Magic Out of Rhythm in Loss to Pistons

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

Three players ejected as a result of altercation

The Lead

Franz Wagner recorded 19 points, Wendell Carter Jr. scored 16, and Paolo Banchero had 15, but the Orlando Magic were unable to get into much of a rhythm during Wednesday’s 121-101 loss to the Detroit Pistons. Three players, including Orlando’s Moe Wagner, were ejected following an altercation just before halftime. 

Making Headlines

Moe Wagner for the Magic and Killian Hayes and Hamidou Diallo for the Pistons were each ejected following an altercation near Detroit’s bench with 33.2 seconds left in the second quarter. Wagner was issued a flagrant foul, penalty two after bumping into Hayes as the two were chasing for a loose ball. Hayes retaliated by swinging at the back of Wagner’s head, which led to the fracas. Diallo shoved Wagner from behind prior to Hayes’ punch. 

Key Stretches

A 22-6 Pistons run preceded the squabble. Saddiq Bey hit two of his six 3-pointers during that stretch and Bojan Bogdanovic buried one. Jalen Duren and Diallo each had dunks. The only made Magic field goal was a Markelle Fultz bucket. Orlando, down as many as 25 at one point, got within 12 early in the fourth quarter before Detroit pulled away. 

Key Stats

For the second straight game, the Magic struggled defending the 3-point line. The Pistons sank 18 of their 42 3-point attempts, while the Magic connected on just five of their 22 tries. Detroit’s bench outscored the Magic’s reserves 76-43. Alec Burks and Bey combined for 60 of those Detroit bench points. 

Quote of the Day

“He has been exceptional. Playing great ball. A three-level scorer so far in this league ... in the paint, mid-range, and shooting the ball from the outside pretty well. He is just going to keep getting better and better. Every game he will get better and better. Every film session he will get better and better. All these experiences are really good for him on a day-to-day basis. They definitely got a really good one. He is a great kid too. They got a great one here in Orlando. Once again, they have had some really, really good picks in their drafts. You look at Shaq (O’Neal) ... you look at Dwight (Howard). They have done really well.” – LeBron James on Paolo Banchero 

Injury Report

Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness), Chuma Okeke (left knee surgery), and Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery) were out for the Magic. Cade Cunningham (lower leg), Marvin Bagley III (illness) and Isaiah Livers (shoulder) were unavailable for the Pistons.

This Day in History

Strangely enough, this year was the fourth time in Magic history they played the Pistons on a Dec. 28. The previous three times, Orlando came away with a victory, including in 2000 when Tracy McGrady scored 26 points and Darrell Armstrong recorded 22 points and 14 assists. Jerry Stackhouse led Detroit with 34 points, while Ben Wallace, a member of the Magic the prior year, had 19 rebounds. This was supposed to be Grant Hill’s first game against his former team after joining the Magic, but his ankle injury prevented that from happening. 

Rivals Report

Losing Cunningham, the 2021 No. 1 overall draft pick, for the season was a bummer. Not having him makes it tough for them to assess how he and Jaden Ivey mesh together in Detroit’s backcourt. The big question going forward for the Pistons, though, is what to do with Bojan Bogdanovic, by far and away their best player to this point of the season. He signed a two-year extension with the Pistons in late October, but rumors continue to swirl that perhaps Detroit would deal him before the trade deadline if another team threw an attractive asset or two their way. 

Up Next

The Magic return home for three straight games, starting with a showdown against their Southeast Division rivals, the Washington Wizards, on Friday at 7 p.m. This will be the first of four meetings between the two teams. Entering Wednesday’s action, Orlando and Washington were separated by just one game in the standings. After losing 11 straight, the Wizards have won three of their last four games, including Tuesday when they snapped the 76ers’ eight-game winning streak. Kristaps Porzingis led Washington with 24 points, while Bradley Beal, who did exit early because of left hamstring soreness, finished with 19 points.