The Orlando Magic delivered their best offensive performance of the season on Monday. They’re hoping to stay hot against Detroit in their final game prior to the All-Star break.
Orlando racked up a season high in points while defeating Atlanta 135-126. The Magic drained a season-best 18 3-pointers and finished with a flourish, erupting for 42 fourth-quarter points while snapping a three-game losing streak.
Despite being eight games under .500, the Magic hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They can enjoy their week off a little more if they take care of business against the beat-up, slumping Pistons.
“We’ve just got to keep building, keep playing and doing the right things,” forward Terrence Ross told NBA.com. “We’ve got to stay with it, because it’s a long season with ups and downs, but it’s up to us to turn things around. That (game versus Detroit) would be big. We need that one.”
Ross scored 21 points against the Hawks, and the frontcourt duo of Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic also produced at a high level. Gordon had 26 points and nine rebounds, while Vucevic piled up 24 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
“When we don’t move the ball and settle, it hurts us, but (Monday) it was better, we fed off that and we were making shots,” Vucevic said to NBA.com. “Hopefully we can keep it up going into Wednesday and play the same way.”
The win over the Hawks also marked the Orlando debut of forward James Ennis III, who was acquired from Philadelphia just before the trade deadline. He added six points, five rebounds and an assist in 15 minutes.
“This team is good,” said Ennis, who waived his no-trade clause to join the Magic. “They have a bunch of good scorers and a bunch of good defenders, and it’s a great group of guys who want to come out and play hard.
“I love being part of a team that wants to play hard every time it steps on the floor,” Ennis added.”I’m happy to be here, I’m happy we got the win, (Monday) and we’ve got another game coming up Wednesday against Detroit and we’ve got to do the same thing — come out with energy and defend.”
The Pistons have lost all three games since they dealt longtime center Andre Drummond to Cleveland. They scored a season-low in points while falling to Charlotte at home, 87-76, on Monday.
“I thought we played hard,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Once that goes, then you really are concerned. You’re going to have nights like this where you miss open shots. But when you stop playing hard is when you have problems.”
The Pistons have been playing without regulars Blake Griffin, Luke Kennard, Svi Mykhailiuk and Derrick Rose due to injuries. Center John Henson and point guard Brandon Knight, the players acquired from the Cavaliers in the Drummond deal, are trying to get familiar with their new teammates.
“I think we’re going to make some mistakes, especially having new guys,” point guard Reggie Jackson told NBA.com. “Everybody’s trying to get acclimated, but we also just have some where we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. Uncharacteristic turnovers. If we can shore those things up and put ourselves in better position — we’ve all got to understand who we are as players — and then go from there, I think we’ll be better.”
–Field Level Media