It was an up and down game against the Orlando Magic on Friday night, but when the fourth quarter horn blew the Pistons found themselves down for the ninth time this season. Up by 13 points in the third quarter, the Pistons seemed to be in control of the game by channeling what had brought them so much success in their win against Philadelphia on Wednesday–sharing the ball. But with 27 assists to 44 made shots on the night, it was the Orlando Magic that were finding each other with ease for high percentage shots in the fourth quarter. Six Pistons put up double digit scoring efforts, but the Pistons fell short in the rebounding battle allowing the Magic to control the boards, and ultimately the game, as Orlando left the Palace with a 110-106 victory.
Fourth Quarter Let Down
At the end of the third quarter the Pistons were leading the game 75-71, but the fourth quarter signaled another collapse for Lawrence Frank's team. The Pistons defense broke down, and the Magic took advantage scoring 39 points in the fourth quarter.
J.J. Redick dropped 12 fourth quarter points including two three pointers, and the Pistons couldn't seem to keep a body on Redick as he drifted out beyond the arch. Redick scored a game high 23 points on the night.
Jameer Nelson was able to penetrate the lane, too strong and smart for second year guard Brandon Knight. Once in the lane, Nelson would find a cutting Glen "Big Baby" Davis, a ready spot-up shooter or draw the foul. The Pistons had defended the basket well early in the game, but as the Magic continued to spread the floor out with their ball movement the Pistons defense could not sustain itself.
Balanced Starting Attack
All five of the Pistons starters dropped double-figure scoring numbers, but no one's performance was better than Greg Monroe and Tayshaun Prince's.
Continuing to improve his bid for an NBA All-Star roster spot, Monroe scored 23 points on a 9-12 shooting night. Monroe had his entire repertoire on display, on the block post moves, power dunks, and a mid-range jump shot that was falling better than it has all season. Where Monroe fell short, and this was an across-the-board problem, was in the rebounding department late in the game.
Averaging 12.7 points per game this season, Tayshaun Prince has had steady performances through the Pistons first nine games. Against Orlando, the roster's longest tenured Piston had himself a "young man's game." A solid six points in the first half, Prince was aggressive in the second half. He chipped in 10 points in the third quarter, finally taking advantage of the height and length advantage he had over Magic defender Arron Afflalo. With the smaller defender on him, Prince had his mid-range jump shot going. Not too old to throw it down, Prince's exclamation point on his 18 point night came with a posterizing dunk over Orlando's "Big Baby" in the third quarter.
Singler starts, Stuckey sits
Before the game, Rodney Stuckey had a conversation with Lawrence Frank to suggest that Kyle Singler remain in the starting line-up, while he'd come off the bench. Frank acted on the suggestion and the Pistons seemed to be better for it. Besides two early fouls in the first quarter, Singler's second career start was another solid one for the Pistons. The Pistons were finding success with Singler's ability to move without the ball, encouraging the same ball-sharing offense that brought the Pistons success against the 76ers, and worked early against the Magic. Singler had 14 points going 5-10 from the field.
Stuckey had nine points on the night, and played well in his second unit role. Off the bench, Stuckey played to his strengths keeping all his shots inside the arch or at the rim. There were times when the offense got stagnant, and in a few of those situations Stuckey was able to come in and provide a spark.
Solid night for Drummond
Although Rodney Stuckey had an impact in his second unit role, no player off the bench energized the game more than Andre Drummond on Friday night. Scoring 10 points in 15 minutes on the floor, Drummond was again playing well off the pick and roll. Showing off his athleticism with a few put-back dunks, Drummond's defense was equally impressive. A quick steal at the top of the key by Drummond, lead to the 6'11" rookie pushing the ball up the floor with speed before leaping into a double-clutch dunk. The crowd wanted to see more, but when Frank kept Drummond on the floor with Monroe the Magic went smaller, and took advantage of the bigs by spreading them out and clearing up the lane. Until the Pistons can figure out how to better use Drummond and Monroe together, those waiting for Drummond to break into the starting line-up may have to continue holding their breath.
The Pistons stay at home and will take on the Boston Celtics on Sunday night. The Celtics are 5-4, mainly due to the fact that Doc Rivers has been resting his aging starters, but the game is within the Pistons grasp. At home, the Pistons have given top tier teams all they can handle this season, i.e. Oklahoma City. If the Pistons can get back to playing high-assist basketball, and 48 minutes of defense, a win shouldn't be out of the question on Sunday. The Pistons needed to win the Magic game badly, and sitting at 1-9 the Pistons need to take the Celtics game even worse.
Tags: Andre Drummond, Basketball, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, Greg Monroe, J.J. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Kyle Singler, Lawrence Frank, NBA, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Orlando Magic, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince
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