko Milicic got some garbage time. He grabbed a season-high six rebounds. … Attendance was announced at 15,571, giving the Magic a season turnstile count of 574,377 with one game left. The franchise worst turnout in a41-game season is 576,409, set in 1999-00.