Magic halt nine-game skid with win over Pistons
ORLANDO, Fla. — Getting healthy sure can make a difference.
With their two leading scorers, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier, back in the lineup together for the first time in three weeks, the Orlando Magic drilled the Detroit Pistons 102-89 and snapped a nine-game losing streak Thursday night.
“Getting those guys back was a huge lift,” Magic point guard Elfrid Payton said. “Nobody likes to lose like we’ve been losing. It’s a relief. And it’s a big lift.”
Payton led the Magic with 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, benefiting from the return of leading scorer Gordon and second-leading scorer Fournier.
Orlando (12-24) dominated throughout the game and never was seriously challenged in the fourth period. The Pistons (19-15) lost for just the second time in the past seven games, but they looked lost against the revitalized Magic.
“That was a beautiful thing tonight, getting back on the court,” Gordon said. “It feels like we could start a winning streak now.”
Fournier, who missed eight of the previous nine games with a sprained ankle, scored 17 points and hit 3 of 5 3 point attempts. Gordon, who missed seven of the previous eight games with a concussion and a strained calf, had 14 points and seven rebounds while hitting both his 3-point attempts.
Orlando center Bismack Biyombo, in his second start of the season, had a season-high 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Backup center Marreese Speights scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds in just 16 minutes.
The Magic made all 17 of their free throws to set a franchise record for most foul shots in a game without a miss. They also outrebounded the Pistons 48-42.
“We’re still a little undermanned, but it certainly felt a lot better than it has the past couple weeks,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “Those guys gave us a big lift.”
Tobias Harris led Detroit with 21 points, and Andre Drummond had 17 points, a game-high 18 rebounds and five assists. Ish Smith, in his first start of the season, contributed 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Reggie Bullock had 13 points.
The Pistons, though, looked a step slow throughout much of the game.
“I thought we did a terrible job,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “When you’re not prepared and you’re not locked in defensively, this is what happens. I thought our disposition was awful to begin the game. Our starting lineup was not prepared to play.”
Orlando opened the fourth quarter with nine consecutive points — 3-pointers by Speights, D.J. Augustin and Arron Afflalo — for an 86-73 lead. Detroit never got closer than eight points in the final 11 minutes.
“We need to start the game better defensively,” Smith said. “When we do that (like tonight), it kind of sets the tone, and we just didn’t go a very good job with that.”
The Magic led 77-73 going into the fourth quarter despite a 12-0 run by the Pistons earlier in the third.
The Pistons scored 14 consecutive points — including eight straight by Smith — and led 50-46, their largest edge in the first half. They trailed by as many as 10.
The score was tied 50-50 at intermission.
Drummond led all players with 11 points and eight rebounds in the first half, when the Magic had eight players score between four and eight points.
The Magic led 46-36 when Gordon hit his second 3-pointer, but they lost the advantage with eight turnovers in the second quarter.
NOTES: Pistons PG Ish Smith moved into the starting lineup in place of Reggie Jackson, who sprained his right ankle in Detroit’s Tuesday night victory over Indiana. ... Detroit G Avery Bradley (groin strain) and PF Jon Leuer (sprained left ankle) also missed the Thursday game. ... The Magic were without starting C Nikola Vucevic for the second consecutive game. He broke a bone in his left hand and is expected to be out for at least six weeks. ... Magic F Aaron Gordon, the team’s leading scorer, returned Thursday after missing the previous five games with a strained right calf. Rookie F Jonathan Isaac sat out for the third time in the past four games with a sore right ankle. ... The Magic came into the night riding their second nine-game losing streak of the season. ... The Pistons beat the Magic 114-110 in Detroit earlier this season when they tied a franchise record with 17 3-pointers.