Opposites attract as Pistons visit Magic
As Friday night unfolded, Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey was apologizing to his team’s fans for a horrific showing in Indiana.
While the Pistons were enduring their worst loss of the season, the Orlando Magic were pulling off an impressive second-half display against the Toronto Raptors, who own the most wins in the league.
Teams coming off drastically different results get together Sunday afternoon when Detroit visits Orlando.
Detroit (16-17) is 3-10 in its last 13 games since winning a season-high five straight games. Six of the losses are by single-digits but Friday’s 125-88 setback in Indiana was easily Detroit’s worst display of the season.
Detroit allowed the first eight points, committed turnovers on three of its first four possessions. The Pistons were within 11 early in the third quarter but fell apart and wound up allowing 30 points off 22 turnovers, two days after committing 24 giveaways in an eight-point victory over Washington.
“I want to first apologize to the fans of the Detroit Pistons,” Casey said after Detroit was torched for 68 points in the paint. “We’ve got to have more pride than we played with tonight, more togetherness. Indiana outworked us in every facet of the game.”
Those were Casey’s words after the Pistons held a team meeting to address their lackluster showing against the league’s hottest teams and Blake Griffin said the meeting was productive.
“I thought it was all positive in the sense that we’re all on the same page,” Griffin said. “The biggest thing that I would say as players, we are taking the onus. Coaches are giving us great defensive game plans, we walk through and we’re prepared for every single game and then we just come out and either don’t play hard or play hard one game and the next game we won’t. It’s just about consistency and that’s the gist of everything. That’s why I say it was positive. It’s not like a bunch of finger pointing. I’ve been in some bad team meetings and this was a good one.”
The meeting occurred after Griffin and Andre Drummond experienced quiet nights. Griffin finished with 18 points while Drummond totaled 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Orlando (15-19) on the other hand is attempting to produce another effective showing before starting a six-game road trip Monday.
The Magic stopped a four-game losing streak by dominating the second half of Friday’s 116-87 victory over Toronto, doing so two nights after going 1 for 10 in overtime of a 122-120 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Orlando also is hoping to score at least 115 points in a season-high third straight game after shooting 47.4 percent and outscoring Toronto 35-15 in the third quarter.
Defensively, the Magic limited the Raptors to 29.5 percent shooting in a game when Toronto made eight of its first 12 attempts and held an early 10-point lead.
“That was a very, very good performance by us on both ends — one of our best games, for sure, playing against one of the best teams if not the best team in the NBA right now,” Orlando center Nikola Vucevic said. “I’m sure there was a little bit (of desperation). We knew that we can’t keep losing, especially at home. Extending this losing stretch would make it hard for us to recover. So, guys individually, understood that it was time for us to turn things around. Everything clicked for us on both ends.”
Friday’s showing kept Orlando from losing five straight for the first time this season.
Vucevic recorded his fifth game this season with at least 30 points and also added 20 rebounds and eight assists. He has 52 points on 22-of-37 shooting from the field and 33 rebounds in his last two games after going 3 of 12 in last Sunday’s blowout loss to the Miami Heat.
“It’s a huge win, but at the end of the day it’s still just one win,” Vucevic said. “If we don’t take off from here, this won’t mean much for us”
Orlando is 5-2 in the last seven meetings with the Pistons but shot 5-of-16 and committed nine turnovers in the fourth quarter on Nov. 7 in a 103-96 home loss.