Detroit Pistons @ Orlando Magic


The Magic look to get back to their winning ways when they take on the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. The Magic had a disappointing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night. The Pistons, who have been Orlando’s arch-nemesis, have once again given the Magic a lot of trouble this season. The Magic have played three close games with Detroit so far this season, dropping one and using late-game comebacks to win the other two.

The Pistons have not been a very good team this season. They are just 19-33 on the season but they are coming off a 108-85 blowout victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Pistons used a very balanced attack led by rookie Jonas Jerebko’s 21 points to earn the victory. The Magic come into the game with a record of 36-18 and having won 10 of their last 13 games.

The Magic have been excellent at Amway arena, posting a record of 20-5 there. Detroit has been a miserable road team – they’re 6-18 away from the Palace.

Tip-off from the Am scheduled for 7:00 pm EST and you can see the game on FSN. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen to it locally on WDBO AM 580 and in Spanish on WONQ AM 1030.

The Line: Orlando – 11.5



Dwight Howard
Rashard Lewis
Matt Barnes
Vince Carter
Jameer Nelson


Ben Wallace
Jonas Jerebko
Tayshaun Prince
Richard Hamilton
Rodney Stuckey

The Magic and the Pistons have played in three hotly contested battles with the Magic coming out on the winning end of the last two.

The Pistons used great defense (Orlando shot 36.7% from the field) and a high-scoring backcourt (Ben Gordon, Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey combined for 63 of Detroit’s 85 points) to earn a victory and give the Magic their first loss of the season.

The two teams met again three days later in Orlando. The Magic had six players in double figures led by Dwight Howard’s 22 points and held off a late Detroit rally sparked by Charlie Villanueva’s 28 points to win 110-103.

The two teams played again on January 31st and it took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter. Orlando’s offense woke up and their bench (Mickael Pietrus and J.J. Redick combined for 31 points) led them to victory.

The Pistons are a bad offensive team. They score just 92.0 points per game and rank 26th in offensive efficiency.

They get most of their scoring from their perimeter players – guards are four of their top six scorers. That’s usually something Orlando has trouble defending.

Orlando has done a fairly good job of shutting down Detroit’s offense, but they have yet to face a healthy Detroit team. Richard Hamilton missed the first two games against Orlando and when he was finally able to play against the Magic on January 31st, Charlie Villanueva was out with back spasms, but that may not be a big deal considering his minutes have really been limited lately. He has played less minutes for a few reasons. Villanueva has had some moments but his production is down from last season. He’s averaging 13.4 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game this season and is shooting 43.7%. Villanueva has also been extremely inconsistent. The emergence of rookie Jonas Jerebko, who is now averaging 8.8 points per game 5.6 rebounds per game this season. Jerebko, a native of Sweeden, has scored 20 or more twice in his last four games.

Detroit’s defense has been better than their offense but they hardly resemble the great Pistons’ defenses of the last decade. They rank 21st in efficiency and give up 96.4 points per game.

Orlando had had some trouble scoring against Detroit due to their size on the perimeter (namely Stuckey and Prince).

Dwight Howard has also struggled. He has shot the ball well against Detroit (68.4%) but hasn’t gotten enough attempts, averaging just 15.3 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game. He has gotten into foul trouble in each game, fouling out of two of them. The Magic will need Howard to play smart and be aggressive.

The Magic will also have to limit their turnovers and get good penetration from their backcourt. Jameer Nelson looks like he has still not fully recovered from his knee injury and this break probably did more good than anyone.

Orlando’s bench has played well against Detroit but they are in for a tougher task Wednesday night because the Pistons are more healthy than they were in the first three meetings. Orlando’s bench still should be able to match-up with any bench in the league and winning that match-up will be important.

This is a game the Magic should win – Detroit is 14 games below .500, the game is in Orlando and Detroit played Tuesday night. Unfortunately for the Magic, it doesn’t seem to matter who’s playing for the Pistons, when the Magic play the team in blue and red, they are always in for a battle.

(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.)