Monroe dominates as Pistons beat Magic 105-90

DANA GAURUDER, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons have shown a lot of improvement lately, thanks to the frontcourt trio of Greg Monroe, Jason Maxiell and Andre Drummond.
Detroit's big men were dominant once again in a 105-90 victory over the Orlando Magic Tuesday at The Palace.
Monroe had 16 points and six rebounds while Maxiell and Drummond each contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons (16-25), who have won nine of their last 13. Detroit out-rebounded Orlando 54-41, the seventh time during that 13-game stretch the Pistons have grabbed at least 50 rebounds.
Monroe had 10 of his points in the third quarter, when the Pistons took control by outscoring the Magic 28-14.
"He was fired up in that third quarter," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. "I never look at things from the offensive end. I look at it from the defensive end. Defensively, everyone needs to bring maximum effort. We can't let anything or anyone impact our effort on the defensive end. That's what winning basketball is all about. Greg did a great job of putting defense first in that third quarter and look what happens, everything else opens up."
Brandon Knight had 18 points, Will Bynum added 15 points and Rodney Stuckey chipped in 14. It was the second straight victory in which Detroit had six players in double figures without a 20-point scorer.
"That‘s part of the identity of our team," Pistons guard Kyle Singler said. "There‘s not a lot of games where guys are scoring 20 or 30. Individually, we get a wide variety of points from different players."
Both teams reached the midway point of the season but are headed in opposite directions. The Magic (14-27) has dropped 14 of its last 16, including the last three.
"I thought early we were pretty decent in our post defense," Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. "As the game goes on, their ability to penetrate and get into the lane caused some problems for us, which opened things up for their post players."
J.J. Redick led Orlando with 26 points and Jameer Nelson added 14. but two of its top players had awful nights. Aaron Afflalo, averaging a team-best 17.5 points entering the game, went scoreless in 38 minutes while Glen Davis shot 4-for-16 and scored 11 points.
"I put this loss on me," Davis said. "As a captain, I need to step up and do the necessary things to win a ballgame."
Monroe made just one first-half basket but got rolling in the third quarter, when the Pistons outscored the Magic 28-14. He scored eight of his 10 third-quarter points during a 18-6 run that gave his team a 76-62 lead.
Knight started off the run with a 3-pointer. After two Tayshaun Prince free throws stretched Detroit's lead to 10, Monroe scored eight straight points on an 18-foot jumper, a layup, a hook shot and a dunk off a steal.
Prince's jumper finished off the outburst to give Detroit a 76-62 lead. Drummond then scored the last six points of the quarter on a layup and two dunks.
"At the start of the third quarter, we set the tone down low first," Maxiell said. "Greg got rolling and we passed it out and got open shots. Then (Andre Drummond) came in and set the tone with the ‘D.' He set good screens and rolled to the rim hard and got easy baskets."
When Stuckey converted an alley-oop pass from Will Bynum for another dunk, the Pistons' lead was up to 21, 87-66. Orlando tried a four-guard alignment but never mounted a threat.
Detroit led 54-52 at halftime despite perfect shooting by Redick, who had 17 points on six field goals and a free throw. Maxiell led the Pistons, who committed only two first-half turnovers, with nine points and 11 rebounds.
NOTES: Detroit, which lost twice to Orlando in November, shot 46.2 percent from the field and tied a season-low with eight turnovers. ... Magic reserve center Gustavo Ayon was active after missing the last eight games with a right thigh contusion. He had eight points in 10 minutes ... The Pistons, ranked last in attendance earlier this season, have moved past New Orleans and Sacramento on that list. They were averaging 13,949 fans entering Tuesday's game and drew 11,798 on a bitterly cold night. ... Detroit begins a three-game road trip at Chicago on Wednesday, then heads to Miami on Friday before a fourth and final matchup against Orlando on Sunday. ... The teams have a combined nine rookies on their rosters. ... The Pistons rank second-to-last in steals (6.25 per game) while the Magic is at the bottom (5.85).

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