Detroit — It all could have been so easy.
Anthony Tolliver hit the Pistons’ 17th 3-pointer of the night, tying a franchise record and putting the Pistons up by 14 with seven minutes remaining.
With the Pistons having a double-digit lead since the first quarter, the shot felt like a game-ending dagger.
Not so fast.
BOX SCORE: Pistons 114, Magic 110
The Magic reeled off 19 consecutive points to cut the Pistons' lead to 105-100 with just under three minutes remaining. It took some effort on the defensive end and a driving layup from Tobias Harris that pushed the lead to seven for the Pistons to hang on for the 114-110 win Sunday evening at Little Caesars Arena.
Despite getting their third win in a row after enduring a seven-game losing streak, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy was not impressed.
“I’m not happy,” Van Gundy said after the game. “We didn’t try in the second half. They had 67 points. I didn’t think we gave any effort in the second half.”
“I understand the sentiment that it’s all about the win and you got the win, but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about what you bring to the game, how you play, the effort you bring, the unselfishness you bring and then the results take care of themselves.”
Reggie Jackson wasn’t quite as animated about the performance as Van Gundy.
“You always wish you could play all 48 minutes,” Jackson said. “I don’t think anybody plays all 48. It’s tough, but that’s the NBA. They made a run. We’re just fortunate enough to get a win and we’re happy to get another one.”
Six Pistons scored in double figures, but it was Reggie Bullock, starting his fourth consecutive game, who led the way with a career-high 20.
Bullock says he’s seizing the moment to be a starter in the NBA and believes it’s his ability to work off the ball that’s getting him some long-awaited recognition.
“It’s the way I played when I was in college,” Bullock said. “I’m not a player who needs the ball to get things done. This is my most true opportunity to play in the league and I’m just trying to stick with it.”
The Pistons (17-13) looked like they were on cruise control through the first 41 minutes. They got some separation at the end of the first quarter that they held on to until the late Magic push. The Pistons finished the frame on a 14-1 run to take a 36-23 lead. With things clicking from beyond the arc, the Pistons matched a season-high for points in a quarter.
They didn’t cool off from long distance in the second quarter and they went 10-for-18 from the 3-point line before the half. Ultimately, they finished 17-for-34.
Orlando (11-20) got solid play from their big men despite trailing by double digits for most of the night. Mario Hezonja scored 28 to pace the Magic, while Nikola Vucevic finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.
Bradley out again
Avery Bradley sat out for the second consecutive game with a right adductor strain. Luke Kennard got his second career start but was pulled from the court just a minute in after it became apparent he was a little lost.
“(Kennard) screwed up twice in the first two plays of the game,” Van Gundy said. “Mental mistakes. I wasn’t just going to let it go. (He) screwed up a defensive assignment and screwed up the play at the other end. It was enough.”
After a solid outing in his first start on Friday at Indiana, Kennard finished with just three points, two assists and a single rebound while accruing nearly 15 minutes of playing time.
Stanley Johnson was the first man off the bench when Van Gundy got frustrated with Kennard. Johnson finished with seven points, six rebounds and five assists in nearly 31 minutes.