Magic Dominate Fourth Quarter in Blowout of Pistons

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The Orlando Magic finally got a blowout victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. So far this season, the Magic have struggled with the Pistons. On Wednesday, the Magic kept building double digit leads but had trouble holding the lead until a big fourth quarter closed out the victory. That’s when the Magic used a 33-14 run to put the finishing touches on a 116-91 victory. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 33 points, 17 rebounds, seven blocks and three assists and Vince Carter had 20 points in the victory. Richard Hamilton scored a season-high 36 points on 12-of-18 shooting but it was not enough.

Orlando came out a little sluggish, but seemed to shake it off after the first two minutes of the game. They trailed 7-2 but quickly erased that deficit with eight straight points. The Magic shot lights out in the quarter shooting 64% from the field. However, Orlando didn’t do a very good job defending Richard Hamilton. Hamilton was 5-of-6 from the field and scored 15 points. The rest of the Pistons were just 5-of-14 from the field but that was enough to keep Detroit within five at 30-25. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 10 points and made a tip-in at the buzzer.

The Magic’s defensive struggles continued in the second quarter. After building a 40-28 lead, the Magic quickly let it slip away. Detroit went on a 24-11 run to take a 52-51 lead. The Magic were able to get back into the lead on a Dwight Howard free throw with just 6.5 seconds to go and head into the half up one. Detroit shot 10-of-24 from the field but benefited from 14 free throw attempts (making 11) in the quarter. Detroit held a 22-15 rebounding edge and grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the first half. The Magic bench provided most of the second quarter offense combining to score 17 of Orlando’s 26 second quarter points. Dwight Howard had 15 points at the break while Richard Hamilton led all scorers with 22 points.

The third quarter started just like the second. Orlando started the quarter on an 18-7 run and pushed their lead to 12, but the Magic, as they’ve struggled to do all season, just couldn’t put Detroit away. The Magic went back up 12 with 3:07 to play in the quarter only to see Detroit cut the lead back to six at the end of the quarter. Orlando did play better defense in the quarter – they held Detroit to 8-of-20 shooting and 22 points increasing their halftime lead from one to six. Dwight Howard had eight points, seven rebounds and five blocks in the quarter.

The Magic dominated the final period. Orlando held Detroit scoreless from the 10:57 mark to the 7:24 mark and took a 12-point lead. After Detroit cut the lead to nine, Orlando ended the game on a 20-4 run. They outscored the Pistons 33-14 in the period. The Magic shot 10-of-21 from the field in the period and went 10-of-11 from the free throw line. Detroit shot just 6-of-16 from the field in the period. Dwight Howard scored 10 more points in the quarter before the Magic emptied the bench to close out the 116-91 victory.

NBA

Dwight Howard was fantastic on Wednesday night. Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy summed up his performance:

"“I thought, clearly, Dwight was unbelievable…33, 17 and seven. One turnover. You can’t play a much better basketball game than he played tonight.”"

Howard played pretty well throughout the first half but he really turned it up in the second. Howard helped turn Orlando’s defense around in the third quarter – he blocked five of his seven shots in that period. Howard wouldn’t let the Pistons get the rim after the Magic has some letdowns in the paint in the first half. Detroit scored 22 points in the paint in the first half but managed just 12 in the second half. Even when Detroit did get into the paint, Howard altered their shot – Detroit was 17-of-40 on shots in the paint.

Magic Shooting Guard Vince Carter commented on Howard’s performance.

"“Yeah, I’ve been there (having to deal with Howard in the paint). When he gets rolling on both ends, he’s a tough guy. He’s tough to defend and he’s tough to play against as far as getting into the paint. You worry about beating your man and his timing is unbelievable and it helps us get extra possessions.”"

Although Howard is always a defensive monster, his offense seems to just keep getting better. Howard made great decisions with the ball tonight and had excellent shot selection. He shot 11-of-16 from the field, had three assists and had two other surprising statistics that really contributed to his big game. Howard turned the ball over just once and shot 11-of-13 from the free throw line.

Pistons Guard Will Bynum thought that Dwight Howard carried Orlando to victory.

"“It is tough especially when he’s making free throws and dominating the paint defensively. He pretty much put the team on his back and willed them to this win.”"

Carter and his his fellow starting guard, Jameer Nelson, had very efficient games. Carter scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and had four assists with zero turnovers. Carter’s shot selection was excellent. It looked like it could be a very good night for Carter from the get-go because on the opening possession,  he drove to the basket for a dunk. After the game, Carter told reporters that he just took what he could get on the first play.

"“It was just open. It was one of those ones that I was going to shoot it because I was wide open but there was a lane so I decided to go in.”"

Carter said that plays like that can really get a team going early on.

"“I think it kind of set the tone for us in itself. My goal is to always come out and be aggressive and be effective and it kind of works hand-in-hand.”"

Jameer Nelson was just as good. He scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and was very aggressive getting into the paint. Nelson dished out nine assists and turned the ball over just once.

Van Gundy was very happy with the play of his guards.

"“I thought, again, our guards, I though offensively played very, very well tonight. Made shots, 13 assists and one turnover for our starting guards, shooting the ball well. I thought they were very, very good tonight.”"

Game Notes:

  • Orlando’s bench outscored Detroit’s 32-13.
  • The last time an NBA player had at least 30 points, 17 rebounds and and seven blocks before Dwight Howard did it tonight was exactly one year ago when Howard had 45 points, 19 rebounds and eight blocks against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
  • Howard moved into third place on Orlando’s all-time scoring list.
  • Vince Carter is averaging 22.1 points per game in February.
  • Richard Hamilton was 12-of-18 from the field. The rest of the Pistons were just 22-of-62 (35.5%)
  • Orlando outrebounded Detroit 25-17 in the second half.
  • The Magic had just 11 turnovers to Detroit’s 15.

Next up: The Magic host the new-look Dallas Mavericks on ESPN Friday night.

Final Thought: It always feels good to beat the Pistons.

(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.)