Magic dismantle Pistons 113-91 to sweep homestand

ORLANDO, FL – The Orlando Magic (35-26) faced off against the Detroit Pistons (9-51) on Sunday night at the Kia Center.

Paolo Banchero racked up 29 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. It was the 18th game this season he recorded 25-plus points, five-plus rebounds, and five-plus assists.

Though the Pistons come into town with one of the worst records in the league, they are not a team to be taken lightly.

When the teams last met, it took a last-second buzzer-beater by Paolo Banchero to secure their third win over Detroit this year.

The first quarter was no different. Detroit had starting forward Isaiah Stewart returning to the court, a formidable player who was absent in the last game due to a league suspension.

Stewart immediately made his presence felt, scoring seven points in the first quarter and making things difficult for the Magic on the defensive end.

Orlando managed to build a seven-point lead over the Pistons in the first quarter, but near the end, Detroit managed to take a 27-25 lead.

Orlando, Florida, USA, February 27, 2024, Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz #20 jump to take a shot at the Kia Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Markelle Fultz provided a spark off the Orlando bench, going eight for eight and scoring 16 points in 16 minutes. Fultz’ attack style worked hand in hand with the strategy, and his acrobatic under the basket scoop layups baffled the Pistons time and again.

The first quarter ended with a 31-27 score.

Orlando wasn’t able to pull away from Detroit during the first half because of their 3-point shooting. The Magic would get ahead by a few points, mostly by attacking the Detroit interior, but the Pistons, though they shot 5-14 early in the game, hit five threes to keep them in the game.

Orlando only went 2 for 10 early in the game. They needed to turn the heat up on those threes to get a win.

The halftime score was 59-50 Orlando. Wendell Carter Jr scored 15 points for the Magic, followed by Paolo with 14. Orlando shot 63% from the field and went 3 for 11 from deep.

The Pistons’ Jalen Duran had the highest score in the half for them with 11 points, but Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham dropped 10 and 9 respectively.

Orlando, Florida, USA, December 8, Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey #23 during the second half at the Amway Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

In the third quarter, the Magic came out looking to do some work, and after a few minutes, the Pistons played like a different team, missing shots and no longer winning contested loose balls, plus the 3’s were no longer dropping.

Orlando played with more purpose, increased defensive pressure, and before the Pistons knew it, Orlando had built a 26-point lead. Orlando continued to push on the interior, dominating points in the paint 40-22.

The Orlando bench outscored the Detroit bench 18-8 by the end of the third quarter.

“It says a lot about them being prepared,” Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said about his team’s effort coming out of intermission. “Give so much credit to our coaches. Playing a team four times and to win four times (is not easy). They played hard. They’ve adjusted some things as they’ve gone on. But our ability to sustain our effort and continue to play together was something I’m very proud of this group for, and our coaching staff for how they are getting these guys prepared for what they are going to continue to see.”

At the end of the third quarter, the Pistons had whittled the Magic’s lead down to 18 points, 89-71.

Beginning the fourth quarter, the Pistons kept coming, and Orlando’s turnovers gave them plenty of help.

Orlando committed 17 turnovers that led to 24 Detroit points. At the 9:07 mark in the fourth quarter, Coach Mosley had had enough and called a timeout. The brief spate of sloppy play ended quickly, as Mosley brought in the starting lineup of Gary Harris, Jalen Suggs, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, and Wendell Carter Jr.

Orlando, Florida, USA, February 14, 2024, Orlando Magic players Franz Wagner #22, Paolo Banchero #5 at the Kia Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

“I’m not really worried about makes or misses,” said Fultz. “There’s other areas that I wish I could’ve been better at tonight, especially with that second unit; you know, all those turnovers. Trying to control that but end-all, be-all, all I care about is a win, so I’m happy that we got the win.”

This win was the Magic’s 34th this year, tying their season total of wins last year. It’s a clear picture of how much they have advanced with 20+ games remaining this season.

Orlando starts a 3-game trip at Charlotte on Tuesday, the first night of a back-to-back. The Magic face the Wizards the next night.

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