Hampton, Bamba Lead Magic to Win Over Pistons
Even though they are young and haven’t had much time to practice together because of the condensed schedule, this Orlando Magic group continues to make progress. That was evident once again in Detroit on Monday night, as seven Magic players scored in double figures in a 119-112 victory over the Pistons. It was the Magic’s third win in their last four games.
Ignas Brazdeikis wasted no time making an impact. Just one day after signing a 10-day contract with the Magic, the 6-foot-6, 221-pounder scored a career-high 12 points and made a pair of huge shots. The first one came with 2:19 remaining when he drilled a corner 3-pointer that put Orlando up six. Then, with 1:05 left, he connected on a driving layup to help seal the win. The Magic outscored the Pistons by 18 when Brazdeikis, a star for the Westchester Knicks of the G League earlier this year, was on the floor.
Another player who came on strong down the stretch was Mo Bamba, who finished with career highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds. The 7-foot, 231-poinder, who has scored in double figures in four of his last seven games, had 16 of his points in the fourth quarter and made a crucial mid-range jumper with 1:45 remaining that extended the Magic’s lead to six. All four of Orlando’s bench players scored in double figures.
Cole Anthony, deservedly so, was Saturday’s player of the game after making the game-winning 3-pointer and posting a career high in points. Going somewhat under the radar was the stellar play of fellow rookie R.J. Hampton, who also hit a clutch triple in that victory over the Grizzlies. With his confidence growing, Hampton came out sharp in Detroit and had his best game since joining the Magic. The 6-foot-4, 175-pounder, just 21 years old, flirted with a triple-double with 16 points, seven rebounds and a career-high 10 assists.
Devin Cannady (right ankle; open dislocation), Michael Carter-Williams (sprained left ankle), James Ennis III (sore right calf), Markelle Fultz (torn ACL, left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation), Chuma Okeke (sprained left ankle), Otto Porter Jr. (left foot pain), and Terrence Ross (back spasms) were all out for the Magic. Wayne Ellington (bilateral calf strain), Jerami Grant (right knee soreness), Cory Joseph (left ankle soreness), Rodney McGruder (left ankle soreness), Jahlil Okafor (not with team), Mason Plumlee (rest), and Dennis Smith Jr. (left knee soreness) were unavailable for the Pistons.
The third quarter has been “hit-or-miss” for the Magic the last few weeks. When they’ve played well that period, they’ve given themselves a chance to pull out wins. That was the case on Monday in Detroit as Orlando outscored the Pistons by seven that quarter. A 7-0 run, featuring an Anthony 3-pointer and two baskets by Wendell Carter Jr., midway through the period shifted the momentum toward the Magic’s direction.
Quote of the Night
“Having a lot of fun. Winning is fun. So when we win, I think everybody has a smile on their face. Those are the kind of things we have to do. We have to have fun. We have to play together, stay together.” – Hampton
The Magic will be seeking their fourth win in their last five games when they host the Boston Celtics on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Celtics have been up and down all year. Their last two games exemplify that. They overcome a 32-point deficit behind a franchise-tying-high 60 points from Jayson Tatum to beat the Spurs on Friday and then two nights later fell to the Blazers. Evan Fournier, who played for the Magic from 2014-2021, will make his first visit to Orlando since being traded to Boston at the deadline.