Denton: Magic Need to Improve Rebounding Against Detroit's Big Frontline

By John Denton
Jan. 27, 2014

AUBURN HILLS, Mich – As he was attempting to explain what had happened on a frustrating Sunday night in New Orleans, Orlando Magic center Kyle O’Quinn had a revelation come to him.

O’Quinn’s thought process went something like this: If the Magic don’t fix the rebounding issues exposed by budding superstar Anthony Davis on Sunday night, they will be seeing double come Tuesday night in Detroit. Double as in Pistons’ big men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.

``Coach (Jacque) Vaughn talked about (rebounding) a lot pregame that it was an area we had to be concerned about,’’ O’Quinn said in the minutes after the Magic’s 100-92 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. ``We’ll probably have to worry about the same problem in our next game with good rebounding bigs such as Drummond, Monroe and (Josh) Smith. We’ve got to take this as a learning experience and tackle that area better next game.’’

The Magic (12-33) saw their three-game road trip get off to a rocky start on Sunday when they allowed Davis and the Pelicans to outrebound them 48-32. Of those boards, 16 came on the offensive glass, resulting in New Orleans getting four more shot attempts than the Magic on the right. Also, the Pelicans battered the Magic with 14 second-chance points.

Davis was the driving force behind New Orleans’ work on the glass, corralling a career-best 19 rebounds (seven on the offensive glass) to go along with his 22 points and seven blocked shots. Orlando had held Davis in check in the past, but that was when it had starting center Nikola Vucevic, who missed his 11th straight game on Sunday because of a concussion.

Likely still without Vucevic on Tuesday, Orlando will have its work cut out against a Detroit team that features one of the NBA’s most rugged front lines. Drummond ranks third in the league in rebounding at 12.6 boards a game, while Monroe (8.7 rpg.) and Smith (6.9) are also solid rebounders capable of putting up double-digit performances.

Detroit ranks sixth in the NBA in offensive rebounding and fifth in total rebounding. During Sunday’s 116-106 loss to Dallas, the Pistons held a 19-1 advantage in second-chance points.

Magic forward Tobias Harris, who poured in 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds on Sunday in New Orleans, knows that Orlando will have to keep the Pistons off the glass in order to have a chance to win.

``It hurts you a lot as a player when you are giving up rebounds and second-chance points,’’ Harris said, referring to Sunday’s game. ``As a player and a unit we have to be focused on getting another stop (when they give up a rebound), but that’s tough to do.’’

But the Magic could be catching Detroit at a good time. Despite re-tooling the roster this offseason with the additions of Brandon Jennings and Smith, the Pistons are a disappointing 17-27 and falling out of the playoff race in the woeful Eastern Conference. The Pistons have lost four in a row and seven of their last 10. They’re not even very good on their homecourt, going just 7-15 at The Palace of Auburn Hills this season.

The Magic whipped the Pistons 109-92 on Dec. 27 in Orlando by daring Smith (two of 13, five points) and Monroe (three of nine, six points) to shoot from the outside while withstanding a Drummond assault (10 points, 11 rebounds, eight offensive boards) inside. Orlando still won the rebounding battle, 49-48, that night.

Because of the injury to Vucevic, the Magic have had to play undersized with converted power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis starting at center for the past three weeks. Harris, more of a small forward, has moved over to power forward. And O’Quinn has played well of late while giving the Magic some size and toughness on the inside.

While the lack of size has left the Magic vulnerable, recent victories against Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers show that they can still win with their revised rotation of big men.

Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn said the Magic must rebound as a team against a squad like the Pistons. That means Orlando will need wings Arron Afflalo and Victor Oladipo, and even point guard Jameer Nelson at times, crashing the class to help out.

``It’s extremely tough (to rebound against big teams), but everyone has to be involved and help us out while we don’t have Nik,’’ Vaughn said. ``It’s easy to improve on that area because it’s staring you in the face. I can help keep a guy off the glass from rebounding the ball. I can play defense, be sound and not foul. And I can make simple plays (offensively). We’ll take simple if we need to.’’