The Orlando Magic withstood a 3-point barrage from the Detroit Pistons with some timely and clutch shooting for their first overtime win of the season.
At first, it was looking like it was going to be smooth sailing into the All-Star Break. But this one was not easy for the Orlando Magic. When is it ever?
In the team’s first overtime game of the season, the Orlando Magic took home a 116-112 victory over a resilient Detroit Pistons team after leading by as many as 22 points in the first half and then coming back from a seven-point deficit in the final five minutes.
The team was led by clutch shooting late by Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic as Gordon made two three-pointers to make the game 101-100 and then tied the game at 103 apiece. Nikola Vucevic made a three-pointer to give the team a lead with just more than five seconds left in regulation. The ball bounced four times on the rim, hanging in the air before finally dropping though.
The Magic thought that would be enough to give them the win.
But Langston Galloway had other plans.
He hit a big-time three of his own with just more than a second remaining to force the game into overtime.
From there, the Magic played with an edge as Markelle Fultz hit a 15-footer to give the team a lead, Evan Fournier hit one of two free throws and a field goal, and then Markelle Fultz iced the game with one of two free throws after Aaron Gordon won a jump ball after a missed three-pointer attempt from Langston Galloway to tie the game.
Fultz was excellent all game long as he finished with 22 points, 10 assists and, most importantly, zero turnovers. He got the game going early with seven quick points in the first four minutes. The Magic made 11 of their first 13 shots, shooting the ball extremely well early and pacing themselves to a 22-point lead into the second quarter.
But the Pistons fought their way back through a career performance from Christian Wood, who finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds. The Pistons shot 45 three-pointers on the night. With the recent trade of Andre Drummond, they had little reason to move the ball into the post, so they let it fly and did it often, making 18 of those 45 tries.
The Pistons finally fought their way into the lead, going on a 15-2 run to start the fourth quarter.
The Magic were down by seven with five minutes to go in the game, but big plays from Gordon sparked a comeback. He finished the game with a team-high 25 points to go along with nine assists and nine rebounds. He was aggressive going to the basket and four of those nine rebounds were offensive.
On the bench, Khem Birch was the backup center in place of Mo Bamba, who did not play after falling ill with the flu. Khem Birch displayed great energy finishing with eight points, all from dunks, as well as a block.
If one was a Magic fan watching this game, this one was very stressful, but for a neutral, this was an entertaining game filled with a little bit of everything. The Magic looked like a team that could fight back and deal with adversity, and the team did that tonight.
MARKELLE FULTZPG, Orlando Magic
He won the point guard battle, and in the end is probably what won the Magic the game. He can disappear at times. But when he has games like this the Magic are reminded of what the future can be when he runs the show on offense and the ball is moving starting with him.
Fultz finished the game with 22 points, 10 assists and five rebounds. He hit eight of his 14 shots. Fultz has gotten into a good habit of establishing himself in the scorebook early which only sets him up to assist. Fans are eager to see more from him.
AARON GORDONF, Orlando Magic
He hit the clutch shots when the Orlando Magic needed a bucket getter. His two threes late in the game might not have been good earlier in the season when he was lacking in confidence. But Gordon is playing at a very high level at the moment.
He only had one turnover in the game and did not force anything on the offensive end tonight. He also had a great shooting night overall, shooting 3 for 4 from three and hitting all six of his free throws. Gordon finished with 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. He is averaging 17.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game in his last 10 games.
NIKOLA VUCEVICC, Orlando Magic
His shot at the end of regulation was obviously a big one. It hit the rim about six or seven times, so it was a fortunate one to go in. But it was one that he and the team needed.
It was his only make from beyond the arc in the game, as he went 1 for 7 from the 3-point line. He did not attempt a free throw, which is a bit of a concern. But again, he was not really challenged by a post presence as his main defender was Thon Maker, who likes to play on the perimeter. It was a solid game from Vucevic who brought what he needed to bring.
MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMSPG, Orlando Magic
The backup point guard also contributed nine rebounds and three assists. He did have five turnovers as he can be careless with the ball. But his value to this team does not come from his offense a lot of the team, but rather what he can do on defense.
Against the Detroit Pistons, he accelerated the progress of the Magic as they stayed hot in the first half with Carter-Williams staying glued to Rose. Had Rose gotten hot, this game probably has a different result, but the Magic won the point guard battle on the first and second unit and that’s what won them the ballgame.
DETROIT PISTONS19-38, 12th East
Detroit got off to a slow start and it looked like the team would get run out of the gym. But the Pistons deserve credit for attacking a Magic defense that started to relax. It is easy to get back into a game when you hit 18 3-pointers. But it is difficult to get them unless the defense is giving them up.
That was made worse only by the energy the Pistons got from Christian Wood (26 points, 12 rebounds), Tony Snell (16 points, 4-for-5 3-point shooting) and Thon Maker (18 points). The Pistons kept fighting and scrapping. They stifled the Magic early in the fourth quarter and made this game feel like the loss to the New York Knicks all over again. This time the Magic rescued themselves just in time.
The Orlando Magic enter the All-Star Break at 24-31. They are two games behind the Brooklyn Nets for seventh in the Eastern Conference and three games ahead of the Washington Wizards for the final spot in the playoffs.
The Orlando Magic will return from the All-Star Break next Friday at home against the Dallas Mavericks.