The Detroit Pistons are just starting to pull themselves out of a deep funk and turned up the defense to grab wins in the last two games - both on the road. The Pistons will try to put together a similar effort in front of their own fans and snap a three-game home losing streak when they host the Orlando Magic on Sunday.
Detroit’s offense still isn’t where it wants to be, and it went cold during the fourth quarter on Friday at Indiana before the Pistons managed to gut out a 104-98 win in the final seconds. “I think to be good – and you see this even with a team as good as Golden State – you’ve got to be able to win different ways,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters. “Some nights it’s a little tougher. When you have a tough fourth quarter, you’ve got to be able to grind it out. The fact you can win with your offense going and then you can win with your defense grinding it out I think is a good thing.” The Magic are having a difficult time grinding out wins and are enduring a string of four consecutive losses. Orlando was 8-4 through the first 12 games before dropping 15 of its last 18 contests and is dealing with a string of injuries to key players.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, FS Florida (Orlando), FS Detroit
ABOUT THE MAGIC (11-19): Orlando got starting power forward Aaron Gordon back from a concussion on Friday only to lose him in the fourth quarter to a calf injury, but small forward Jonathan Simmons was not ready to use any excuses after the 95-88 home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. “We just need to focus a little better as a whole group and play a little harder,” Simmons told reporters. “We just have to play more together and pay more attention to detail of the opponents. We can’t wait until the fourth quarter to start because they were already controlling the game. We have to play 48 minutes.” Simmons is one of the few to take the court for all 30 games this season and is averaging a career-best 15.2 points.
ABOUT THE PISTONS (16-13): Detroit averaged 87.7 points during the last three games of its seven-game slide to begin December, and a big reason for the lack of offense was the minimal offensive production from center Andre Drummond. The 24-year-old totaled 19 points on 4-of-18 shooting in the last three setbacks before beginning to pull out of the funk with 12 points in a win at Atlanta and 23 on 9-of-14 shooting at Indiana on Friday. “When adversity struck, we did what we do best – we continued to fight,” Drummond told reporters after Friday’s triumph. “A great win. This is a great team here in Indiana. They always give us a good fight, but we got the best of them tonight so I’m real excited about the win.”
1. Pistons SF Tobias Harris went 2-of-14 from the floor on Friday and is shooting 32.2 percent over the last five games.
2. Magic SG Evan Fournier (ankle) sat out the last four games and is doubtful for Sunday.
3. Orlando took three of the four meetings last season, including a 98-92 win at Detroit on Dec. 4, 2016.
PREDICTION: Pistons 109, Magic 93