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Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Short-Handed Magic Lose To Pistons 102-95

The Orlando Magic couldn’t overcome the absence of starters Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and Ryan Anderson, falling to the Detroit Pistons 102-95.

Greg Monroe led the Pistons with 22 points and 11 rebounds while Glen Davis led all scorers with a career-high 31 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

Of course the Magic were short-handed, missed their three best players in Anderson, Howard and Nelson, but the same issue that has plagued them lately plagued them again Thursday night – they couldn’t stop the Pistons. And Magic coach Stan Van Gundy wasn’t happy about it, telling reporters “the defense won’t cut it.” The Pistons shot 56.6% from the field, best against the Magic this season. Big man Greg Monroe basically had his way with the Magic with Howard out. It took him just 11 shots to score his 22 points and he was especially aggressive when Daniel Orton, who played the first meaningful minutes of his career, was in the game. It wasn’t just Monroe taking over though – the Pistons were very balanced with six players scoring in double figures.

Offensively, it was also rough on the Magic at times. Glen Davis was pretty consistent throughout. Effort is never a problem with Davis but he’s in the middle of the worst season of his career. However, after putting up 18 points and 16 rebounds in Sunday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, Davis scored a career-high 31 points on 11-of-22 shooting. Plus, a few of his misses came because he got the ball at the end of the shot clock and had to put up difficult shots. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and had three steals. Believe or not, Davis even went coast to coast for a bucket. Really. I’m not kidding. Davis appears to be more comfortable as both a starter and a center. On Sunday Davis explained how he’s just adapting to his role because he came to Orlando with hopes of being a full-time starter. He can create some spacing problems and his range becomes much more valuable as a center.

Outside of Davis, there was nothing to really write home about outside of a few exceptions. Chris Duhon finished with 13 points, five assists and four rebounds after of a disaster of a start. Ish Smith (five points, three rebounds and three assists in just 14 minutes) showed some promise and possibly made an argument for playing time while rookie Daniel Orton did not. Orton looked sluggish and confused in his first meaningful playing time. The big man had two rebounds, two fouls and did not attempt a shot in eight minutes. He scored two points at the free throw line.

  • Orlando’s shooting guards were awful. Jason Richardson (4-of-10) and J.J. Redick (1-of-9) combined to shoot 26.3% from the field.
  • Earl Clark got extended playing time (24 minutes) but scored just five points on 2-of-7 shooting and grabbed only three rebounds.
  • Hedo Turkoglu had 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting at halftime but only attempted two more shots in the second half.

Next Up: The Magic will host the New York Knicks Thursday night.

Final thought: Orlando competed well but the defense is a problem no matter who’s healthy.

(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 on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)

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Tags: 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

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