Magic ride 2nd-half run to 90-74 win over PistonsBy KYLE HIGHTOWER, Associated Press Wednesday, Nov 21, 2012
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—In its first matchup with Detroit last week, Orlando survived a bruising effort by the Pistons’ big men and made just enough shots down the stretch to grind out a tough road win.
For Round 2, the Magic didn’t have to sweat as much. This time, they got all the help they needed from the Pistons.
“I didn’t think we shot particularly well, but we played well together,” said Magic guard J.J. Redick who finished with 11 points.
For a Magic team struggling to find itself amid key injuries, a youthful roster and a brand new system, it was a needed spark during a challenging first month.
“I think it was just great concentration coming out of halftime and guys were focused and it showed,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said.
Orlando struggled to compete with Detroit’s big men early, but used the third-quarter spurt to blow open the game. The surge included a more than 10-minute scoring drought by the Pistons.
Greg Monroe scored 19 points and Rodney Stuckey added 13 for Detroit, which connected on just 28 of its 85 field goal attempts for the night. For the second half alone, the Pistons were a dismal 8 of 44, or 18 percent.
The Magic stopped a two-game losing streak. They continue a five-game homestand Friday against Cleveland.
The Pistons lost to the Magic for the second time in a week. They return home Friday to host Toronto.
“I wish I could explain it to you,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. “I didn’t like the way we played there and then to open the third quarter was embarrassing.”
Detroit led 48-45 entering the third quarter, but went ice cold from the field, missing its first 15 shots and committing five turnovers to allow Orlando to take a 66-48 lead.
The Pistons finally got their first points of the quarter on a pair of free throws by Stuckey, but didn’t end their field goal drought until the 1:59 mark.
“They have been executing coming down the stretch,” Monroe said of the Magic in their two meetings this season. “I think we lost our focus and what we need to do to win games … the things that have happened these last couple of games is on us.”
Frank said after the Magic trimmed what had been a 10-point edge to single digits late in the first half, “we had no energy to start.”
Gone, too, was the inside presence they depend on.
“We lost it, we just lost,” Frank said. “Once they hit us we just lost our poise.”
The Magic got points from all over the place during the game-changing run, including some open 3-pointers and easy layups.
Point guard Jameer Nelson was a non-factor in Orlando’s loss at Atlanta earlier in the week as he recovered from an illness. He showed little effects of that Wednesday, though, posting a balanced 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
An exasperated Frank pulled all his starters at one point during the Magic’s onslaught and when the reserves couldn’t stop it, he subbed for some of them.
Detroit finished the period with eight points, just besting its franchise-low mark of six points in a quarter. For the Magic, it tied a franchise mark for fewest points allowed in a third quarter.
The Magic’s lead reached 20 in the opening minutes of the final period as the Pistons never were able to rekindle any semblance of their early offensive flow.
Looking for a better matchup with 6-foot-9 Pistons small forward Tayshaun Prince Vaughn gave rookie Maurice Harkless his first start career start at that spot. The shift allowed Arron Afflalo to move back to his natural shooting guard spot.
Harkless’ speed did give the veteran fits at times in half court, and in turn opened up the court for his teammates on offense as the Pistons had to respect his ability to get to the rim.
It didn’t seem like it would be an easy night for Orlando in the early going, though.
The Pistons took a three-point lead into the break, dominating the Magic for the second straight game in the front court.
Detroit scored 32 of its 48 points in the opening 24 minutes in the paint, led by Monroe’s 15.
Orlando fell into a 23-13 hole late in the first quarter, before using a 16-6 run to tie it 29.
The spurt, punctuated by a fast-break dunk by Harkless, featured 10 points from the Magic’s young contingent of first- and second-year players.
The most active was Nicholson, who finished the half with 10 points to lead all Magic scorers.
With four games at home before going back on the road, the word of the week for the Magic will remain what it’s been all season: consistency.
“That’s the key for us, we have to become a better transition team,” Afflalo said. “And the only way we’re going to do that is to start getting stops. That was very welcoming to see for us to put together a defensive effort like that. That kind of allowed us to dictate the game a little bit.
“So hopefully we can carry that over.”
Notes: The 74 points were the fewest the Pistons have scored this season. … Prince briefly left the game late in the first quarter after banging knees with another player. … The eight points allowed by the Magic in the third quarter was the fewest they’ve allowed in third quarter since 1999 at New Jersey.