Bench Leads Magic to Win Over Pistons


The Orlando Magic played well early and took a 25-10 lead, but the Detroit Pistons fought back by getting close looks at the basket and outrebounding the Magic. The Magic struggled on offense but played good defense in the second half and closed out the Pistons for their third consecutive win. J.J. Redick led the Magic with 17 points while Dwight Howard had 16 points and 15 rebounds. Rodney Stuckey had 18 points to lead the Pistons.

The Magic got off to a quick start. They scored the game’s first six games and built a 25-10 lead by the 5:01 mark. During the run, the Magic did a good job of getting the ball to Dwight Howard. He scored the game’s first two points on two free throws and then showed off the diversity in his offensive game. He hit a Tim Duncan style jump shot and made a fairly long (by his standards) running hook shot. Howard had nine points in the first quarter. Rashard Lewis matched that output with nine points of his own on three three-pointers. Matt Barnes had five points after making two tough baskets on plays he was fouled on and also threw a lob to Vince Carter for a dunk. The Pistons ended the quarter on an 11-4 run giving Orlando a 29-21 lead after one.

The second quarter was not kind to the Magic. First of all, we learned of Jameer Nelson’s knee injury. The quarter was back-and-fourth the first eight-and-a-half minutes. At that point, Mickael Pietrus made a three-pointer to give Orlando a 48-36 lead but the Pistons scored the quarter’s final nine points to cut the lead to 48-45 at halftime. The Magic were outrebounded 12-9 in the quarter and turned the ball over five times after turning it over just twice in the first quarter. Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis, who combined to score 18 points in the first period, did not score in the quarter. Rodney Stucky and Jonas Jerebko had 10 points to lead the Pistons at halftime.

The Pistons opened the third quarter on a 14-4 run and took a 59-52 lead. The Pistons continued to get good looks inside and that opened up the three point line – their run was capped by back-to-back three-pointers from Richard Hamilton and Jonas Jerebko. The Magic would answer, outscoring the Pistons 12-6 for the rest of the period and cutting the lead to 65-64 heading into the final quarter. The Magic shot just 6-of-17. The Magic’s defense did play better, holding the Pistons to just 6-of-22 shooting in the period.

The Magic continued to play good defense in the final period. They forced some tough shots and scored the first five points of the period. Orlando increased their lead to as large as five at 78-73, but it didn’t last long because Detroit tied the game with a 6-1 run. Mickael Pietrus hit a three-pointer to break the tie with 3:32 to play but appeared to injure his ankle on the play and did not return. Rashard Lewis’ layup extended the lead back to five but the Pistons scored the next four points. With just 1:15 to go, J.J. Redick noticed that Richard Hamilton was all over him and threw up a three-pointer drawing a foul. He hit all three free throws. Tayshaun Prince got a wide open three to cut the lead back to one and after Anthony Johnson missed a runner, the Pistons got the ball back. Hamilton and Gordon both got good looks at the basket but they couldn’t convert. After Rashard Lewis hit two free throws, Gordon’s pass was intercepted by Anthony Johnson and he hit two free throws to close out Orlando’s 91-86 victory.


The Magic won this game with defense. After jumping out to a 15-point lead, the Pistons dominated the class and got some easy shots at the basket. The Magic held the Pistons to just 14-of-42 in the second half and scored 41 second half points. For the game, the Pistons shot an effective field goal percentage of just 42.4%. For the most part, Orlando held Detroit’s guards in check. Rodney Stuckey, Richard Hamilton and Ben Gordon combined to shoot 11-of-36 from the field. The Magic had some trouble defending the paint, allowing the Pistons to score 36 points there, but they defended it much better in the second half.

Offensively, the Magic didn’t shoot the ball that well from the field (30-of-64, 46.9%), but had one of their best three-point shooting night in terms of percentage, in a while. They went 10-of-22 from beyond the arc. Orlando got heavy contributions from their bench. The bench combined to score 47 points. Mickael Pietrus, who has recently been shooting very poorly, went 4-of-5 from beyond the three-point line and scored 14 points. Anthony Johnson and Jason Williams did a good job filling in for an injured Jameer Nelson. They scored a combined 10 points, dished out 7 assists and did not turn the ball over once. J.J. Redick was the real star for the Magic. He scored 17 points and scored six crucial points down stretch. His three-pointer with 8:52 to go broke a 69-69 tie and his three straight free throws gave the Magic a four-point lead with 1:15 to play. Redick had eight fourth quarter points.

The Magic went to Dwight Howard early and he scored nine first quarter points on 3-of-5 shooting but he took just four shots over the next three quarters and finished the game with 16 points. Detroit’s rebounding dominance did not affect Howard – he still finished with 15 rebounds.

Rashard Lewis also scored nine points in the first quarter but also like Howard, Lewis only took four shots over the next three quarters. He did make them count – Lewis scored six fourth quarter points. What Lewis lacked in scoring, he made up for in other ways. He had seven rebounds and four assists.

Vince Carter was noticeably absent for the entire fourth quarter. And with good reason. Carter scored just two points on 1-of-8 shooting and picked up four fouls. Plus, Orlando’s backup wing players, J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus had excellent games. Carter played just 19 minutes.

Game Notes:

  • It looked like the Magic made an improvement in the turnover department turning it over just twice in the first quarter, but they still finished with 14 turnovers.
  • The Magic were dominated on the boards for most of the night but outrebounded the Pistons 9-6 in the final quarter.
  • The Magic scored just 26 points in the paint.
  • Orlando did not have a good night at the free throw line – they were just 21-of-32.
  • Orlando had 15 fast break points to Detroit’s 10.
  • Read more about Jameer Nelson’s injury here.
  • The win means that Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy will be coaching in the All-Star game.

Next Up: The Magic return home to face the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night. The Magic are 2-0 against the Bucks this season.

Final Thought: The Magic had to win ugly but they came back from being seven down in the second half (after blowing their own 15-point lead) and got a win in a building that has not been very kind to them.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)