Wendell Carter Jr.’s Putback at Buzzer Lifts Magic to Thrilling Victory Over Pistons

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

The Lead

Franz Wagner led seven Orlando players in double figures with 21 points, Cole Anthony scored 15, and Wendell Carter Jr. had 14, including a game-winning putback at the buzzer, as the Magic outlasted the Detroit Pistons 108-106 on Thursday night at Amway Center.

Clutch Moments

Preceding Carter’s game winner off a Paolo Banchero missed driving layup were a pair of free throws from Franz Wagner with 8.7 seconds remaining that put Orlando up three and a tying 3-pointer from Pistons rookie Jaden Ivey with 4.5 seconds left. 

Wendell Carter Jr.'s Game-Winning, Buzzer-Beating Putback Slam

Key Stats

The Magic outscored the Pistons by 18 in the paint and made three more free throws. Orlando also committed seven fewer turnovers than the Pistons and scored 21 points off Detroit’s 21 turnovers. There were 24 lead changes and the game was tied nine times. 

Interesting Note

Carter joins a list of Magic players who have made game-winning shots in the final few seconds against the Pistons in franchise history. Others who did it include Tracy McGrady (2002), Juwan Howard (2004), Jameer Nelson (2006), Rashard Lewis (2008), and Evan Fournier (2018). 

Quote of the Day

“I give a lot of credit to our assistant, Jesse (Mermuys). Coming out of the time-out, he said that when P (Paolo Banchero) goes to the basket, just follow it up. You never know what might happen and lo and behold, I follow it up and the ball comes right to me. Quick and easy tip in. I just give a lot of credit to Jesse because he literally told me that right as we we’re coming out of the time-out.” - Carter, who also grabbed a season-best 14 rebounds to go along with his 14 points

Injury/Inactive Report

Only Caleb Houstan, who is on a G League assignment, was unavailable for the Magic. Cade Cunningham (lower leg), Marvin Bagley III (hand), and Nerlens Noel (personal) were out for the Pistons.

This Day in History

On Feb. 23, 2003, Orlando’s McGrady and New Jersey’s Jason Kidd each recorded triple-doubles against one another in a Magic victory. T-Mac finished with 46 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, while Kidd had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 15 assists, as well as six steals. Drew Gooden and Gordan Giricek each added 15 points for Orlando, while Kenyon Martin scored 27 for the Nets. 

Rivals Report

The Pistons have been hard to evaluate most of the year because of the absence of Cunningham, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2021. It remains to be seen how he and Ivey will mesh in the backcourt. The addition of James Wiseman, whom they traded for at the deadline from Golden State, also makes things interesting going forward. Detroit has a nice collection of bigs – with Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart and Bagley being the others. 

Up Next

The Magic will host the Indiana Pacers on Saturday at 7 p.m. This will be the fourth and final meeting between them this season, with Indiana currently holding a 2-1 series advantage. in November, the Magic played back-to-back games in Indianapolis, with the Pacers prevailing in both. Tyrese Haliburton led Indiana with 22 points and 14 assists in the first outing, while Bennedict Mathurin scored a game-high 22 in the second contest. In the most recent meeting, which was played at Amway Center on Jan. 25, Banchero recorded 23 points and Indiana native Gary Harris scored 22 and made all six of his 3-point attempts in Orlando’s victory.