Not many teams lately have been better defensively than the Orlando Magic, who coming into Friday’s action ranked eighth in defensive efficiency in January. Their latest staunch defensive effort came Friday in a 119-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons at Amway Center.
Franz Wagner came out scorching hot, scoring 13 of his 24 points in the first quarter. Mo Bamba, meanwhile, recorded his 10th double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Jalen Suggs’ defense was phenomenal on fellow rookie Cade Cunningham, who finished with just eight points on 3-of-17 shooting from the field. The entire Magic bench made solid contributions, with Terrence Ross leading the way with 21 points. Chuma Okeke tallied 17 points, one shy of his season high.
The Magic held the Pistons to 36.8 percent overall shooting, the lowest shooting percentage an opponent has shot against Orlando this season. The Magic, on the other hand, were sharp offensively, accumulating 28 assists and making 12 of their 25 3-point tries.
Quote of the Night
“Love the pace. I think we showed growth tonight. Early in the season, we really struggled with switching. Switching is just designed for us to try to play some iso ball, try to find those matchups to play iso ball. But we did a great job of getting into our motion to play with high splits, low splits, and we just kept finding cutters, and we kept getting downhill. We did a pretty good job tonight.” – Bamba
R.J. Hampton (left knee), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), and E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain) were out for Orlando. Jerami Grant (return to competition reconditioning), Kelly Olynyk (health and safety protocols) and Isaiah Livers (foot) were unavailable for Detroit.
This Day in History
On Jan. 28, 1995, Dennis Scott scored 27 points off the bench and Horace Grant recorded 25 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in Orlando’s victory over Milwaukee. Vin Baker, now an assistant coach with the Bucks, led Milwaukee with 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Eric Murdock tallied 22 points and 11 assists.
The Pistons have an interesting decision to make in the next couple weeks regarding Grant, a Most Improved Player award finalist last season. Do they hold onto him through the trade deadline, or do they move him and collect an asset or two? The 6-foot-8 forward is expected back soon after suffering a thumb injury in December. While he struggled Friday against the Magic, Cunningham has had a strong January, scoring over 20 points four times this month, including erupting for 34 against Denver earlier this week.
The Magic’s five-game homestand comes to an end Sunday when they take on the Dallas Mavericks at 7 p.m. In their first meeting this season on Jan. 15, Luka Doncic scored 23 points and Kristaps Porzingis and Jalen Brunson each had 19 in Dallas’ victory. Suggs, Robin Lopez, and Moe Wagner each recorded 16 points for the Magic. Entering Friday’s action, the Mavs were tied with the Phoenix Suns for the most wins (11) in January.