The Detroit Pistons were coming a 20 point blowout win over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday and were feeling good about themselves in the preseason. The young Orlando Magic then put that to rest. The Magic jumped out early and when the Pistons tried to pull in closer, Orlando then put the game away in the 4th with a run. Let’s look at how Detroit did in the three things I highlighted earlier.
1.) Closing out games
Well, there was no game to be closed out. The Magic jumped out to a 32-21 lead after one quarter led by Tobias Harris, who just couldn’t miss and hit jumper after jumper. Harris and Nikola Vucevic caused problems for the Pistons jumbo frontline all night and it reminded me of last season in Orlando when Harris and Vucevic toyed with Detroit in blowout Magic wins at the Amway Center. Backup point guard D.J. Augustin played well all night and brought the Pistons back in it with his play, but the Magic would outscore Detroit 23-13 in the 4th quarter to pull away for a 99-87 win.
2.) Brandon Jennings’ play
Jennings once again had a rough shooting night. He had 10 points on a putrid 1/6 shooting effort and could only get three assists. I thought for sure Jennings would play well tonight against Magic rookie Elfrid Payton, but the rookie outplayed him with six points and eight assists. Jennings is now shooting just 11/44 this preseason. Let’s hope that once the regular season rolls around Jennings will be able to find the hoop. On the bright side, Augustin had 21 points and six assists and he shot 3/5 from deep. Very efficient night for Augustin who now officially has the backup point guard job following the Will Bynum trade from this morning.
3.) The jumbo frontline
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy went with the Josh Smith-Greg Monroe-Andre Drummond frontline to start the game much like he did against the Hornets on Wednesday morning. However, unlike the game against Charlotte, that frontline struggled as Smith had a rough night not being able to finish around the basket and Harris torched him defensively. Both Monroe and Drummond had troubles defending Vucevic, but Monroe made up for it with a strong offensive effort. In the end, Monroe totaled up 24 points and 10 rebounds, Smith only had three points, one rebound, but he had seven assists, and Drummond had 11 and seven rebounds. Smith in particular had a rough night, he shot 1/7 but four of his shots came in the paint so that’s a good sign.
Overall, the bright spots tonight were Augustin and Monroe. Smith and Jennings were off, Drummond had a so-so game, and it’s clear this team still has a lot of work to do. The Pistons allowed the Magic to shoot 46.2% and Orlando shot 9/20 from deep. Detroit shot 37.5% overall and just 6/22 from deep while getting out-rebounded 46-42. Detroit plays again tomorrow night in Atlanta to face Smith’s former team, the Hawks.