The Orlando Magic have been on a tear lately against teams headed to the playoffs, but they came up short against the Detroit Pistons last night, 108-104.
The Magic’s achilles heel showed up again as the struggled to hold on to a lead towards the end of the game. “I hate saying we should have won. I don’t like saying that,’’ said Magic forward Aaron Gordon. His potential game-tying 3-point shot rimmed out with just over 2 minutes left on the clock.
The Magic had a lead of as much as seven points in the final period, but were unable to not only build upon its lead, but it couldn’t get the stops necessary to slow down the hard-charging Detroit Pistons.
Orlando (33-45) came in having won four of five games with three of those wins coming against teams (Chicago, Indiana and Memphis) that are still in the heat of the playoff race. The only loss in that stretch was to Milwaukee, and in that game they held a five point lead with 2 1/2 minutes to play.
Coach Scott Skiles had this to say: “There were a lot of plays where we got away from doing what we had been doing and it was a one-on-one tournament for quite a bit of the game, just putting our heads down and going one-one-one indiscriminately,’’ Skiles said. “We played good enough defense through three quarters to have a lead, but we just made too many mistakes in the last three minutes.’’
Though this problem has plagued the Magic this year as they grow their young squad, Detroit has rallied to win nine times this season when trailing at the start of the fourth quarter, while the Magic are a head-scratching 7-15 in games decided by five points or less. The Pistons have proven to be one of the best fourth quarter teams in the league this year.
The Pistons swept the season series from Orlando, winning twice in suburban Detroit and on Wednesday at the Amway Center.
Last night’s game was also the first return to to Orlando for forward Tobias Harris. He was traded to Detroit in February for Brandon Jennings and Ehsan Ilyasova. He Received a warm ovation during pregame introductions. Harris finished with 13 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes.
The Magic face the Miami Heat on Friday April 8th in Miami.