Pistons steamroll Magic for largest win in home opener
Auburn Hills — If this is it, the Pistons made sure it was quite the sendoff.
With talks heating up about a potential move to downtown Detroit, the Pistons used a 20-2 second-quarter run to overwhelm the Orlando Magic and cruise to a 108-82 win Friday in what could be the team’s final home opener at The Palace.
It was the largest margin of victory in a home opener in franchise history. The previous record was 23 points set in 1967 and 1950.
Tobias Harris scored 18 and Marcus Morris 17 to lead a balanced scoring attack for the Pistons (1-1). Ish Smith added 16 points and eight assists, Beno Udrih and Aron Baynes each scored 13 off the bench, and Andre Drummond had 12 points and 20 rebounds.
Aaron Gordon scored 17, Elfrid Payton 15, Mario Hezonja 13 and Nikola Vucevic had seven points and 14 rebounds for the Magic (0-2).
"(The second quarter) couldn't have been much better," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I thought even in the first quarter we had a couple of mindless mistakes, but overall I thought our defense through most of the night was really good.
"I thought our guys did a much better job of staying vertical and not slapping down on the ball, so I thought that was really good. I thought our transition defense was better. Early in the game, Payton was assaulting the rim but we were making him take tough shots and until the fourth quarter our rebounding was a lot better."
After holding a slim 24-22 lead after the first quarter, the Pistons opened the second with a Morris jumper and Baynes layup to create some quick separation.
Serge Ibaka countered with a shot from inside the arc, but the Pistons raced away by scoring the next 16 points to take a commanding, 44-24 lead at the 8:07 mark.
Jon Leuer kick-started it with a jumper and Baynes followed with a putback dunk off Udrih’s missed layup before Morris heated up with a thunderous one-handed jam and three-point play.
Smith got in on the action with a pull-up jumper from the free-throw line and added an acrobatic fast-break layup. Morris capped the spurt with a 3-pointer from the wing.
After missing seven shots and having another blocked, Vucevic finally ended the bleeding and ended the Magic’s five-minute scoring drought with an offensive rebound and layup to make it 44-26 at the 5:37 mark.
It wasn’t until two minutes later that the Magic scored on consecutive possessions when Evan Fournier and Payton each had a layup to cut it to 46-30.
The Pistons closed out the first half with a Harris floater and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fast-break layup to take a 54-31 advantage into halftime. The Pistons outscored the Magic, 30-9, in the second.
“Since the start of the game we had good composure with the way we were playing offensively and defensively,” Harris said. “Most importantly, we got stops and were able to get out in transition and get easy baskets.
“The second quarter came around and we really picked our energy up. Beno gave us a great effort, and some good pull-up jumpers that opened up the floor. We just got it going from there.”
The Pistons picked it right back up in the third with a 7-1 spurt as the lead swelled to 61-33 with 9:47 left. Harris and Smith each hit a jumper, Drummond had a layup and Caldwell-Pope added a technical free throw.
The Pistons continued to pile it on with two Drummond free throws and a Leuer 3-pointer to put the Magic in a 79-48 hole before Udrih added the finishing touches with a jumper and 3-pointer in the final 30 seconds to give the Pistons a massive, 86-51 cushion after three.
The Magic were able to cut the deficit to less than 30 multiple times but never seriously threatened in the fourth as both teams emptied their benches.
“I thought we did a better job on the things we talked about. We talked about on our offensive game doing a better job of screening, and making plays out of the pick-and-rolls,” Van Gundy said. “Our point guards both played very well. I know we got 29 points, 12 assists and two turnovers out of those guys. It was pretty good basketball.”
Van Gundy was wary of the Magic’s athleticism and length heading into the matchup and Payton proved why. Payton kept Smith on his heels, scoring the Magic’s first six points with a pair of driving layups and a short jumper as the Pistons jumped out to an 11-6 lead with 7:16 left in the first.
Payton later started a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer, with Fournier following with a driving layup and Vucevic capping it with a mid-range jumper to give the Magic their first and only lead, 19-18, at the 2:50 mark.
It didn’t last long as Udrih provided an instant spark off the bench. He hit consecutive 12-foot jumpers and assisted on a Baynes baseline jumper as the Pistons reclaimed a 24-19 lead with 40 seconds left in the first.
Hezonja snapped the run with a 3-pointer to cut it to 24-22 after one, the closest it would be the rest of the way.
“We weren’t nearly good enough on either side of the ball tonight. We played poorly and we didn’t respond,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “The guys talked at halftime and we tried to band together rather than separate and crack, which can happen; challenge each other, but it wasn’t much better in the second half.”