Magic Unable to Hold Off Pistons in Motor City

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

The Lead

Kind of fitting that on the same day the Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines played an epic game on the gridiron a little over an hour away in East Lansing, the Orlando Magic were in Detroit with one former Spartan and three former Wolverines on their roster. One of them is Franz Wagner. A Wolverine the past two seasons before getting drafted by the Magic, he shined bright on Saturday with 19 points, but Orlando was unable to hold off the Pistons in a 110-103 loss.

Rookie Watch

Without a doubt, Wagner has been one of the league’s top NBA rookies thus far. He has scored in double figures in every game so far and is shooting 49.4 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from 3-point range. While fellow rookie Jalen Suggs struggled with his shot, making just three of his 13 shot attempts, the 6-foot-4 guard did fill up the stat sheet with 10 points, five rebounds, six assists, two steals and one block.

Key Stretch

Up three following a pair of free throws by Moe Wagner, who finished with 13 points and like his younger bro also went to Michigan, the Magic seemed to have full control. Then suddenly the Pistons got hot and poured it on, scoring 15 unanswered points to reclaim momentum. Cory Joseph, Jerami Grant and Josh Jackson made consecutive 3-pointers to start that run.

Back in Action

Chuma Okeke, back after missing the entire preseason and first six regular season games with a bone bruise in his right hip, recorded two points, one rebound and one assist in 14 minutes in his season debut. Another versatile forward for head coach Jamahl Mosley to utilize, the 16th overall draft pick in 2019 out of Auburn came on strong after the Magic made their trade deadline deals a season ago. In his last 18 games, the 6-foot-8, 234-pounder averaged 12.8 points and shot 35.1 percent from 3-point range.

Injury Report

Out for Orlando were Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), Markelle Fultz (left knee) and E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain). Isaiah Livers (right foot) and Chris Smith (G League – Two-Way) were unable to play for Detroit.

Rivals Report

Getting Cade Cunningham back will give the Pistons a better view of where they stand in their youth movement. With him being the No. 1 overall draft pick over the summer, much is expected of the 6-foot-8, 220-pounder, who in his one season at Oklahoma State averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists. How he meshes with Killian Hayes, 20 years old just like Cunningham, in Detroit’s backcourt will be key going forward. The Pistons feature several other developing youngsters, including Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart. Last season, Bey made the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team, while Stewart made the Second Team.

Quote of the Night

“When I work out, I really work on every part of my game. My defensive closeouts, slides, staying with my man. On offense, post work, shooting off the dribble, shooting off the catch. I really just try to work on my all-around game.” – Okeke on the work he put in the gym coming back from his injury

Up Next

The Magic’s three-game road trip concludes on Monday when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves at 8 p.m. ET. Led by their Big Three of Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards, the T-Wolves have gotten off to a good start, winning three of their first four games. In their most recent victory, coming against the defending-champion Milwaukee Bucks, Russell scored 29 points and Towns and Edwards each poured in 25.