Monday’s result, coupled with the team’s poor performance for much of their 102-96 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, raises questions about the Magic’s standing among the league’s top teams. Is their recent unimpressive play indicative of a flawed roster? Is the team merely struggling because it’s playing its third back-to-back set in eight days? Orlando’s just six games into a 66-game season, so it’s difficult to answer with any certainty.
Stan Van Gundy refused to chalk up the team’s poor effort to the six games in nine nights to open the season. It is just an excuse. And it is a reality of this truncated season, but it is hard to say the Magic were completely there mentally or physically against a Pistons team that had not played since Saturday (that extra day of rest may have mattered).
The Pistons’ backcourt dominated the Magic’s backcourt. Detroit outrebounded the Magic handily. And the Pistons even outscored the Magic in the paint.
“We can’t make any excuses,” said Dwight Howard, who finished with a team-high 19 points but collected just seven rebounds and fouled out late in the fourth quarter.
“They played harder than us. We didn’t play as hard, and that’s how we lost.”
“To me what changed the game was Jason Maxiell and Ben Wallace,” Frank said. “I think they brought a ruggedness to us; a physical inside presence.
“I thought those guys brought a lot of intensity tonight.”
Their stats were modest — Maxiell scored all of the duo’s nine points and the two combined for seven rebounds in 36 minutes, although Wallace’s five steals stood out.
But it was how the two were able to battle Dwight Howard and help the Pistons to a 39-28 advantage on the glass.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)
Topics: Ben Gordon, Ben Wallace, Brandon Knight, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Eal Clark, Greg Monroe, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Maxiel, Jason Richardson, Joe Dumars, Jonas Jerebko, Larry Hughes, Orlando Magic, Otis Smith, Quentin Richardson, Rodney Stuckey, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Tayshaun Prince, Von Wafer