FINAL: ORLANDO MAGIC 103, DETROIT PISTONS 96


GameNight Specifics
NBA Coverage: Game Info
Date: Monday, Jan. 24
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Amway Center (Orlando, FL)
Radio: AM 580 WDBO, AM 1270 WRLZ
Television: Sun Sports



PROJECTED MATCHUPS

LINEUPS MAY CHANGE BY GAME TIME


TEAM
PG
SG
C
PF
SF
R
R
PISTONS
Rodney Stuckey

Tracy McGrady

Ben Wallace

Jason Maxiell

Tayshaun Prince

Ben Gordon

Greg Monroe
MAGIC
Jameer Nelson

Jason Richardson

Dwight Howard

Brandon Bass

Hedo Turkoglu

Gilbert Arenas

J.J. Redick





















GAME RECAP


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) For the better part of the past few weeks, life inside the Detroit Pistons locker room has been a tenuous experience at best.

A recent rift between coach John Kuester and guard Rip Hamilton had resulted in Hamilton sitting out for seven straight games entering Monday, and a brand new alignment trudging its way into the second half of the schedule.

But after holding on for a one-point win over Phoenix on Saturday, the Pistons found even more traction with a 103-96 victory over the Orlando Magic on Monday night.

Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye each scored 20 points to lead the Pistons' attack. Detroit scored 26 points off 16 Orlando turnovers and shot 50 percent from 3-point range to earn its first victory of the season over the Magic.

Rodney Stuckey, who replaced Hamilton in the starting lineup, and Ben Gordon each had 16 points. McGrady and Stuckey bounced back after shooting a combined 4 of 20 in the win over the Suns. "It's a different mentality that I have every game," McGrady said. "Tonight it was just to be more aggressive. That's how I wanted to approach tonight. I was disappointed in how I played my last game. I felt good. I got us off to a great start and it just continued."

Reserve Ryan Anderson had 21 points and Dwight Howard added 20 points and 16 rebounds for the Magic, who went 7 for 27 from 3-point range. There were also lapses on the defensive end that have become a recurring theme in recent Magic losses.

Hamilton didn't play again but it didn't matter as Detroit earned its second straight victory and snapped Orlando's three-game winning streak.

"My whole focus has been preparing for the next game and that's all you can do," Kuester said. "And in preparing for the next game you have to make tough decisions. ... You realize that all of these guys on any given night are going to give us something, and that's the main focus."

The Pistons led by as many as 14 before a 10-4 Magic run to open the fourth quarter cut the lead to 79-75 with 8:59 to play. Quentin Richardson had a pair of 3s during the surge.

But Detroit responded with an 11-3 run to push its cushion back to 90-78 at the 6:19 mark. Stuckey also came up with a key play down the stretch, drawing a foul on Jameer Nelson and hitting two free throws to make it 97-90 with 1:24 left.

McGrady had an up-and-down tenure in Orlando from 2000-04, but was known for his occasional ability to score at will. His skills have slowly diminished in the six years since his departure, but the 31-year-old showed flashes of his former self Monday.

He scored 17 points in the first half, including 14 in the first quarter, to help the Pistons take a 56-46 advantage into halftime.

Howard only had two baskets in the fourth quarter, and both of those came via offensive rebounds. He appeared noticeably frustrated at times in the final quarter as his teammates struggled to find him in the post and his agitation was apparent afterward as well.

"Guys just have to want to play, that's it," Howard said. "Either we get it together or we're just going to be a playoff team that doesn't win a championship. We've just got to play. Everybody knows what to do. We're professional athletes. We know what to do, so it's on us."

The Magic never led in the second half and coach Stan Van Gundy tried different lineups, including inserting reserve Richardson with both Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson struggling (they finished a combined 5 of 19 from the field).

Van Gundy said the missing ingredient, though, was a lack of focus and sustained defensive intensity. He also alluded to possibly changing up his eight-man rotation moving forward.

"We have to get a lot better defensively, which is my responsibility," he said. "I played Quentin tonight and maybe I'll have to play him more, or maybe we will have to play other people if these guys won't commit to it. We've just got to defend a lot better than we did tonight."

NOTES: The Pistons committed just two turnovers in the first half and six for the game. ... Howard was named NBA Eastern Conference player of the week on Monday, his third such honor of the season. ... Anderson has now scored in double figures for 10 straight games.





DENTON'S ANALYSIS VS. PISTONS


ORLANDO – Memories are sometimes tricky things. Not all of them are always pleasant, and on Monday night the Orlando Magic got a nightmarishly bad blast from the past that sparked thoughts of demons from years gone by.

When the Magic turned the ball over 16 times and got shredded defensively on the perimeter in a particularly unsightly 103-96 loss to Detroit it reminded long-time Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson of a time when the Pistons used to routinely have their way with the Magic.

``You always think before the game about the butt-kickings that they used to give us back in the day,’’ Nelson said while shaking his head. ``They’re a different team now, but they still play the same way. Their legacy is always going to be where it is.’’

Carrying the blast from the past theme a step further, former Magic guard Tracy McGrady was one of three Detroit players with 20 points. The Pistons (17-28) also got 20 points from Tayshaun Prince and a career-best 20 more and four 3-pointers from Austin Daye.

And this time the Magic (29-16) couldn’t shoot themselves beyond their defensive troubles because they hit on just seven of 27 3-pointers and their 16 turnovers led to 26 Pistons points. The loss ended Orlando’s eight-game home winning streak at Amway Center and left franchise center Dwight Howard (20 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots) muttering and head coach Stan Van Gundy steaming.

``Guys just have to want to play, that’s it,’’ said Howard, who was frustrated about getting only two fourth-quarter shots (both off offensive rebounds) and too many blow-bys defensively on the perimeter. ``Either we get it together or we’re just going to be a playoff team that doesn’t win a championship.’’

Added Van Gundy: ``Right now, and I told them afterwards, we depending on our shooting and we’re not going to win when we made seven of 27 threes because our defense isn’t good enough and we’re not committed enough to it. Thankfully, we shoot it well a lot of nights. But we’re not a contender until we take some pride on the defensive end and do it for 48 minutes and not try to do it for 12. Hopefully, we’ll learn something. I don’t know, but we’ll find out.’’

The Magic never led in the second half and trailed by 14 points late in the third period on a three-point play by McGrady. Orlando made a couple of charges – getting back to within 79-75 and 95-90 – but could never overtake a Pistons’ team that resembled their dynasty days.

For the Magic, there was plenty of frustration for a team that had just won three games in a row and looked to be readying itself for a serious push prior to the all-star break. But on this night, the Magic clearly didn’t play with enough intensity or execution to win.

``Everything that we do right now, we’re developing some bad habits,’’ said Nelson, who had 14 points, but was whistled for a frustration technical foul in the fourth quarter. ``It’s kind of like we’re turning a switch on and off and playing hard and not playing hard. We just have to do a better job with our energy, consistency and intensity. We have to get our level of play up there and keep it there.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from a frustrating Monday night at Amway Center:



Check out my top three storylines from Saturday:

READ ENTIRE ANALYSIS





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