The Pistons ended their 5-game skid with a 103-96 victory over the Magic on Wednesday night. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Orlando, Fla. — In the midst of their five-game skid, another double-digit deficit looked like it would be too much to overcome.
After trailing by 15 in the first quarter, the Pistons erased the margin and took a 10-point lead in the second quarter, only to see it evaporate. When they fell into an 11-point deficit in the third quarter, they looked to be sunk but again overcame the deficit.
The Pistons made it a two-for-one special, rallying in the fourth quarter behind the reserve group and putting it away with the starters in a 103-96 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night at Amway Center.
The loss ends the Pistons' five-game skid and puts them back at .500 after a 4-0 start to the season.
"In those two runs, we were resilient. We dug ourselves a hole and the second unit came in and did an excellent job of getting us back in the game," coach Dwane Casey said. "There was no genius — it was about competing our butts off and working. We’re not going to come out and out-talent anybody in the NBA. There’s parity everywhere.
"One thing we can do, if we’re not making shots, is play hard."
Andre Drummond had 23 points and 19 rebounds, Blake Griffin had 20 points and five rebounds, and Reggie Jackson added 15 points and four assists for the Pistons (5-5), who outrebounded the Magic, 50-40.
The Pistons overcame two double-digit deficits to beat the Magic and improve to 5-5. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
“It was great coming out with a win. We can’t get too excited; we have another game coming up and look forward to that one,” Drummond said. “It’s good we got this one out of the way to get our wheels going again. We can’t allow ourselves to dig that deep into a hole and losing five straight so we have to play hard and have fun again.”
The Magic (4-7) led 78-69 at the 3:03 mark of the third quarter, but the starters made a push, with seven points by Griffin, including a vicious dunk. Ish Smith had a steal and lay-in at the buzzer, cutting the lead to two heading into the final period.
Smith had another floater and Stanley Johnson (13 points, six rebounds) hit a pair of 3-pointers and Langston Galloway (12 points) added two more, part of a 14-4 spurt to start the fourth quarter.
Johnson had his best all-around game of the season, with three 3-pointers and a poise and pace that helped him spark the second unit.
"He played hard — that’s the most important thing. He didn’t try to do too much and let the game come to him," Casey said. "I’m not judging him or anybody on their shot-making. What I am judging is hard play."
The Magic answered with a 9-2 run, including seven points by Evan Fournier (27 points) and a highlight-reel dunk by Aaron Gordon (15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists) but the Pistons didn’t fold.
Griffin made two free throws, Glenn Robinson III hit a lay-in and Jackson added a 3-pointer for the decisive run, giving the Pistons a 101-93 lead with 1:09 left.
Here are some other observations from Wednesday's win:
1. Johnson was effective in his stint in the first half, notching seven points, four rebounds and two assists in 10 minutes. He looked comfortable handling the ball and with the second group, was able to run in transition and hit a 3-pointer and added a coast-to-coast drive and a reverse lay-up. Watching Johnson’s move to the reserve group is interesting, as he struggled to hit shots and be efficient or effective with the starters. If he’s able to establish any comfort, he could find a more comfortable role as a defender and spark on the second group.
Stanley Johnson had 13 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes, sparking the reserves' effort in the comeback Rod Beard, The Detroit News
2. Casey lamented the production of the reserves in the loss to the Heat. They bounced back Wednesday, with 35 points, and sparked a couple runs that got them back in the game in each half. They started 7-of-13 from the field and 3-of-5 on 3-pointers in the first half and ignited a 13-2 run that helped regain the lead early in the fourth quarter. They were composed and with an aggressive spark by Johnson, they played with poise.
"The bench was phenomenal. When they got up on us, that unit that was in at the end of the first quarter did a really good job of locking in and digging away at the lead," Griffin said. "The second unit was great multiple times. They got stops and easy buckets."
3. Drummond was efficient: 8-of-10 in the first half, 10-of-16 for the game and finishing just short of his fifth 20-20 game in 10 games this season. He’s generally had good games against the Magic but he had his way inside — and even added an off-balance 3-pointer, his second make from beyond the arc this season.
4. Reggie Bullock returned after missing the last two games with an ankle sprain and was 0-for-6 from the field, including two misses on 3-pointers. He hasn’t found the mark yet this season but will continue in a starting role.
5. Jackson continues to impress down the stretch in recent games, with seven points in another good fourth quarter. He had the decisive 3-pointer and added a dunk with 24.9 seconds left to push the lead to 10. He’s been working with Griffin to establish some better balance between them, and it’s showing in the last two games.