Rebounding Dooms Magic in Detroit

Victor Oladipo

By John Denton
Jan. 28, 2014

AUBURN HILLS, Mich – Simple mathematics played a major role in the Orlando Magic’s latest loss in suburban Detroit on Tuesday night.

When the Magic gave up 17 offensive boards, got outrebounded 56-40 and turned the ball over 16 times, the Detroit Pistons were able to get off nine more shot attempts (and 14 in the first three quarters) than an Orlando team that was as cold as the sub-zero temperatures outside.

The Magic and the Pistons shot roughly the same percentages from the floor and missed about the same number of free throws, but the extra chances provided by Detroit’s work on the offensive glass gave it the advantage in another frustrating night for Orlando.

The undersized Magic went into Tuesday knowing that they had to keep the Pistons off the glass, but they were unable to do so throughout a 103-87 defeat to a Detroit team that was desperate for a victory.

``(The extra shots) are exactly what it was,’’ Magic guard Arron Afflalo said. ``I thought our initial defense was solid – I wouldn’t say it was great – but we just have to do a better job of transition defense. And a big part of tonight was the offensive rebounding.’’

Orlando (12-34) lost a second consecutive game when it couldn’t generate much offense and couldn’t match the muscle of Pistons’ frontline players Andre Drummond (13 points and 17 rebounds), Greg Monroe (eight points and 11 rebounds) and Josh Smith (16 points). The Magic scored just 60 points in the game’s first three quarters and they couldn’t get back into the game in the fourth despite a spirited effort from the team’s youthful second unit.

Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson was disappointed in the Magic’s fight even though they knew they were going into a game that would challenge them physically.

``We just have to play tougher and take more pride and ownership in what we do, individually and collectively,’’ Nelson fumed. ``I feel like we didn’t do that at all tonight. We knew who they were in terms of the style of play that they played and it seemed like they surprised us.

``It felt like we came into the game shocked that they were so physical with us,’’ Nelson added. ``We have to be more zoned in on what that team is going to do.’’

Afflalo, who hopes to hear his name called on Thursday as an All-Star pick for the first time in his career, scored 14 points on six of 12 shooting. Tobias Harris added 14 points, while Nelson had 11 points, three 3-pointers and seven assists. Rookie Victor Oladipo, who was moved back into a reserve role, got hot in the fourth quarter with four straight makes and finished with 19 points.

Orlando shot just 41.6 percent from the floor and never could get much rhythm going offensively. The Magic compounded their problems when they missed 10 free throws and remained below 50 percent from the stripe most of the night.

``The great thing about this game is you know what’s coming and how their team plays – whether we saw it on film or talked about it – and now we’ve just got to get in a position of stopping them,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said.

Detroit (18-27) entered Tuesday having lost four straight games and 11 of 14 games since Christmas. The Pistons’ freefall started in Orlando on Dec. 27 when the Magic whipped them 109-92 – a game that Smith and Monroe played poorly in. They played better on Tuesday, as Brandon Jennings (20 points and eight assists) despite a slow start that included 11 missed shots in his first 13 attempts.

The Magic’s three-game road trip comes to an end Wednesday night north of the border against the much-improved Toronto Raptors. Orlando is back at the Amway Center on Friday night to host the Milwaukee Bucks before going on another two-game road trip to Boston (Sunday) and Indiana (Monday).

``We just have to be ready to compete (on Wednesday) or else it’s another physical team in the Raptors who will present problems for us,’’ Vaughn said.

Once again without starting center Nikola Vucevic and badly outrebounded in Sunday’s loss in New Orleans, the Magic chanced the starting lineup on Sunday and inserted Jason Maxiell. The power forward spent the first seven years of his NBA career with the Pistons and made his first return to The Palace at Auburn Hills on Tuesday night. Maxiell played 14 minutes and contributed two points and one rebound.

Down just 10 at the half, Orlando came unglued in an ugly third quarter. The Magic turned the ball over five times and made just six of 18 shots in an ugly 17-point third quarter that saw the deficit balloon to a frustrating 18 points.

Afflalo made four of six shots in the third quarter, but unfortunately he scored more points (10) than the rest of his teammates combined (seven) in the period.

``It’s just an unfortunate circumstance with us being a young team, and it takes some extreme discipline and extreme fortitude to stay defensive-minded when your offense is absent,’’ Afflalo said. ``So, I think those things come through winning. Clearly, we some improving to do mentally from that standpoint.’’

Orlando trailed 53-43 at the half, and it was actually lucky that the game was that close considering how badly it was whipped on the inside early on. Detroit had a 22-12 advantage on points in the paint and a 16-2 edge in second-chance points in the first two quarters.

Detroit had 12 offensive rebounds in the first half and held a 29-18 advantage on the glass. Drummond and Monroe combined for 17 rebounds early on. Smith, who made just two of 13 shots in Orlando when the two teams played a month ago, compounded problems for the Magic by making six of eight tries in the first half for 12 points.

Nelson drilled three 3-pointers in the first half to keep the Magic within striking distance, but Orlando shot just 44 percent in the first 24 minutes. The Magic didn’t help themselves by missing seven free throws in the first half – six of them off the fingertips of Maurice Harkless.

Many of Orlando’s worst fears came true at the start of the game when the Pistons corralled nine offensive rebounds in the first quarter. In fact, eight of Detroit’s first 15 points came off of second-chance points.

``The rebounding was a big part for them in the first half,’’ Afflalo said. ``That’s a big team, man. Drummond, Monroe and Joshand Kyle (Singler) off the bench. Those guys attack the glass really well. I see why they are the No. 1 paint team (in the NBA).’’